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

  • House of India
    21 Nov. 2022
    The community of national & local readers for the 45th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2022) enthusiastically recommends HOUSE OF INDIA as a Semi-Finalist at Playwrights Foundation.
    We were deeply moved by the investigation of how the ‘American Dream’ has shifted for immigrant families especially across generational differences. We were compelled by the play’s promise in it’s execution of the familial relationships & obligations and themes of capitalization of identity and assimilation. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2022
  • THE CASSANDRA MURDERS (formerly titled TIME AFTER TIME AGAIN)
    15 Nov. 2022
    The community of national and local readers for the 45th annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival (summer 2022) enthusiastically recommends THE CASSANDRA MURDERS as a Semi-Finalist at Playwrights Foundation. We were deeply moved by the play’s use of parallel worlds and time structure to investigate cyclical systemic patterns and what one will do for protection when failed by societal structures. We were compelled by this play’s promise using classical narratives well to spark conversations on current CSA laws in need of change. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2022
  • Beheading Columbus
    15 Nov. 2022
    The community of national & local readers for the 45th Bay Area Playwrights Festival (summer 2022) enthusiastically recommends BEHEADING COLUMBUS as a Semi-Finalist. We were deeply moved by this play's unpacking of what makes identity - DNA, family, culture, - as it all comes into question for two sisters navigating a new understanding of who they are as the play investigates the colonizer and colonized. We were compelled by this play's assuredness with technical skills, as well as Burbano's ongoing artistry with several plays she's sent BAPF. We hope this play finds dedicated collaborators and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2022
  • and come apart
    15 Nov. 2022
    The community of national & local readers for the 45th Bay Area Playwrights Festival (summer 2022) enthusiastically recommends AND COME APART as a Semi-Finalist at Playwrights Foundation. We were deeply moved by this play's exploration of intergenerational trauma and grief through unconventional, sensory means. We were compelled by this play's promise in its skilled use of poetic form, surrealism and distinct, recognizable characters. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2022"
  • Our Black Death: Plagues, Turnips, and Other Romantic Gestures
    25 Mar. 2022
    The community of national and local readers for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2021 enthusiastically recommends OUR BLACK DEATH as a Semi-Finalist at Playwrights Foundation out of 755 plays. We highly enjoyed this whimsical and highly stylized journey through the bubonic plague, told with a strong queer voice centering femme characters. We were compelled by the play's assured pace and the magic in the storytelling, with a sense of hope amidst a plague. We hope this play is widely read, finds dedicated collaborators, and moves swiftly towards production. #BAPF2021