national playwrights conference

Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director

The O’Neill’s founding program presents eight new works this summer season by a broad mix of brand new, mid-career, and established artists. The plays were chosen from 1,429 plays received through the O’Neill’s open submissions process. Each new play undergoes the O’Neill’s signature development process and is presented in staged readings featuring award-winning casts and creative teams. 

july 5 at 8:15pm   •

about the new play


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley comes to the O'Neill for the first time with her play, Lightning. In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the Blue Mountains and sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a storm gains strength. The play is a theatrical and captivating story of resilience and determination in a most unforgiving world.




about the writer


Beth Henley was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Her plays have been produced internationally and translated into over ten languages. Crimes of the Heart (The Golden Theatre) and The Wake of Jamey Foster (Eugene O'Neill Theatre) were performed on Broadway. Off-Broadway productions include: The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Impossible Marriage, and Family Week. Her play Ridiculous Fraud was produced at McCarter Theatre as well as South Coast Repertory Theatre. Ms. Henley’s, The Jacksonian premiered at the Geffen Theatre in January 2012 to great acclaim. Robert Falls directed and the cast included Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Amy Madigan, and Glenne Headly. It was performed Off-Broadway at the New Group. Studio Theatre produced the world premiere of her play, Laugh in 2015. Beth Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for Crimes of the Heart. Other awards include: American Theatre Wing 1998 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Playwriting, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist for Crimes of the Heart, and Ridiculous Fraud; Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award 2000; New York Stage and Film Honoree, 2007; ATHE Career Achievement Award, 2010: Honoree William Inge Festival, 2017. Ms. Henley has the honor of serving as Theatre Arts Presidential Professor at LMU, Los Angeles. She is a member of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Dramatist Guild, and the Academy of Arts and Science.




cast & creative team


Director: Wendy C. Goldberg Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Raquel Davis Cast: Marin Ireland, Maggie Lacey





july 6 & 7 at 7:15pm   •

about the writer


Benjamin Benne’s plays include at the very bottom of a body of water, q u e r e n c i a: an imagined autobiography about forbidden fruits, and #nowall. He’s been the recipient of a 2017-18 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting and 2016-17 Many Voices Fellowship at The Playwrights’ Center, as well as the Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award. His plays have been finalists for the Princess Grace Award, Ingram New Works Lab, Blue Ink Playwriting Award, National Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Headwaters New Play Festival, and Austin Playhouse Festival of New American Plays, as well as runner-up for the National Latino Playwriting Award and semifinalist for the P73 Playwriting Fellowship. His work has been developed/produced by The Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series, The Lark’s Playwrights’ Week, Two River Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Teatro Milagro, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Annex Theatre, Forward Flux, Umbrella Project, and Parley, among others. Most recently, Benjamin's work was featured on 50 Playwrights Project's Best Unproduced Latin@/x Plays 2018 list. He was born and raised in Los Angeles County and currently resides in Minneapolis, MN. www.benjaminbenne.com




about the new play


Nearly 18 years ago, Alma crossed the border between Mexico and the United States, pregnant with a child and great dreams for the life ahead of them. Now it’s December 2, 2016, Alma has been studying for her citizenship test while her daughter, Angel, studies for her SATs. But since the election, Alma has been having haunting nightmares about elephants and spider webs. And on the eve before Angel’s test, Trump’s voice is blaring from the television when Alma comes home early to discover that Angel isn’t at home studying.




cast & creative team


Director: Elena Araoz Dramaturg: Catherine Rodríguez Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Christian DeAngelis Cast: Cynthia Bastidas, Andrea Morales





july 11 & 12  at 8:15pm   •

about the new play


A writer and a prison inmate embark on an unexpected journey to the realities of long term incarceration and grief, as they work together to craft a statement for his upcoming parole hearing. Lockdown was commissioned by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater through the Toulmin Foundation, and inspired by Cori Thomas’ experiences getting to know and working alongside a number of men currently serving life sentences at San Quentin State Prison.




about the writer


Cori Thomas’ plays include: Lockdown; When January Feels Like Summer; LIBERIAN LEGACY TRILOGY: Pa’s Hat, Flight 109, In The Beginning; Citizens Market; The Ballad of Ella May; My Secret Language of Wishes; The Princess, The Breast, and The Lizard; The Unusual Love Life of Bedbugs and Other Creatures; The Hair Play; Waking Up; His Daddy; our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Developed and produced: Sundance Institute, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh), Goodman Theater, Page 73 Productions, Playwrights Horizons, Lark Play Development Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, GTTR, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Mosaic Theatre Co, Central Square Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Passage Theatre, Working Theater, Playwrights Realm, New Federal Theatre, New Georges, New Black Fest. Commissions: Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, South Coast Rep, Sloan Foundation, Pillsbury House Theatre, Central Square Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Black Fest, The Slavery Project, The Working Theater. New Dramatists Resident, Fellow at Sundance, MacDowell, Bogliasco Foundation, and Baryshnikov Center Fellow. Playwrigh-in-Residence at Yale through Page 73 Productions. Awards and Honors: Inaugural Italian American Playwrights Project pick ( When January feels Like Summer) will be translated into Italian and published. American Theater Critics Association 2011 Osborn Award— When January Feels Like Summer; Edgerton Foundation New Play Award; 2016 Horton Foote Playwriting Prize Finalist; 2 time Theodore Ward Prize Winner. When January Feels Like Summer—Dramatic Publishing Company. Upcoming: World Premiere 2019 Lockdown at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Co; Writer - Audible Original Content Series “The Walls”; “untitled” feature Film for HBO Films. Cori is a founder of the non-profit organization www.pashatfoundation.org which does work with former male child soldiers in Liberia, West Africa. She is represented by Leah Hamos at The Gersh Agency lhamos@gersh.com.




cast & creative team


Director: Kent Gash Dramaturg: Ignacia Delgado Scenic Design: Lawrence Moten Lighting Design: Raquel Davis Cast: John Earl Jelks, Andy Lucien





july 13 & 14  at 7:15pm   •

about the new play


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley comes to the O'Neill for the first time with her play, Lightning. In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the Blue Mountains and sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a storm gains strength. The play is a theatrical and captivating story of resilience and determination in a most unforgiving world.




about the writer


Beth Henley was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Her plays have been produced internationally and translated into over ten languages. Crimes of the Heart (The Golden Theatre) and The Wake of Jamey Foster (Eugene O'Neill Theatre) were performed on Broadway. Off-Broadway productions include: The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Impossible Marriage, and Family Week. Her play Ridiculous Fraud was produced at McCarter Theatre as well as South Coast Repertory Theatre. Ms. Henley’s, The Jacksonian premiered at the Geffen Theatre in January 2012 to great acclaim. Robert Falls directed and the cast included Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Amy Madigan, and Glenne Headly. It was performed Off-Broadway at the New Group. Studio Theatre produced the world premiere of her play, Laugh in 2015. Beth Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for Crimes of the Heart. Other awards include: American Theatre Wing 1998 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Playwriting, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist for Crimes of the Heart, and Ridiculous Fraud; Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award 2000; New York Stage and Film Honoree, 2007; ATHE Career Achievement Award, 2010: Honoree William Inge Festival, 2017. Ms. Henley has the honor of serving as Theatre Arts Presidential Professor at LMU, Los Angeles. She is a member of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Dramatist Guild, and the Academy of Arts and Science.




cast & creative team


Director: Wendy C. Goldberg Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Raquel Davis Cast: Marin Ireland, Maggie Lacey





july 18 & 19  at 8:15pm   •

about the new play


The old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation—in the breeze, in the cotton fields...and in the crack of the whip. It’s an antebellum fever-dream, where fear and desire entwine in the looming shadow of the Master’s House.




about the writer


Jeremy O. Harris is a theatre artist currently residing in New Haven, CT by way of Los Angeles, CA. As a playwright, his full-length plays include Xander Xyst, Dragon: 1, "Daddy", WATER SPORTS; or insignificant white boys, and Slave Play (winner of the 2018 Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwriting Award and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award). His work as a writer and director has been presented or developed by Pieterspace, JACK, Ars Nova, The New Group, New York Theater Workshop, Performance Space New York, and Playwrights Horizons. His work as an actor has been seen at About Face Theatre, The Goodman, and most recently on HBO’s High Maintenance. He is a 2016 MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Orchard Project Greenhouse artist, resident playwright with Colt Coeur, and is under commission from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons. Jeremy is currently in his second year at the Yale School of Drama.




cast & creative team


Director: Robert O’Hara Dramaturg: Aaron Malkin Scenic Designer: Carolyn Mraz Lighting Designer: Brian Lilienthal Cast: Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, James Cusati-Moyer, Mikeah Ernest Jennings, A.Z. Kelsey, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara, Jesse Pennington,





july 20 at 7:15pm & july 21 at 3:15pm   •

about the new play


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley comes to the O'Neill for the first time with her play, Lightning. In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the Blue Mountains and sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a storm gains strength. The play is a theatrical and captivating story of resilience and determination in a most unforgiving world.




about the writer


Beth Henley was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Her plays have been produced internationally and translated into over ten languages. Crimes of the Heart (The Golden Theatre) and The Wake of Jamey Foster (Eugene O'Neill Theatre) were performed on Broadway. Off-Broadway productions include: The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Impossible Marriage, and Family Week. Her play Ridiculous Fraud was produced at McCarter Theatre as well as South Coast Repertory Theatre. Ms. Henley’s, The Jacksonian premiered at the Geffen Theatre in January 2012 to great acclaim. Robert Falls directed and the cast included Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Amy Madigan, and Glenne Headly. It was performed Off-Broadway at the New Group. Studio Theatre produced the world premiere of her play, Laugh in 2015. Beth Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for Crimes of the Heart. Other awards include: American Theatre Wing 1998 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Playwriting, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist for Crimes of the Heart, and Ridiculous Fraud; Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award 2000; New York Stage and Film Honoree, 2007; ATHE Career Achievement Award, 2010: Honoree William Inge Festival, 2017. Ms. Henley has the honor of serving as Theatre Arts Presidential Professor at LMU, Los Angeles. She is a member of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Dramatist Guild, and the Academy of Arts and Science.




cast & creative team


Director: Wendy C. Goldberg Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Raquel Davis Cast: Marin Ireland, Maggie Lacey





july 25 & 26  at 8:15pm   •

about the new play


The old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation—in the breeze, in the cotton fields...and in the crack of the whip. It’s an antebellum fever-dream, where fear and desire entwine in the looming shadow of the Master’s House.




about the writer


Jeremy O. Harris is a theatre artist currently residing in New Haven, CT by way of Los Angeles, CA. As a playwright, his full-length plays include Xander Xyst, Dragon: 1, "Daddy", WATER SPORTS; or insignificant white boys, and Slave Play (winner of the 2018 Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwriting Award and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award). His work as a writer and director has been presented or developed by Pieterspace, JACK, Ars Nova, The New Group, New York Theater Workshop, Performance Space New York, and Playwrights Horizons. His work as an actor has been seen at About Face Theatre, The Goodman, and most recently on HBO’s High Maintenance. He is a 2016 MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Orchard Project Greenhouse artist, resident playwright with Colt Coeur, and is under commission from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons. Jeremy is currently in his second year at the Yale School of Drama.




cast & creative team


Director: Robert O’Hara Dramaturg: Aaron Malkin Scenic Designer: Carolyn Mraz Lighting Designer: Brian Lilienthal Cast: Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, James Cusati-Moyer, Mikeah Ernest Jennings, A.Z. Kelsey, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara, Jesse Pennington,





july 27 & 28  at 7:15pm   •

about the new play


Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley comes to the O'Neill for the first time with her play, Lightning. In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the Blue Mountains and sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a storm gains strength. The play is a theatrical and captivating story of resilience and determination in a most unforgiving world.




about the writer


Beth Henley was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Her plays have been produced internationally and translated into over ten languages. Crimes of the Heart (The Golden Theatre) and The Wake of Jamey Foster (Eugene O'Neill Theatre) were performed on Broadway. Off-Broadway productions include: The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Impossible Marriage, and Family Week. Her play Ridiculous Fraud was produced at McCarter Theatre as well as South Coast Repertory Theatre. Ms. Henley’s, The Jacksonian premiered at the Geffen Theatre in January 2012 to great acclaim. Robert Falls directed and the cast included Ed Harris, Bill Pullman, Amy Madigan, and Glenne Headly. It was performed Off-Broadway at the New Group. Studio Theatre produced the world premiere of her play, Laugh in 2015. Beth Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for Crimes of the Heart. Other awards include: American Theatre Wing 1998 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Playwriting, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist for Crimes of the Heart, and Ridiculous Fraud; Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award 2000; New York Stage and Film Honoree, 2007; ATHE Career Achievement Award, 2010: Honoree William Inge Festival, 2017. Ms. Henley has the honor of serving as Theatre Arts Presidential Professor at LMU, Los Angeles. She is a member of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Dramatist Guild, and the Academy of Arts and Science.




cast & creative team


Director: Wendy C. Goldberg Dramaturg: Kristin Leahey Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Raquel Davis Cast: Marin Ireland, Maggie Lacey





about the writer


Benjamin Benne’s plays include at the very bottom of a body of water, q u e r e n c i a: an imagined autobiography about forbidden fruits, and #nowall. He’s been the recipient of a 2017-18 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting and 2016-17 Many Voices Fellowship at The Playwrights’ Center, as well as the Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award. His plays have been finalists for the Princess Grace Award, Ingram New Works Lab, Blue Ink Playwriting Award, National Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Headwaters New Play Festival, and Austin Playhouse Festival of New American Plays, as well as runner-up for the National Latino Playwriting Award and semifinalist for the P73 Playwriting Fellowship. His work has been developed/produced by The Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series, The Lark’s Playwrights’ Week, Two River Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Teatro Milagro, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Annex Theatre, Forward Flux, Umbrella Project, and Parley, among others. Most recently, Benjamin's work was featured on 50 Playwrights Project's Best Unproduced Latin@/x Plays 2018 list. He was born and raised in Los Angeles County and currently resides in Minneapolis, MN. www.benjaminbenne.com




about the new play


Nearly 18 years ago, Alma crossed the border between Mexico and the United States, pregnant with a child and great dreams for the life ahead of them. Now it’s December 2, 2016, Alma has been studying for her citizenship test while her daughter, Angel, studies for her SATs. But since the election, Alma has been having haunting nightmares about elephants and spider webs. And on the eve before Angel’s test, Trump’s voice is blaring from the television when Alma comes home early to discover that Angel isn’t at home studying.




cast & creative team


Director: Elena Araoz Dramaturg: Catherine Rodríguez Scenic Designer: Lawrence Moten Lighting Designer: Christian DeAngelis Cast: Cynthia Bastidas, Andrea Morales





 

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