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June 12 - June 18

Kenyon Playwrights Conference

About the Program

Write every day, surrounded by some of the most exciting early-stage play development in the U.S. and U.K. That’s the intensive Kenyon Playwright Conference experience, which includes morning-long seminars led by literary managers and faculty, the space to write in the afternoon and hear your work read in the evenings, and the opportunity to watch three commissioned plays take shape with the creative teams from powerhouse international companies.

To create an extraordinary opportunity for aspiring and working playwrights, the Kenyon Institute has partnered with three companies in commissioning new work. The Atlantic Theater Company is the Tony Award-winning Off-Broadway theatre renowned for its commitment to producing new plays by some of the world’s most significant writers. Royal Exchange Theatre is an internationally recognized incubator for theatre making in Manchester, England, bringing together individual artists, freelance teams, theatre companies, and communities to create work that has been seen in cinemas and toured and transferred nationally. Washington D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth serves an essential ‘Research and Development’ role within the American theatre, and its award-winning plays have gone on to productions at more than 200 theatres in 39 states and 12 countries. The Kenyon Institute is also pleased to welcome the winner of the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, the largest playwriting prize in the U.K., to this year’s conference.

The artistic staff of the guest theatres, along with Institute faculty, will lead small group morning seminars in which you will generate new work and/or reinvestigate a play you have brought to the conference. Afternoons are for writing and revision. In the evenings, you can hear your work in progress read by an ensemble of young Institute actors.

Each of the three professional theatre companies, along with the Kenyon Institute, has commissioned a new play by an established playwright. Each of these resident playwrights offers an afternoon master class where you will learn more about the craft of playwriting and getting your work produced.

Throughout the week, the commissioned plays will be developed in rehearsals and table readings where you will be able to see the new scripts develop. And you will be the first to see these new works onstage, culminating in readings with a professional cast and lively post-show talkbacks with you and your fellow playwrights.

A Typical Day

9:00 am


You will work in small seminar groups on daily writing exercises, presenting readings of your work in class using class members and/or resident student actors.

12:00 pm

Lunch in Peirce Hall.

1:00 pm

Writing time.

Because each day you will be asked to write or rewrite a short scene, you’ll probably want to spend the afternoon writing. This can also be your time to work out at the athletic center or walk or bike on the Kokosing Gap Trail while thinking about your work in progress.

4:00 pm

Master classes (optional).

Hear from some of the nation’s top literary managers about how to get your work read, what happens to a new play in development, and trends in new work. You might have a master class with one of the visiting playwrights or actors. Or the instructors might talk about related fields like acting, directing, or writing for film and television. Wine and cheese receptions follow some events.

5:30 pm

Dinner in Peirce Hall.

Sit down with your fellow playwrights and enjoy a relaxed dinner with your classmates overlooking the magnificent Central Ohio countryside. The Conference has a dedicated private dining room and its own outdoor patio meal space.

7:00 pm

Readings (optional).

Come out to the Open Barn, where you can sign up to have scenes you have written read by our student company for an audience of your colleagues. Later in the week, you’ll be the first to hear plays still in development by one of our three commissioned playwrights. Come out for drinks at the Village Inn, or, if inspired, go home to write!