Playwrights Foundation

Playwrights Foundation

Our Story: Founded in 1976, Playwrights Foundation is today widely recognized as one of the top organizations in the U.S. dedicated to the creative development and career acceleration of contemporary playwrights. Over 80% of the plays we develop have gone on to successful productions, winning awards and accolades.

Our Mission: Our mission is to support and champion diverse contemporary...
Our Story: Founded in 1976, Playwrights Foundation is today widely recognized as one of the top organizations in the U.S. dedicated to the creative development and career acceleration of contemporary playwrights. Over 80% of the plays we develop have gone on to successful productions, winning awards and accolades.

Our Mission: Our mission is to support and champion diverse contemporary playwrights in the creation of new works to sustain theater as a vital, dynamic art form.

Our Values: Playwrights are the center of our universe. Pure and simple. We value diverse, complex, and experimental new works.

We position the playwright as the leading creative voice in a developing play, and Playwrights Foundation has earned a national reputation for introducing a variety of terrific new voices, and work that challenges assumptions about identity, form, and the viability of artistic complexity for the theater. In the past decade, nearly 40% of the playwrights have been from a diverse range of communities of color, and 50% have been women.

Playwrights Foundation’s primary artistic goals are: to elevate the role of the playwright as a 21st Century storyteller across live and mediated platforms; to provide a home that supports, encourages and advances the creative process of contemporary playmaking; and to feed the tributaries of the American theater, within the Bay Area and beyond.

Submission period: August through mid-October. Please see our website for submission policies. www.playwrightsfoundation.org

Organization Overview
Founded in 1976 by Robert Woodruff to provide a forum for vanguard playwrights to experiment with new ideas, to develop and nurture creative collaborative relationships, and push the boundaries of the form, PF has since served nearly 500 emergent playwrights in successive waves, providing them with the indispensable, illusive resources and support required to advance new plays early in their development toward production. Our program alumni, first discovered early in their careers, have given voice to the social issues of the day, uplifted our cultural heritage, experimented in new forms, and promoted connectedness between people, and now include some of the most prominent names in contemporary theater, including Sam Shepard, David Henry Hwang, Nilo Cruz, Anna Deavere Smith, Philip Kan Gotanda, Paula Vogel, and Naomi Iizuka, to name just a few.

In the past fifteen years, over 80% of the artists we have worked with received subsequent productions, and their experience with the BAPF, has proven to be a significant step in that process. Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop; Lauren Yee’s Samsara; Kimber Lee’s brownsville song: b-side for tray, Chris Chen’s The Hundred Flowers Project, Peter Nachtrib’s Bob, along with Aaron Loeb, Lauren Gunderson, Marisela Orta, and Yussef el Guindi exemplify a few of the many recent beneficiaries of our work. Since 2012, program alumni have won three consecutive Will Glickman new play awards, Sam Hunter (BAPF 2007) won the MacArthur Genius Award, and Annie Baker (also BAPF 2007) won the Pulitzer. Both of these artists had their very first professional experiences at PF. In 2011, two PF workshopped plays had Broadway runs: Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop.

The centerpiece of our programming is the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF); as one of the first and longest-running new play festivals in the U.S., the BAPF is a hothouse for new work, which has supported over 300 diverse, fiercely talented writers. PF’s other programs are: the Producing Partners Initiative /Commissioning Program, the New Play Institute; the Rough Readings Series; the Resident Playwrights Program; the SF One-Minute Play Festival; and Des Voix…Found in Translation. Through these innovative programs, PF is continuing to fulfill our role as an essential resource for writers to develop new work, learn new skills, forge connections with producers, and engage audiences with their work.

Current Staff: Executive Artistic Director Jessica Bird Beza, Literary Manager Heather Helinsky, Associate Literary Manager Kieran Beccia

Recommended by Playwrights Foundation

  • The First Sister Trip
    18 Jul. 2021
    The community of national & local readers for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival enthusiastically recommends THE FIRST SISTER TRIP as a Semi-Finalist this season at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We were deeply moved by the strong characters portrayals of sisters processing their grief together on a plane after the death of their mother. We were compelled by the play's promise as it provides complex roles for middle age/older women, whose stories are not seen enough on the American stage. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021
  • STAFF RETREAT
    18 Jul. 2021
    The community of national & local readers for the 44th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival enthusiastically recommends STAFF RETREAT as a Semi-Finalist this season at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We were deeply moved by the playwright’s profound investigation of the power dynamics, microaggressions, and white privilege that, though talked about, are rarely meaningfully addressed in the workplace. We're compelled by the play's promise, as it explores nonprofit spaces with comedy, heart, and unflinching candor, written with strong evidence of craft. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021
  • 30 Seconds
    18 Jul. 2021
    The community of national & local readers for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival enthusiastically recommends 30 SECONDS as a Semi-Finalist this season at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We were deeply moved by this story of anxiety & bullying of young people, navigating childhood memories which may or may not lead to healing. We were compelled by this play's promise, as it explores mental health of queer characters in relatable, refreshing ways. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators to continue working on the message of healing, and it moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021
  • Funny, Like HAHA. (or, A Play About A Rape Joke)
    18 Jul. 2021
    The community of national & local readers for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival enthusiastically recommends FUNNY, LIKE HAHA as a Semi-Finalist at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We were deeply moved by this provocative, challenging play which deftly navigates conversations about sexism & misogyny in a confident, self-aware theatrical manner with blistering humor. We were compelled by this play's promise with dialogue that is rich, thought-provoking, well-paced, and at turns, heartbreaking (while also being extremely funny!!!). We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021
  • The Targeted
    9 Jun. 2021
    The community of national & local readers for the 44th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival enthusiastically recommends THE TARGETED as a Semi-Finalist this season at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We were deeply moved by the artistic merits of the structure and character development. We're compelled by the play's promise, as it explores levels of trust among a marginalized community. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021