2014 National Playwrights Conference Selections Announced

Posted by Communications on April 14, 2014

2014 National Playwrights Conference Selections 

The O'Neill announced today its six new plays selected for development at the 50th annual National Playwrights Conference (NPC):

Tiger Style! by Mike Lew
I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard by Halley Feiffer
Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino
The Imaginary Music Critic Who Doesn't Exist by David Mitchell Robinson
Icarus Burns by Christopher Oscar Peña
Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield

> Click to view play synopses and writer information.

Playwright Samuel D. Hunter will also be in residence during the conference working on a new play. No stranger to NPC, Mr. Hunter's A Great Wilderness was selected for development at the 2013 conference. He began his theatrical career at the O'Neill when he was invited to NPC 2005 by Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg during her first season leading the conference.

In addition to the seven selected writers at this year's conference, Goldberg also announced that she will direct the readings of David Mitchell Robinson's The Imaginary Music Critic Who Doesn't Exist. Trip Cullman will direct Halley Feiffer's I'm Gonna Pray For You So Hard. Further directing and casting decisions will be announced at a later date.

The National Playwrights Conference is the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's founding program. Under the artistic leadership of Ms. Goldberg, each play will undergo the O’Neill’s signature development process, employing acclaimed professional creative and support staff, including directors, dramaturgs, actors, and designers to bring the six new plays to life for the first time. Playwrights spend three weeks in July developing and presenting public staged readings of their work during NPC’s 50th season.

The six selected works were chosen from a record-breaking pool of over 1,200 plays received through the O’Neill’s open submissions process, which allows any playwright – with or without agent representation – to submit. Readers from across the country chose plays based on merit, without any authorship information.

Speaking about the season, Ms. Goldberg commented, "This was the most competitive O'Neill season yet, with over 1,200 submissions sent in to us. I am very excited to bring these six artists to the National Playwrights Conference for our 50th anniversary season. It is an incredibly dynamic and eclectic group of storytellers whose voices are at the forefront of the American theater. It is a privilege to develop their work in this, my 10th season as Artistic Director."

Almost sixty plays developed during Goldberg’s previous nine seasons with NPC have gone on to world premieres. The Nether by Jennifer Haley, developed during the 2011 NPC, was awarded the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and received a critically acclaimed world premiere production at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles in 2013. Lost Lake by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Auburn, developed at the 2013 conference, will receive its world premiere production at Manhattan Theatre Club in October 2014. A Great Wilderness by Samuel D. Hunter, also developed at the 2013 conference, received its world premiere at Seattle Repertory Theatre in January 2014. Lauren Yee's Samsara will have its world premiere in 2015 at Victory Gardens.

O'Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked, "I'm thrilled to welcome these six/seven writers this season, our 50th anniversary. They represent the best of new playwriting today. While construction truncates our 2014 season, I look forward to the new housing and rehearsal space accommodating even more exciting new writers and projects in the future."

The National Playwrights Conference runs from Wednesday, July 2 through Saturday, July 19 at the O’Neill’s campus in Waterford, Connecticut. Box Office ((860) 443-1238) and online ticket sales begin Wednesday, June 11; advance ticket sales are available to O’Neill Members beginning Wednesday, May 21. Schedules are subject to change.

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Announces 2014 National Music Theater Conference Selections 

Two New Musicals to be Developed as Part of 50th Summer Season:
The War Dept. & The White City 

The Oneill is proud to announce today its two new musicals selected for development at the 36th National Music Theater Conference:

The War Dept.
Libretto, Music, & Lyrics by Jim Bauer
Libretto, Art, & Video Direction by Ruth Bauer
View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, June 28 at 8pm; Sunday, June 29 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 2 at 8pm; Friday, July 4 at 7pm

Synopsis: The American Civil War has ended, but the terrible task of cleaning up the mess – and trying to make sense of it all – has only just begun. That work falls in large part to the eccentric savant Private William T. Clarke working in an obscure and mysterious division of The War Department, sorting through unmanageable mountains of records housed now in Ford’s Theater, dark since Lincoln’s assassination there three years before. Clarke, who is fighting demons of his own, finds his strange and insular domain invaded by three desperate visitors in the same day, each looking for something precious lost in the war, unearthing tense and powerful emotions buried just below the surface. Unfortunately, Clarke may be the only person who can help them, and the war may not be over yet.

The White City
Words by Julia Gytri
Music by Avi Amon
View creative team bios
Readings: Saturday, July 5 at 8pm; Sunday, July 6 at 3pm; Wednesday, July 9 at 8pm; Friday, July 11 at 3pm

Synopsis: Chicago, 1893. The city hosts the World’s Columbian Exposition. Change is palpable: all in attendance hope to propel society into a shining new era. We follow Lucy, a rambunctious sharpshooter from Buffalo Bill's Wild West, as she explores the Fair, thrilled by the fast-paced modernity of city life. But trouble simmers beneath the façade of the shimmering “White City” when young women begin to go missing, as Henry Howard Holmes, a local doctor, exploits the innovations presented at the fair for his own demented purposes. Loosely based on the true story of America’s first recognized serial killer, The White City explores all of the delightful (and deadly) possibilities that accompany the introduction of new technology.

Breaking the 2013 conference's records, the National Music Theater Conference received over 200 submissions for 2014. Under the leadership of conference Artistic Director Paulette Haupt, each selected work will under go the O'Neill's signature development process, employing acclaimed professional actors, dramaturgs, directors, and music directors in an intensive series of rehearsals which culminate in four staged script-in-hand readings open to the public.

Speaking about this year's selections, Ms. Haupt said, "The selection process for this summer was daunting, with 211 applicants marking a record year for us. It is always astonishing to know how much talent is out there needing and deserving to have their voices heard. We are proud to support the works of Jim and Ruth Bauer and Avi Amon and Julia Gytri this year with two inspired music theater works of exceptional quality."

Since its founding in 1978, the National Music Theater Conference has developed nearly 120 new musicals, including early works of award-winning writers and composers such as Kirsten Childs, Tan Dun, Andrew Lippa, Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, Paul Oakley Stovall, and Jeannine Tesori. Many have received productions and acclaim worldwide.

Joe Masteroff and Edward Thomas' Desire Under the Elms (2003 Grammy nominee) was the first work to be developed at the Conference in 1978. Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti, and Maury Yeston’s Nine, developed in 1979, was the Tony Award winner for Best Musical and Best Score in 1982 and Best Revival of a Musical in 2003. Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez, and Jeff Marx’s Avenue Q, developed in 2002, won three Tony Awards in 2004, including Best Musical. In the Heights, a 2005 project with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, received the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Musical in 2007 and four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2008.

The O’Neill’s Executive Director, Preston Whiteway, remarked, "The National Music Theater Conference remains at the forefront of fostering this unique American art form. I am very excited for these pieces to come to the O'Neill to be developed as part of our 50th summer season. Jim and Ruth Bauer's The War Dept. and Julia Gytri and Avi Amon's The White City continue the robust tradition of the American musical."

Direct support for creative artists provided by The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. The National Music Theater Conference runs from Saturday, June 28 through Friday, July 11 at the O’Neill’s campus in Waterford, Connecticut.

Box Office ((860) 443-1238) and online ticket sales begin Wednesday, June 11; advance ticket sales are available to O’Neill Members beginning Wednesday, May 21. Schedules are subject to change.





Launch of National Music Theater Institute on Schedule for Fall Semester of 2014


Looking down Cottage RowHartford, CT – The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has officially been granted $3 Million in bonding funds from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, allowing it to move forward with construction of housing and rehearsal facilities required to launch a new program in fall of 2014.

The National Music Theater Institute (NMTI) will serve as a new program of the existing National Theater Institute, which has been training undergraduates in a credit-bearing semester in dramatic theater since 1970. NMTI will offer a semester-away program in all areas of musical theater training for college undergraduates from the U.S. and abroad.

From porch looking uphillThe expansion, the largest in the Center’s history, includes seven new dormitory cottages creating living spaces for 65 artists and faculty, a laundry building, a new rehearsal hall and the renovation of existing buildings into additional production and rehearsal space. The town of Waterford recently renewed the O’Neill’s lease for 60-years on its 305 Great Neck Road property, and has approved all construction permits clearing the way for a late summer ground breaking.

Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked, “The O’Neill is entering an exciting and transformative time in its history, equal in implication to the future of American theater as our founding nearly 50 years ago. We are grateful for the support of Governor Malloy and the Connecticut Department of Economic Development, whose investment will join private donations making this project a reality.”

The National Music Theater Institute will be a unique program internationally, with comprehensive seven-day-a week-training in all areas of musical theater, including composition and playwriting, acting, voice, directing, choreography, and design.

“With the recent successes of network television programs such as Glee and Smash, and leveraging the O’Neill’s vast professional resources in musical theater & undergraduate training and the Broadway community, NMTI is poised for success," Mr. Whiteway said. "After 6 years in planning, the Board and staff are thrilled to get started.”

For information about the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center or the National Music Theater Institute, please visit www.theoneill.org or call (860) 443.5378.

Across from Rehearsal Building


Meryl Streep to Receive 14th Annual Monte Cristo Award

Posted by Communications on October 16, 2013



“A lesson I learned in drama school: the teacher asks, how do you be the queen? And everybody says, 'Oh it's about posture and authority.' And the teacher said, no, it's about how the air in the room shifts when you walk in.” – Meryl Streep

Meryl StreepThe air in New York City will shift on April 21, 2014 when theater, film, and television legend Meryl Streep is honored by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center with the 14th Annual Monte Cristo Award.  One of the most distinguished achievement awards for an actor to receive, the Monte Cristo Award celebrates a theater artist who exemplifies the great playwright Eugene O’Neill’s pioneering spirit, his unceasing artistic commitment to excellence, and accomplishment.   

Meryl Streep in the O'Neill AmphitheaterMs. Streep will accept the 14th Annual Monte Cristo Award at a formal gala held in her honor, complete with cocktails, seated dinner, and plenty of notable entertainment. Past Award recipients include Christopher Plummer, Michael Douglas, Hal Prince, Kevin Spacey, Brian Dennehy, James Earl Jones, and Wendy Wasserstein.  The award this year will be presented by Ms. Streep’s longtime friend, fellow Yale alum, and O’Neill colleague Joe Grifasi.

A graduate of Vassar College and Yale School of Drama, one of Meryl Streep’s first professional jobs after Yale was at the National Playwrights Conference in 1975, during which she acted in five plays over six weeks.  Since then, she has earned a spot as a living legend whose empathy for her characters and the diversity of women she has chosen to portray has distinguished her work in film, television, and theater for nearly three decades.  Since her time at the O’Neill, she has been recognized with the highest awards and achievements in each category, including three Academy Awards (17 nominations), eight Golden Globe Awards (27 nominations), two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, and a Tony Award nomination.  She was awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004 and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Meryl Streep Acting at the O'NeillMore recently, Mrs. Streep was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011 for her contribution to American culture through performing arts. In 2013, she will appear in the film adaptation of Tracy Letts' play August: Osage County with Julia Roberts and will star in a film version Stephen Sondheim's fairy tale musical Into the Woods, directed by Rob Marshall, to be released in December 2014.

Besides acting, she continues to be an active advocate for the environment and for women’s health initiatives worldwide.  The O’Neill is incredibly proud of her achievements on and off the stage and is thrilled to celebrate her countless achievements in April.

More details to come – stay tuned to the O’Neill’s website, our Facebook, and our Twitter as we unveil more details on our biggest Monte Cristo Award yet.

To learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Special Events Manager, Ainslie Seeber at events@theoneill.org or call (860) 443-5378 ext. 285 to inquire about availability.

Click here to download a copy of the official press release.


National Music Theater Institute offers intensive semester-long, credit-earning curriculum taught by industry professionals

Waterford, CT — The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has launched an exciting new division of the National Theater Institute, the National Music Theater Institute (NMTI). An unparalleled program, NMTI is for driven students seeking a launching pad into the music theater profession through broad-based, ensemble training.


Applications for the inaugural fall 2014 semester are due by March 20.

NMTI is a 14-week program offered twice a year with classes seven days a week from 7:30am until 10pm. The NMTI experience — a conservatory-like training regimen, a faculty of professional artists, and two weeks training in New York City through a singular series of NMTI workshops and master classes — is one that students cannot find at liberal arts colleges. It is a springboard for those pursuing a career in music theater to hone their craft, find their voice, and meet with like-minded collaborators.

The two-time Tony Award-winning Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, known as "America's theater laboratory", with its rich theater history and reputation for artistic development and excellence is a dynamic place to study musical theater. Dozens of musicals including the award-winning NineAvenue Q[title of show], and In The Heights had their beginnings on the storied Waterford, CT, campus.

NMTINMTI students train with industry professionals and master teachers in Acting for Music Theater, Writing the Musical, Dance/Movement, Directing for Music Theater, and Singing/Voice. These core classes are supplemented by workshops and mater classes including: Cabaret, Greek Chorus, Business of the Business, Producing for Theater, Breakout Break Through Musicals, and Design, among many others.

NMTI awards 5 undergraduate course credits (20 credit hours) through transcripts issued by Connecticut College, NTI’s school of record.

National Theater Institute Artistic Director Rachel Jett remarks, “NTI redefines what one believes to be possible, the possibilities of what can happen in a day, and the possibilities of what can happen on stage. NMTI will enable students to create their own work collaboratively and in every discipline, and therefore lay groundwork for the future of the American musical.”

NMTI is modeled directly on the successful National Theater Institute Semester which, since 1970, has nurtured the careers of almost 3,500 theater artists, including: award-winning actors Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club, "Alias"), John Krasinski ("The Office," writer/director Brief Interviews with Hideous Men), Josh Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother," writer/director Liberal Arts), Jeremy Piven ("Entourage," "Mr. Selfridge"), and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May MarleneAvengers: Age of Ultron); directors Greg Allen (The NeoFuturists), Jeremy B. Cohen (Playwrights’ Center), Erica Schmidt, and Rebecca B. Taichman; playwright Adam Bock (The ReceptionistThe ThugsThe Drunken City); producers Susan Booth (Artistic Director, Alliance Theatre) and Barry Grove (Executive Producer, Manhattan Theatre Club); and many more.

For over three decades, the O’Neill’s National Music Theater Conference has been the premiere laboratory for musicals and a prime destination for music theater artist including: Jeanine Tesori, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti, John Tartaglia, Laura Bell Bundy, Andrew Lippa, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hunter Foster, Cheyenne Jackson, Wesley Taylor, Kate Wetherhead, Betsy Wolfe, Steve Kazee, Andrew Samonsky, Quiara Alegría Hudes, John Lloyd Young, Katie Thompson, Adam Gwon, Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Jeff Whitty, Joel Derfner, Ed Dixon, Sheldon Harnick, Walter Edgar Kennon, Howard Marren, Joe Masteroff, Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik, Rachel Sheinken, Michael Kooman, and Christopher Dimond.

NMTIThe O’Neill’s Executive Director Preston Whiteway comments, “NMTI is fortunate to be able to call upon these and other professional artists who, over the last 50 years, have made the O’Neill their artistic home to share their talents in our classroom and place NMTI at the forefront of contemporary American music theater education.”

The current NMTI Advisory Board includes: Preston Whiteway, Rachel Jett, David Jaffe (NTI Alum; Chair of Theater, Connecticut College), David Dorfman (Choreographer; Chair, Connecticut College Dance Department), Ted Chapin (NTI Alum; President, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), Donna DiNovelli (NTI Faculty; lyricist, Prairie), Paulette Haupt, (Artistic Director, the O'Neill's National Music Theater Conference), Scott Richards (NYU-Tisch), Thomas Viertel (O’Neill Chairman), and Jack Viertel (Artistic Director, City Center Encores).

The O’Neill is in the process of a major campus expansion, providing seven new dormitories, a state-of-the-art rehearsal hall, and additional production and rehearsal space to accommodate the fall 2014 semester.

NTI's six intensive credit-earning programs are for writers, singers, directors, actors, designers, and dancers who are high school graduates, undergraduates, or post-graduates seeking a launching pad into the professional world.

To learn more and apply please visit www.theoneill.org/nti or follow on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram(@NTIRiskFailRisk).