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On this podcast, PlayPenn artistic director Paul Meshejian discusses the PlayPenn Annual Conference. I spoke with Meshejian in 2013 about the conference; since then, many plays that have been workshopped there have helped shaped the national conversation around contemporary theater. These new plays transfer from the conference to regional stages, and J.T. Rogers’s drama Oslo, about the negotiations surrounding the Oslo Accords, opens on Broadway April 13, 2017, featuring New Paradise Laboratories founding member and longtime Philly actor Jeb Kreager.
The highlight reel
PlayPenn describes itself as "an artist-driven organization dedicated to improving the way in which new plays are developed. Employing an ever-evolving process, PlayPenn creates a relaxed tension within which playwrights can engage in risk-taking, boundary-pushing work free from the pressures of commercial consideration."
Some of the conference's esteemed graduates and awards include:
- MacArthur Fellowship: Samuel D. Hunter (PlayPenn 2010)
- Whiting Award: James Ijames (PlayPenn 2013, 2015)
- Guggenheim Fellowship: Gabriel Jason Dean (PlayPenn 2013), Jordan Harrison (PlayPenn 2005), J.T. Rogers (PlayPenn 2005, 2009, 2015)
- Lilly Award for Playwriting: Lucy Thurber (PlayPenn 2005)
- Pew Fellowship: James Ijames (PlayPenn 2013, 2015)
- Sky Cooper Prize for American Playwriting: Samuel D. Hunter (PlayPenn 2010), Martin Zimmerman (PlayPenn 2012)
- American Theatre Critics Association's Osborn Award: Jonathan James Norton (PlayPenn 2012)
- Susan Smith Blackburn Prize: Sheila Callaghan (PlayPenn 2005)
- Terrence McNally New Play Award: James Ijames (White, 2015)
- Barrymore Award for Best New Play: R. Eric Thomas (Time Is on Our Side, PlayPenn 2015), Michael Hollinger (Ghost-Writer, PlayPenn 2009), Jacqueline Goldfinger (Slip/Shot, PlayPenn 2011)
- Top 10 Plays, New York Times: J.T. Rogers (Oslo, PlayPenn 2015; Blood and Gifts, PlayPenn 2009)
- Top 10 Plays, Time Magazine: J.T. Rogers (The Overwhelming, PlayPenn 2005)
What, When, Where
PlayPenn Conference. July 11 to 30, 2017, at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia. PlayPenn administrative offices, 100 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. (215) 242-2813 or playpenn.org.
Oslo. By J.T. Rogers, Bartlett Sher directed. Through June 30, 2017, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th Street, New York, New York. (212) 239-6200 or telecharge.com.
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