Boston University New Play Initiative (NPI)

The BU New Play Initiative (NPI) expresses our commitment to the School’s participation in the development of new work. This special initiative provides playwrights, directors, designers, and actors with a variety of developmental options to support the collaborative creation of new work for the theatre. Students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists are given the opportunity to utilize the creativity of the rehearsal room to develop their plays, which are then presented through workshop productions. But the life of these new plays doesn’t end on the BU stages. Many New Play Initiative productions are often later fully produced by member companies of our Professional Theatre Initiative or featured at our InCite Arts Festival.

NPI Highlights

  • Translations of Xhosa by Kira Lallas (CFA ’02). The playwright’s account of her personal journey while studying abroad in South Africa. Honored by the Kennedy Center and produced professionally by Olney Theatre Center in 2003. A 2004 nominee for the prestigious Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play.
  • Brendan by Ronan Noone (CAS ’01), a former Huntington Theatre Company playwriting fellow. The story of an Irish immigrant’s struggle to acclimate to his new life in America. Workshopped by the School of Theatre (2005) and professionally produced by HTC (2006). Winner of the 2007 Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) award for Best New Play.
  • Song of Miriam, a dance-based performance piece developed by alumna Gabrielle Orcha (CFA ’06), was the School of Theatre’s award-winning 2007 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival entry.
  • Sow and Weep by Nitzan Halperin (CFA ’07). An intimate look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of two families, one from each side of the battle line. Produced as part of the InCite Arts Festival 2008 and directed by alumnus Jason McDowell-Green (CFA ’07), the play took 3rd prize in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award competition.
  • King of the Jews by Leslie Epstein, director of BU’s graduate Creative Writing Program, tells the darkly humorous story of I.C. Trumpelman, a man whose fancy determines the fate of others. Co-produced by the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the School of Theatre in 2007, this new play received its world premiere at Olney Theatre Center in March 2009.
  • Lizzie Stranton by Lydia R. Diamond, BU School of Theatre assistant professor and author of the critically-acclaimed plays Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus and The Bluest Eye. This re-imagining of Aristophanes’ classic comedy Lysistrata was commissioned and workshopped by the School of Theatre in 2008 at the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion.
  • Call of the Wild—The Musical by Jon Lipsky, School of Theatre professor and author of the Elliot Norton Award-winning play Coming up for Air: An Autojazzography. Call of the WildThe Musical, based on the novel by Jack London, received its world premiere at Olney Theatre Center in April 2009, under the direction of BU MFA Directing alumnus Clay Hopper (CFA ’05).
  • Pope Joan by School of Theatre alumna Michelle Poynton (CFA ’08) was first produced by the School of Theatre in February 2008. A compelling drama that recounts the scandal surrounding the ninth-century German woman who supposedly became Pope, Pope Joan was featured in the 2009 InCite Arts Festival in New York City.
  • Deported/a dream play by BU alumna Joyce Van Dyke (CAS ’96), a Huntington Theatre Company playwriting fellow, was workshopped by the School in February 2009. Subsequently, in May 2009, the play received a staged reading at New Repertory Theatre as part of New Voices @ New Rep. The story of two female survivors of the Armenian genocide, the play has been developed as a collaborative experiment by the playwright, director Judy Braha (SOT assistant professor), and a company of ten actors including SOT faculty members Paula Langton, Rob Najarian, and Marc Cohen.
  • diventare by alumna Jenny Rachel Weiner (CFA ’09) was the School of Theatre’s official 2010 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival entry. When Linda’s life fractures, she escapes to an imaginary underwater kingdom. As a hurricane once again approaches, Linda must choose to retreat further or face the storm. diventare was featured in the 2010 InCite Arts Festival in New York City. The play was awarded the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Student Playwriting Award, and the BU production was later presented at the national KCACTF in Washington, D.C.
  • The Hill, by Huntington Theatre Company playwriting fellow John Shea, received an October 2009 workshop production at BU, directed by SOT Lecturer Ilana Brownstein. It’s 1974 on Boston’s Bunker Hill, and federal district court judge Arthur Garrity has just handed down an order to begin school busing as a remedy to segregation. Charlestown’s Irish-Catholic community erupts in violent protest, and the turmoil on the streets threatens to infect the lives of everyone on the Hill.
  • Fallujah by BU alumnus Evan Sanderson (CFA ’09) was the School of Theatre’s 2011 KCACTF official entry. Like diventare the year prior, Fallujah was awarded the KCACTF National Student Playwriting Award and featured at both the national KCACTF festival and InCite 2011 in New York City. The play also received the KCACTF Quest for Peace playwriting award. Fallujah tells the story of an American journalist, embedded with a combat unit in Iraq, who becomes captivated by the stories of the people he encounters overseas. He returns home, but his heart cannot abandon the deserts of Baghdad and Basra. Following a powerful encounter with a dead soldier, the journalist is compelled to return to Fallujah on the eve of its destruction. In Fall 2012, Fallujah will receive a European premiere at The Cockpit in London, presented by Liminal Space Productions.
  • Our Lady, by BU alumnus James Fluhr (CFA ’10) and directed by BU alumna Ellie Heyman (CFA ’10),  received a workshop production at the BU Theatre in October 2011 and was the School of Theatre’s 2012 KCACTF official entry.  By exploring one young man’s journey to fully express, accept and be proud of himself, Our Lady honors the many gay teenagers who have turned to suicide in response to unjust societal pressures. A politically charged, passionate and engaging one-man show, Our Lady was subsequently featured in the 2012 New York Fringe Festival.
  • Confines of a Carcass by Edmund Donovan (CFA ’12) received a workshop production in February 2012, directed by Thomas Martin. An investigation into the mind of a man on the brink of utter estrangement from the world around him, this new play follows Angus’s journey of self-discovery and irreversible transformation as he becomes progressively divorced from the world around him, and increasingly attached to a strange new friend.
  • ERIN GO BRAGH-less served as the School of Theatre’s 2013 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival following a run in Boston, October 17-21, 2012. A depiction of the tightly-knit Irish-American community in modern day Somerville, Massachusetts, the characters interconnected struggles are revealed over the course of St. Patrick’s Day weekend as they inflict new wounds and open old ones in this unflinching family portrait by Huntington Playwriting Fellow John Shea.
  • Three Blessed Brothers by CFA alumnus Phillip Berman and Our Girl in Trenton by BU MFA Playwriting alumnus Cliff Odle will be workshopped at the College of Fine Arts in October 2013. The latter will also serve as the College’s 2014 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival official entry.

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