The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Labyrinth Theater Company's Barn Reading Series and new play development programs

Grant Information
Categories Arts , Community
Location United States
Cycle Year 2015
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Labyrinth Theater Company
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Danny Feldman
Phone 212-513-1014
155 Bank Street
New York
Additional Information
Used for Support from The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will help underwrite Labyrinth Theater Company’s Barn Reading Series and new play development activities. Both endeavors support artists at all stages of their careers with the guidance, mentorship, and feedback they need to grow as playwrights. Your grant will help us sustain a dynamic, artistic home that playwrights can return to each time they create a new piece.
Benefits Our Barn Reading Series provides tailored resources for – and individualized support of – all participating playwrights, resulting in higher quality of work. Our play development efforts, which include the Barn Series, typically result in the development of 50 new pieces of American theater, contributing to the vibrant American theater canon. In addition, Labyrinth will continue to thrive as a haven where artists return again and again, while also continually welcoming and nurturing diverse, fresh voices.
Proposal Description Labyrinth Theater Company is grateful for the past support of the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation. A renewed grant of $10,000 will help us deliver our Barn Reading Series, which, in conjunction with our robust play development activities, seeds the next great dramatic works, showcases new talent, and incubates innovative works on our stage.

Our popular Barn Reading Series features free staged readings of plays by Company members and guest artists. Each play is presented after 15 hours of rehearsal, and the playwrights remain actively engaged throughout the process. Through workshop rehearsals and the presence of an audience at culminating performances, the Barn Reading Series helps writers to focus on "what works" and "what doesn't.”

This year’s Barn Reading Series will feature eight plays spread over the first two weeks in December 2015: THREE UNCLES by Frank Pugliese; AWE/STRUCK by Christopher Oscar Pena;THE GAP by Emma Goidal; HOPPING ON ROOFTOPS by Paula-Pizzi Black; LUCKY PENNY by David Deblinger; SHUT UP WHEN YOU TALK TO ME by Stephen Belber; and AN ENTOMOLOGIST'S LOVE STORY by Melissa Ross.

The Series enables and empowers playwrights to deeply analyze their work with the guidance and support of Labyrinth's artistic staff and selected directors. Last year, in response to our playwrights’ feedback, we reduced the number of public readings for each play from 2 to 1 and increased the number of working hours at the table for the playwright, actors and directors.

Ultimately, this Series gives our artists new opportunities to make their voices heard and gives audiences the chance to play their part in the process. Numerous plays presented in the Barn Reading Series have gone on to be produced on Labyrinth’s mainstage or at other regional theaters; this year two of three plays in our mainstage season, EMPANADA LOCA by Aaron Mark and Mona Mansour’s THE WAY WEST, were part of our Barn Reading Series in prior years.

In tandem with our Barn Reading Series, our play development activities effectively deepen the individualized support we provide to playwrights. Our greatest asset is our talented, diverse Company members, all of whom drive our responsiveness and flexibility to the development process. We successfully execute a completely artist-centric system where the full strength and resources of the Company are brought to bear on the complete life-cycle of a work in development. Because the needs of a work of art can change rapidly as it grows, we need to be able to pivot and respond quickly. Labyrinth’s size and strength of community put us in a unique position to do just that.

Company members and guest artists at all stages of their careers may submit projects year-round for inclusion in our play development programs. Labyrinth staff evaluate the proposals and select projects to support to varying extents. Our staff then works with each artist to help them shape a development schedule best suited to the strengths and weaknesses of their project. Support for playwrights includes participation in workshops, mentorship, editing, and research assistance – constituting a flexible work model that helps artists to articulate their needs and create work schedules that serve their own projects.

As Labyrinth continues to refine our play development pipeline, our goal is to provide an increasingly artist-driven model that helps playwrights take risks, grow, and create innovative new pieces for the American stage. Our flexible process allows artists the resources to effectively create regardless of their style, approach, or needs. It lets artists bring us an idea in its very early, experimental stage, and explore what sort of play it will become. We believe that the opportunity for artists to share ideas in a community with an institutional history and shared language results in richer and deeper pieces.

Our play development efforts and programs have been designed to help artists at every stage of play creation. For example, our Summer Intensive is an opportunity for actors, playwrights, and directors to come together to work on new pieces within an intensive, ensemble setting. Our 29-hour Development Workshops support promising plays that could benefit from an extended rehearsal period with actors and a director; this program supports work that is close to production-ready but has a final dramaturgical and logistical problem to be solved. Also, our One-Act Experiment commissions six emerging or established playwrights to each write a piece for Labyrinth’s Company member actors, pairing them with an established director who serves as a mentor and dramaturg.

New this season, our Up Next Series identifies eight talented early-career playwrights with fresh and diverse voices who have written exciting new plays that could still benefit from artistic development. These are plays that are not quite ready for production but which nonetheless reveal a writer of depth with a unique perspective and voice. Over the course of the year, each playwright will be given a 29-hour workshop that culminates in a public reading before an invited audience. During the workshop the playwright will be partnered with an established director and actors, and will receive dramaturgical assistance from the artistic staff of Labyrinth.

For the pilot year of this program, the playwrights (and plays) are: Uzman Ali (FUNDOS), Frank Boudreaux (THE WORLD GETS LOWEN & JOE), Keli Goff (THE BLACK FRIEND), Paola Lazaro Munoz (CONTIGO), Vickie Ramirez (STAND-OFF AT HWY #37), Harrison Rivers (WHERE STORMS ARE BORN), James A. Tyler (DOLPHINS & SHARKS), and Pia Wilson (BLACK BEE).

Labyrinth serves as an important home for diverse voices, both emerging and established, and the vibrant work they create. Over 25 years, Labyrinth has become a beacon in the field for artists and audiences seeking challenging, non-traditional plays in all stages of development. With your help, Labyrinth will continue to perform daring and untraditional theater, reach and engage diverse audiences, and offer resources to artists at all stages of their career. Thank you for your consideration of this grant request.