The Journey of a New Play
A new play workshop provides an opportunity for playwrights to see how their words come to life when they move from the page to the stage. It is an invaluable space in which to receive feedback from actors, directors, dramaturgs, and eventually, audiences. This feedback is critical in the refinement and growth of their scripts, identifying opportunities to dig for a deeper understanding of the characters, dialogue, and plot; this ultimately creates a more engaging experience for the audience and contributes to the larger theatrical landscape.
Hosting playwrights for residencies, workshops and readings opens doors to production opportunities, and increases the likelihood of their work being produced. The theater company developing this work is a key part of the process, providing the writer with the resources and the platform for the play to evolve and more deeply resonate with audiences. Readings and workshops allow the creative team to conceptualize and build the world of the play. After these developmental steps, a world premiere production may be undertaken. Prior to the opening night of a world premiere production, several preview performances are scheduled, which are followed by daily rehearsals. These final rehearsals allow the playwright and creative team time to explore changes in response to what they’ve learned from watching the fully staged play in front of an audience. The playwright is then able to make any desired adjustments that will best serve the final draft of the script and future productions.
For an audience, witnessing the birth of a new play and participating in talkbacks at various stages of development offers a unique and enriching perspective on the creative process. Early readings and workshops allow audiences a glimpse of the true essence of the story, witnessing its evolution from initial concept to a refined script. This journey from a new play commission to the opening night of a world premiere offers the audience insight into the art of theatrical storytelling and the collaborative efforts behind the scenes, fostering a deeper appreciation for the creation and magic of theater.
New Play Development Timeline
A new play is commissioned by a professional theater from a playwright, which will then typically have a closed reading (no audience). The commission fee and attached developmental resources provide the playwright with security and structure as they incubate their play in its most nascent stage. Hearing their words read aloud by actors for the first time helps the playwright inform the next stages of revision. A commission provides the theater company with the exclusive rights to the world premiere.
2023 Commission: C.A. Johnson’s Chautauqua-commissioned play The Trial of Millicent Ohakwu currently in development through a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts
A playwright creates a work on their own, which a theater company or producer then reads and chooses to develop further. A finishing commission provides the theater company with the exclusive rights to the world premiere.
2023 Finishing Commission: Kate Hamill’s The Light And The Dark
MUSIC STAND READING
A weeklong workshop where the playwright works with the actors and other creative collaborators to focus purely on the text. This may culminate in a reading with an audience, presented at music stands.
2023 Readings: New Play Workshops Proximity by Harrison David Rivers and Cannabis Passover by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz
A weeklong workshop where the playwright works with the actors and other creative collaborators to focus on the text, staging, and preliminary design elements.
2023 Staged Reading: New Play Workshop The Bleeding Class by Chisa Hutchinson
Previews allow the playwright and the creative team the opportunity to refine the play while responding to the audience. There are several performances before the official opening night, where script changes and technical elements may shift and be strengthened.
2023 Previews: Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice and Mike Lew’s tiny father previews from August 4-6
The play is locked and press is now invited. WE HAVE ARRIVED!
2023 Opening Night: Chautauqua is delighted to share the co-world premiere of Mike Lew’s tiny father.