Six Playwrights in Spotlight at PlayPenn

by Patricia Bradford

PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s professional new play development organization, will hold its eighth annual New Play Development Conference from July 6 – July 22 at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom Street) in Philadelphia. The Conference will feature two-and-a-half weeks of intensive work on six works-in-progress by Liz Duffy Adams (A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World); Willy Holtzman (G.O.B.); Meghan Kennedy (Too Much, Too Much, Too Many); Mia McCullough (Household Spirits); Jonathan James Norton (My Tidy List of Terrors); and Martín George Andrew Zimmerman (Seven Spots on the Sun).

“This year, applications for the 2012 Conference held steady at 600, which is indicative of the continued need for PlayPenn on a national level. The finalists were selected by a national group of artistic directors and dramaturgs who share our fundamental belief that the development of new plays is essential to our community – in Philadelphia, the region, and the nation,” said Paul Meshejian, Artistic Director of PlayPenn.

The chosen playwrights will bring their works-in-progress to Philadelphia for more than two weeks of intensive work with a professional director of their choice, dramaturgical assistance and professional actors from the Philadelphia theatre community. As has become customary over the past three years, the rehearsal period will be preceded by a three day retreat during which conference playwrights, directors and dramaturgs will become acquainted with one another, their plays and the city. Playwrights will rehearse for two-and-a-half weeks with a team of artists devoted to the progress of their work, culminating in free public staged readings from July 19 – July 22.

Liz Duffy Adams’ last play Or, premiered Off Broadway at Women’s Project and was produced at the Magic Theater and Seattle Rep among other places. She is a New Dramatists alumna, and has received a Women of Achievement Award, Lillian Hellman Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Will Glickman Award, and residencies at the MacDowell, Djerassi, and Millay artist colonies. Other plays include Dog Act; Wet or, Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitude; The Listener; The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge of It or, The Train Play; and One Big Lie.

Willy Holtzman’s plays include: The Morini Strad (Primary Stages, Portland Stage Company, City Theatre – ATCA nominee, PlayPenn), Sabina (Primary Stages), Something You Did (Primary Stages, People’s Light & Theatre, Theatre J), Bovver Boys (Primary Stages, Cleveland Play House, Berkshire Theatre Festival), Hearts (Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Alliance Theatre, People’s Light & Theatre – Barrymore Award), The Real McGonagall (Portland Stage Company, New Harmony Project – Wangerin Award), The Closer (The Working Theatre, Geva Theatre Center), Inside Out (Theatre for a New Audience, Portland Stage Company). His screenplay for Edge of America received the Peabody Award, the Humanitas Prize, and the Writers Guild Award. He was a Lila Wallace Resident Playwright at Juilliard. He is a board member at New Dramatists and Harlem Stage Company.

Meghan Kennedy’s plays have been produced in Dublin, Ireland, New York City and Austin, Texas. She was a finalist for the 2011 PlayPenn Conference, 2011 Seven Devils Conference, and 2011 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a semi‐finalist for 2012 P73 Playwriting Fellowship. She was named a 2010 Core Apprentice at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and is currently a member of the P73 writing group, Interstate 73. Meghan recently received her M.F.A. in Playwriting from The Michener Center for Writing at UT Austin. She also holds a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of The Arts at NYU.

A proud Chicago playwright, Mia McCullough’s plays have been produced around the country at The Old Globe (San Diego), The Victory Theatre (LA), Actors Express (Atlanta), InterAct (Philadelphia), Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists and Stage Left (Chicago), among others. Her play Impenetrable is slated to premiere at Stage Left this fall. Mia is also a screenwriter and teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University. She also dabbles in stand-up comedy and is writing her first musical.

Jonathan James Norton is recipient of the South Dallas Cultural Center’s 2010 Diaspora Performing Arts Commission for My Tidy List of Terrors, which was a 2011 Semi-Finalist for the O’Neill Center’s National Playwrights Conference. My Tidy List of Terrors was also workshopped at the Texas State Black and Latino Playwrights Conference. Jonathan is currently at work on a new play commissioned by the African American Repertory Theater founded by Irma P. Hall. Jonathan is a member of ScriptWorks, which held a reading of his newest play, Mississippi Goddamn. Jonathan is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, and the Masters of Liberal Studies program at Southern Methodist University.

Martín George Andrew Zimmerman’s plays have been produced or developed at The Kennedy Center, Goodman Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center, Alliance Theatre, American Theater Company, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Chicago Dramatists, Primary Stages, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Theatre Row, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Borderlands Theater, Source Festival, The Gift, and Red Tape. A recipient of the Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellowship, NNPN’s Smith Prize, and a Core Apprenticeship at The Playwrights’ Center, Martín is a member of the 2011-2012 Playwrights’ Unit at Goodman Theatre, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and has been a finalist for the Kendeda Competition, Jerome Fellowship, and Heideman Award.

The six Conference playwrights were culled from a group of 26 semi-finalists and 11 finalists. The other finalists for the 2012 conference include Gabriel Jason Dean (Bacha Bazi), Laura Edmondson (Eating Mangoes), Sevan Khaloustian Green (In the Name of Silence), Kenneth Lin (Warrior Class), and James Still (The House That Jack Built).

More information about the 2012 Conference, including a calendar of events, will be available later this Spring on our website,

About PlayPenn

PlayPenn is 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. As a non-profit organization PlayPenn is made possible through the generous support support of individuals as well as by substantial support from, among others, the Wyncote Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Dramatists Guild Fund, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative and the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, and the Shubert Foundation.

For further information, please call 215.242.2813 or visit our website,

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