The longrunning, annual developmental program, which has helped launch the careers of notable playwrights including August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein and John Guare, has selected a total of eight new scripts to be showcased this summer in public readings that cap off a week of development for each play. “Lightning,” the latest by “Crimes of the Heart” playwright Henley, is on a list that also includes Jeremy O. Harris’ “Slave Play,” already set for a fall run at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop, and Cori Thomas’ “Lockdown,” scheduled to bow at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in spring 2019.
The conference’s two writers-in-residence, meanwhile, are tapped to spend time at the O’Neill campus in Waterford, Conn., developing their own new works. Rogers won the best play Tony Award last year for “Oslo,” while DeLappe comes to the O’Neill after her first play, “The Wolves,” proved one of the biggest Off Broadway breakouts of the last couple of seasons.
The eight new plays on the conference’s 2018 lineup are:
- “Lightning,” Henley’s story of a woman in a mountain cabin who’s visited by a travelling salesman as a storm approaches;
- Benjamin Benne’s “#nowall,” set on Dec. 2, 2016, as Trump’s election throws the dreams of one undocumented mother for her daughter into flux;
- “Lockdown,” Thomas’ play about a prison inmate and a writer working together on a statement for the inmate’s upcoming parole hearing;
- “Ruth,” the story of a woman trying to start a new life in New York, by Enid Graham;
- Celine Song’s “Endlings,” centering on Korea’s last three “sea women,” who use traditional free-diving methods to harvest seafood;
- “The Forest,” Lia Romeo’s surreal story about a woman, her mother and the forest that starts to grow in their living room;
- Harris’ “Slave Play,” set on a plantation in the South and described as an “antebellum fever-dream”; and
- “Marvel-ous Monica; In Which Monica Lewinsky is a Superhero Hell-Bent on Revenge,” Sarah Tuft’s comedy about the superhero fantasy that distracts Monica Lewinsky as she prepares for her TED talk.
The playwrights conference is one of several development programs hosted every summer at the O’Neill, which also presents a music theater conference (where shows like “Avenue Q” and “In the Heights” got started), a puppetry conference, a cabaret conference and a critics institute.
The 2018 National Playwrights Conference runs July 5-28.