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New Works Lab

Each year Waterwell commissions a new full length play by an emerging playwright written specifically for the actors in their senior year in the Drama Program @ PPAS.

Designed to stimulate the creation of high-quality new plays for young actors, the New Works Lab offers emerging and established playwrights the chance to develop their work with the support of professional directors and designers and a cast of exceptionally talented high school artists. The students, in turn, not only get to experience the process of new play development process but also collaborate with an exciting new voice in the American theater. In so doing they learn to embrace change and surprise, to stay curious and compassionate, and to feel the power of their own voice and their own story – skills that will serve them in whatever they choose to pursue.

The inaugural New Works playwright in 2011 was Lebanese-American and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Stephen Karam (The HumansSons of the Prophet), who wrote a contemporary musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. In 2012, two-time Innovative Theater Award winner Bekah Brunstetter (Be A Good Little Widow, Oohrah!) drew heavily on cast interviews to create her high school dramedy meets invasion sci-fi, Nothing Is The End Of The World (except for the end of the world). In 2013, Princeton and PoNY fellow A. Rey Pamatmat (Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them) developed A Spare Me, a teenage adventure in a world on the brink of destruction. (All three of those plays have been published by and are available from Playscripts at the links below.)

The 2014 playwright was Nick Jones (The Coward, Jollyship the Whiz Bang), who currently works as a writer and producer for Orange is the New Black and who created Salomé of the Moon, a piece based on the biblical story of Salome. Qui Nguyen, 2015 Steinberg Award winner (VIETGONE), wrote Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin in his signature comic book/action movie style for the Class of 2015. And in 2016, Obie winner Dael Orlandersmith delved into interior world of today’s youth with Some of the Things Inside.

More recently, Mona Mansour (The Way West), who is currently a resident playwright at New Dramatists, wrote In the Open for the Class of 2017, tackling the complexity of the truth of an incident versus the various perspectives surrounding it. This past school year, Charise Castro Smith (Feathers and Teeth and The Hunchback of Seville) challenged the cast to investigates our definition of authenticity while poking fun at today’s representation in Hollywood, our gullible culture, and obsession with social media in Hoax.

To purchase or license New Works Lab plays from Playscripts, use the following links: