In 2013, Bekah Brunstetter brought her play The Oregon Trail to The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference to be developed with director Geordie Broadwater. This season has seen an incredible number of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows that began their life at this incredible oasis of creativity in Waterford, CT. Broadway World wrote about some of these plays and their journey from development to full productions.
O'Neill Represented in NYC by SIGNIFICANT OTHER, IN TRANSIT and More
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center celebrates dozens of shows on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in theaters across the globe this 2016-17 season. Projects from the National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference have moved on to significant productions and even the Academy Awards.
The O'Neill supports writers at every stage of their career as playwright Joshua Harmon, whose show SIGNIFICANT OTHER opens on Broadway March 2, reflects:
"I first went to the O'Neill for a night in 2009, when they invited graduate students in playwriting to come and see the campus. I went back the next year for two weeks through the Kennedy Center, where I got to sit around dinner tables with Alfred Uhry and Molly Smith Metzler and bask in their glow. So when I was asked to come back as a writer-in-residence in 2013, it felt very full circle."
He continues: "By far the most moving part of being there is learning the history of founder George White's dream, to create a space for playwrights to work, and then seeing what has become of that dream: all the playwrights who now gather there each year, and the plaques which bear the names of so many of our country's most important writers, who all came to the O'Neill to work. It's quite moving to contemplate how many writers George White's vision has impacted, and how many audiences have been impacted by the work of the writers who have passed through the O'Neill. I feel very fortunate to have been one of them."
SIGNIFICANT OTHER was developed at the O'Neill in 2013. As the 2013 NPC writer-in-residence, Joshua Harmon worked on a new play titled The Franco-Prussian War, Several drafts and a title change later, the show enjoyed a 2015 sold-out run at the Roundabout Theater Company and is now on Broadway at the Booth Theatre.
UGLY LIES THE BONE by Lindsey Ferrentino was first developed at the 2014 National Playwrights Conference. After a sold-out run at the Roundabout Theatre Company, the show opens at London's National Theatre March 1. This production marks Lindsey Ferrentino's European debut.
IN TRANSIT by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth was developed during the 2008 National Music Theater Conference. Two years after the O'Neill's four developmental readings, IN TRANSIT opened off-Broadway in a Primary Stages production that won Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 2016, eight years after the readings in the O'Neill Barn, IN TRANSIT opened on Broadway where it is currently running at the Circle in the Square Theater.
FENCES was first developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 1983 National Playwrights Conference. The play went on to win the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play. Over the course of his career, playwright August Wilson developed six of his plays at the O'Neill. The American Film Institute (AFI)'s Movie of the Year, FENCES was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson, posthumously), Accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress for FENCES, Viola Davis celebrated the playwright saying: "Here's to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."
In reflecting on the tremendous success of O'Neill-developed projects this season, National Playwrights Conference Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg notes: "The stories are relevant and their success is a testament to the success of the O'Neill's holistic development process." She continues: "It is always inspiring when we are in a moment like this with so many shows moving into world premiere productions and New York premieres." citing the recent off-Broadway premieres of three NPC shows:
ALLIGATOR, by Hilary Bettis, was developed at the O'Neill's 2012 National Playwrights Conference. The show had its world premiere at New Georges Theatre in November as the inaugural production of The Sol Project, a New-York based initiative dedicated to raising the visibility of Latinx playwrights.
OREGON TRAIL was developed during the 2013 National Playwrights Conference. It had its New York premiere in a Fault Line Theatre production at Women's Project Theater. Written by Bekah Brunstetter, the production featured NPC director Geordie Broadwater and NPC cast members Emily Louise Perkins and Laura Ramadei. The show will also be seen at Chicago Halcyon's Theatre in November.
ORANGE JULIUS, by Basil Kreimendahl, was developed at the O'Neill's 2012 National Playwrights Conference. The show had its New York premiere at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in a collaborative production with PAGE 73. The production featured NPC alum Irene Sofia Lucio and Jess Barbagallo (National Theater Institute faculty).
"For over 50 years, major writers and artists of every stripe have launched their careers on our seaside campus. The number of O'Neill-developed works currently on stages around the world is a testament to the work of our outstanding Artistic Directors and demonstrates the value the O'Neill has in the American Theater." says O'Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway. "I'm thrilled that these new plays and musicals will be seen by audiences across the country."
O'Neill-developed projects with upcoming productions at regional theaters include:
Zakiyyah Alexander and Imani Uzuri's GIRL SHAKES LOOSE (NMTC '16) world premiere at Penumbra Theatre.
David Auburn's LOST LAKE (NPC '13) at Berkshire Theatre Group
Jeff Augustin's LITTLE CHILDREN DREAM OF GOD (NPC '13) west coast premiere at The Road Theatre Company
Kirsten Child's THE BUBBLY BLACK GIRL SHEDS HER CHAMELEON SKIN (NMTC '98) at NYC's City Center as part of Encores! Off-Center.
Halley Feiffer's I'M GONNA PRAY FOR YOU SO HARD (NPC '14) west coast premiere with L.A.'s Rogue Machine Theatre and Kansas City, MO's Unicorn Theatre.
Ken Weitzman's HALFTIME WITH DON (NPC '15) will be the 65th National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere
Josh Wilder's LEFTOVERS (NPC '15) world premiere at Boston's Company One Theatre
Founded in 1964, the O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater, and named in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and thousands more emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at theaters around the world. O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute - which offers six credit-earning undergraduate training programs. In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. The O'Neill is the recipient of two Tony Awards and National Medal of Arts www.theoneill.org.