New Play Development Programs
Dorset Theatre Festival’s New Play Development Program works with playwrights from conception to production, providing an incubator to help nurture new voices to speak from their own experience, engaging ideas that come from and return to our community.
Dorset Theatre Festival also engages with national new play development. Click here to read Board Member Mary-Anne Van Degna’s reflection on the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit.
Dorset Theatre Festival’s New Play Reading Series features three established writers in public readings of new work in development. Writers are invited to spend several days in creative retreat at a scenic Dorset farmhouse with their chosen team of actors and director in an atmosphere in which there is no pressure for performance results: only a respect for process itself as the end goal. The culmination of this work is a public sharing of their exploration of a new work with our New Play Reading Series subscribers. In a short time, this series has become a successful, vibrant. and anticipated aspect of our summer program offerings.
Annual Writers Retreat
Our Annual Writers Retreat, now in its eighth year, is hosted by Dorset Theatre Festival Resident Playwright Theresa Rebeck and produced in collaboration with Lark Play Development Center in NYC. With this weeklong retreat, our goal is to create a nurturing and collaborative environment where participants set a high bar for themselves and their fellow writers, encouraging, challenging and inspiring each other to take risks and plunge deeply into the issues that speak to them. We have served as a home to some of the most innovative playwrights working today, including Rajiv Joseph, Samuel L. Hunter, Adam Rapp, Laura Eason, Anna Ziegler, Ken Weitzman, Nicole Burdette, and Cusi Cram, among others.
The Women Artists Writing Group is a diverse group of mid-career female actresses and theatre artists who are expanding their artistry through writing. The group's purpose is to meet the whole female theatre artist where she is at as a writer, providing resources and support as she works to either discover her own voice or works towards completing a writing project. Writing gives agency to female theatre artists, who attest to its powerful liberating effect on all aspects of their individual artistic selves.
Through the Festival's Young Playwrights Program & Competition, we nurture the youngest of aspiring regional playwrights with a series of Playwriting Workshops in regional middle and high schools. These workshops are led by some of the top playwrights in the country and culminate in a performance each fall of all the winning plays, which are developed by students in conjunction with mentorship from Bennington College advanced playwriting students, n our Jean E. Miller Young Playwrights Competition.
These programs are made possible through the generous support of: National Endowment for the Arts, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Richard Rogers Foundation, and The Edgerton Foundation.