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New Work Development

Soundings Reading Series    NJ Women Playwrights Project   New Plays New Jersey    NJ Literary Artists Fellowship     Jersey Shorts

Development ValuesProgram AreasFuture Life of Work Developed at WTNJ
We are devoted to developing new works in a safe and nurturing environment, one which serves the creative integrity of the artist. Every step of the process involves the writer, experienced professionals and, the sophisticated supportive audience we have been cultivating over the past 30 years.

Our efforts are not limited to playwrights, we have development programs that work with prose writers and poets, as well.

Basic Development Opportunities available at Writers Theatre include Roundtable Readings, Rapid Response Readings, SOUNDINGS Reading Series, Workshops, and Mainstage Productions.

Special Development Programs include the New Jersey Women’s Playwrights Project, New Plays New Jersey, the New Jersey Literary Artist Fellowship Showcase, Jersey Shorts, the New Jersey Stage Exchange, and the Drew Capstone Project.

The life of a work doesn’t end with a final performance or reading, and neither does our support. We invite other producing and development organizations to our events to encourage future opportunities for the writers. We also help with ongoing efforts to find interested theatres.

Writers Theatre has become a leader in assembling co-productions. We have engaged in over 25 co-productions since 2001, some with multiple theatres including, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJ PAC), NJ Rep (Long Branch, NJ), Dreamcatcher Rep (Summit, NJ), The Bickford Theatre (Morristown, NJ),Passage Theatre (Trenton, NJ), Premiere Stages (Union, NJ), The Growing Stage (Netcong, NJ), Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY, Zoeller Arts Center at Lehigh University, and Oldcastle Theatre in Bennington, VT.

Basic Development Opportunities
Roundtable ReadingsRapid Response ReadingsSoundings Reading SeriesWorkshopsMainstage Productions
Roundtable Readings are process-oriented private excursions into a play, usually lasting about five hours. These may take the form of a traditional rehearsed reading, or resemble more closely the kind of “table work” that is done at the first rehearsal of a play. For the most part, writers determine the course of the process, though at times WTNJ may use the process to test the readiness of a play for one of its other phases of development. These readings are cast with professional actors. WTNJ schedules approximately five of these readings a year.
Rapid Response Readings are simply Roundtable Readings scheduled when a playwright in the WTNJ community indicates a need to have a play read.  These are cast with professional actors and function similarly to basic Roundtable Reading.

We also assemble readings for other theatres that may want to test a play they are developing, but for various reasons, may need additional readings in a different setting. We place no future claims on these readings, and funding arrangements will vary, depending upon the circumstances.

This is a public “concert reading” format reading series with minimal staging. Professional actors rehearse four-six hours with a director and the writer present, and writer input is sought at all stages of the rehearsal process. A guided post-reading discussion is held with the author, director and artistic director. Writers are consulted on casting, and we make every effort to meet the author’s casting objectives. More information about our SOUNDINGS Series can be found here.

Soundings Reading Series

While not an annual feature of the New Play Development program, Writers Theatre  occasionally endeavors to present a two-week rehearsed reading/performance of a play in development. Each workshop has its own objectives, and results may range from a concert reading to a significant staging with technical elements. Professional actors are hired on a two-week SPT contract, and designers may be brought in as well. Authors are encouraged to be present for the entire process. There are usually two-three performances (public or semi-public) with post-workshop discussions, run similarly to the SOUNDINGS Reading Series. We seek the author’s input on all elements of production.
Two-three times per season, WTNJ will present fully realized productions of new plays. In three-play seasons the plays will be from: 1. From a commissioned New Jersey Writer, a New Jersey Women Playwrights Writers, or The New Jersey Play Development Project; 2. a play that has been through our standard development process and 3. a rolling world premiere from the NNPN or a coproduction with another theatre. Two play seasons will have varying configurations depending on the needs of, and/or availabilities to, WTNJ. More information about our Mainstage Series can be found here.

Special Development Programs

New Jersey Women Playwrights ProjectNew Plays New JerseyNew Jersey Literary Artist Fellowship ShowcaseJersey ShortsNJ Stage ExchangeDrew Capstone
New Jersey has an abundance of talented and committed women playwrights, but there are very few opportunities for these artists to form relationships with organizations that will make a long-term commitment to developing both their work and their presence in the community.  The New Jersey Women Playwrights Project (NJWPP) was created to provide meaningful support to women playwrights through an authentic development process that focuses on their individual needs and seeks to foster the success and development of work from the wonderful community of women playwrights here in our very own state.

The NJWPP works to identify writers; provide a long-term, writer-driven development process; and provide connections for the writer to other writers, informed audiences, and the larger theatrical community. We also continue to provide support to our NJWPP writers after their plays have gone through the process both within the state and beyond.

Click here to learn more about the New Jersey Women Playwrights Project.

NJ Women Playwrights Project

New Plays New Jersey is a project designed to support, nurture, and showcase the new play development community in New Jersey, with an eye toward creating a semi-formal network of New Jersey theatres who will coordinate their work on new plays, support each other’s efforts, and promote the idea that New Jersey plays an important role in New Play Development in the United States.

NPNJ consists of a series of five concert readings of new works by New Jersey writers presented by the New Jersey Theatres who support them. These readings will be presented on an annual basis, during the NJ Theatre Alliance Stages Festival with WTNJ producing the event.

To learn more about New Plays New Jersey, including information on this year’s NPNJ performances, click here.

New Plays New Jersey

The New Jersey Literary Artist Fellowship Showcase presents public renderings of the works of the NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship recipients in Poetry, Prose, and Playwriting. Each genre is presented differently, poets perform readings of their own works, prose writers have an option of performing their own story, or having it performed by a professional actor. Playwrights receive rehearsed concert readings of their plays.

The showcase is presented every three years. WTNJ attempts to find partners who can assist with promotion and awareness on the project and for whom an association with the NJLAF can raise the awareness of their own efforts. WTNJ currently has a partnership with the MFA Creative Writing Program at William Paterson University to present the program as part of their Spring Writers Conference in 2017, as well as poetry reading programs at Warren County College and Stockton State University. WTNJ is also working with the Dramatists Guild New Jersey Representative to present a conference on New Jersey writers as part of the presentation of the works of the playwrights in 2017.

Click here for updates and more information on the program.

NJ Literary Artists Fellowship

Jersey Shorts is a developmental program for prose writers. In a manner similar to our New Play Development process, professional actors and directors work with prose fiction authors to develop short stories in progress. Public performances consist of professional actors rendering a reading of the work.

The project is currently in its pilot phase as a partnership with the MFA writing program at William Paterson University. Graduating writers receive a reading as part of their final product.

Plans are to extend the project to include New Jersey-based prose writers in the near future.

Click here for more information and dates for upcoming events.

Jersey Shorts

For the second year, WTNJ has partnered with NJPAC on the NJPAC Stage Exchange, where cutting-edge new play development meets insightful community dialogue. In 2015-16, WTNJ produced five readings of new works with NJPAC.

In 2016-17, WTNJ (with additional partner, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance) is one of three professional New Jersey theaters commissioned to produce new plays by a talented trio of Garden State playwrights. Following readings at the Stage Exchange, each work receives a world premiere production at its sponsoring theater. Proceeds from each reading will also benefit an Essex County nonprofit organization, chosen for its mission’s connection to the play’s theme and issues.

Writers, theaters and beneficiaries include:

  • April 29: David Lee White and Passage Theatre Company (Trenton), a reading of Sanism to benefit the Mental Health Association of Essex County
  • May 20: Nikkole Salter and Luna Stage (West Orange), a reading of IndianHead to benefit the Newark Museum
  • June 24: Chisa Hutchinson and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey (Madison), a reading of Surely Goodness and Mercy to benefit New Jersey SEEDSClick here for more information and ticket reservations (at NJPAC)

Click here for more information and ticket reservations.

The Drew Capstone Project is a partnership with the Drew University Theatre Department, which commissions a professional playwright to work with theatre students to create a play that will be performed as part of the Senior Capstone Project. The writer schedules a number of workshops with the students to determine the subject matter of the plays, and workshops subsequent drafts of the play with the students until it is put into production two months prior to the final performance. WTNJ retains an option to further develop the play as part of its professional new play development program.

Click here for more information and performance dates.