COMMITMENT TO NEW WORKS

At Barrington Stage Company, we believe that new work is the heart and soul of theatre. If theatre is to thrive and create meaningful and new experiences for audiences, then it is vital to support working playwrights and their visions of the world we live in. Since its inception in 1995, BSC has produced 36 new works, 19 of which have moved on to New York and major regional theatres around the country.

In 2019, the Board of Directors created the Julianne Boyd New Works Fund to support artistic innovation and sustainability. Named for BSC’s Co-founder and Artistic Director, who has a long-held commitment of bringing fresh and dynamic voices to the stage, the Fund supports the ongoing development and production of original plays and musicals. This Fund is made possible in part by the generous support of the Sydelle Blatt New Works Commission Program and the Bonnie and Terry Burman New Play Award, whose vision and philanthropy allows BSC to develop and produce work that challenges us, that asks questions and that can spark joy and passion in our hearts.

BSC seeks artists whose unique voices speak to our audiences with relevant and dynamic new work that questions the world we live in — questions that may not have answers, but will begin a dialogue between the artists and our audiences. To this end, BSC’s New Works programming employs a multi-faceted approach including PlayWorks, the Musical Theatre Lab and Commissions.

The Sydelle Blatt New Works Commission Program

A $1 million gift from board members Sydelle and Lee Blatt will create the Sydelle Blatt New Works Commission Program, which will commission new work and support its production and development. The money will be provided to Barrington Stage in annual $100,000 increments over a 10-year period. It is the largest gift that Barrington Stage has received solely dedicated to new work over the performing arts company’s 25-year history.

The Burman New Play Award

Through the generosity of Bonnie and Terry Burman, Barrington Stage has created the Bonnie & Terry Burman New Play Award. The Grand Prize winner, Stacey Rose’s America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of the American Negro, received $25,000 and a World Premiere production at BSC in summer 2019. Two plays also received $5,000: Brent Askari’s American Underground, which premiered at BSC in fall 2019, and Christina Quintana’s Citizen Scientist. The Burman New Play Award further establishes Barrington Stage’s commitment to supporting new plays and the playwrights who write them.

PlayWorks

In 2000, Barrington Stage produced its first new play with Suzanne Bradbeer’s Full Bloom, but it wasn’t until 2003/2004 that our new plays gained momentum with the world premieres of Mark St. Germain’s Ears on a Beatle, followed by his The God Committee, both of which moved Off Broadway.

In 2009, Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session secured our place in the development of new plays because of its tremendous success with both critics and audiences. It played for ten weeks at BSC, the longest-running play in BSC history, and then ran Off Broadway for more than two years. The world premiere of Dr. Ruth, All the Way, a play based on the life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, starring Debra Jo Rupp and directed by Julianne Boyd, was a sold-out hit at BSC in 2012. Renamed Becoming Dr. Ruth, it ran Off Broadway in the winter of 2013. In 2016, BSC commissioned and produced the world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Son, which won the Laurents/Hatcher Award for Best New Play by an Emerging Playwright in 2016 and recently concluded a Broadway run, starring Kerry Washington. American Son was later made into a Netflix movie.

Musical Theatre Lab

BSC’s commitment to new work is also seen in the acclaimed Musical Theatre Lab (MTL). MTL was created after BSC workshopped and premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2004). The success of Spelling Bee changed the course of BSC’s development of new musicals. We realized that BSC could become a place for musical theatre writers to develop their work on all levels: from staged readings to workshops to full productions, and so created MTL. As William Finn writes, “Musicals, when they are good, soar. But what seems effortless is only achieved through a painstaking, exacting developmental process…few people understand the complexity of the process because they don’t see the work being developed. They don’t see the talent of the unproduced.” Since its creation in 2006, 11 world premieres and six workshops of new musicals have been produced, and many have moved on to New York and around the country, most notably:

  • The critically acclaimed The Burnt Part Boys (2006), written by Nathan Tysen, Chris Miller and Marianne Elder, received a production at Playwrights Horizons in 2010.
  • See Rock City and Other Destinations, by Adam Mathias and Brad Alexander, was produced in 2008 and later played at the Transport Group in New York.
  • In 2010, BSC produced The Memory Show, by Sara Cooper and Zachary Redler, which was later seen at the Transport Group in 2013.
  • The Black Suits, by Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock, received a workshop production at BSC in 2012 and received its world premiere at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.
  • In 2013, Southern Comfort, written by Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis and starring Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy, opened to rave reviews and transferred to the Public Theater in NYC in 2016.
  • Broadway Bounty Hunter, by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin and Jason SweetTooth Williams, which played Off Broadway in summer 2019.
  • In August 2019, we produced Niko Tsakalakos and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s Fall Springs on the Mainstage.
  • In August 2020, we will produce A Crossing — Co-conceived by Joshua Bergasse and Mark St. Germain, Book by Mark St. Germain, Music & Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, Created in association with Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, Directed & Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse — on the St. Germain Stage.

MTL World Premieres

  • The Burnt Part Boys (2006)
  • Funked Up Fairy Tales (2007)
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (2008)
  • See Rock City and Other Destinations (2008)
  • Pool Boy (2010)
  • The Memory Show (2010)
  • Mormons, Mothers and Monsters (2011)
  • The Black Suits (2012)
  • Southern Comfort (2013)
  • The Golem of Havana (2014)
  • Romance in Hard Times (2014)
  • Presto Change-O (2016)
  • Broadway Bounty Hunter (2016)
  • The Royal Family of Broadway (2018)
  • Fall Springs (2019)
  • A Crossing (2020)

MTL Workshops

  • Travels with My Discontent (2006)
  • Disorder: A Mother/Daughter Vaudville (2006)
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (2007)
  • My Scary Girl (2008)
  • The Black Suits (2012)
  • Romance in Hard Times (2014)

MTL Readings

  • Watt?!? (2008)
  • Poolside at the Hotel Bel-Air (2009)
  • Memory is the Mother of All Wisdom (2009)
  • The Suicide: A Musical Comedy (2012)
  • Presto Change-O (2014)
  • Butterflies (2017)
  • Fall Springs (2018)

BSC Youth Theatre World Premiere Musicals

Commissions

Each year, Barrington Stage also commissions talented playwrights and musical theatre writing teams. By commissioning playwrights, BSC makes developing and premiering new plays and musicals a cornerstone of what we do.

Current Commissions awarded to:

  • Playwright Dipika Guha
  • Playwright Rachel Lynett
  • Playwright Bekah Brunstetter
  • Musical Writing and Dance Team Josh Bergasse, Mark St. Germain, Zoe Sarnak and the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company
  • Musical Writing Team of Sukari Jones, Melvin Tunstall III and Joel Waggoner

SUPPORT THE JULIANNE BOYD NEW WORKS FUND

Please get involved and help us sustain the work we do by contributing to the Julianne Boyd New Works Initiative. Help us produce more works like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Freud’s Last Session and American Son. Please contact Jessica Provenz, Director of Development, at Development@BarringtonStageCo.org or 413-997-6110 for further information.

Make a gift to the Julianne Boyd New Works Fund