Where will the next stage production like The Lion King come from, and who will adapt the next great young adult novel into a play?
A likely source: New Plays for Young Audiences, a series devoted to the development of new plays for children, youth, and families written by both NYU students and noted playwrights from around the world.
“Plays for young audiences uniquely consider the child at various stages of their development with stories that are not only entertaining, but address relevant topics with profound artistry. As such, it is important to cultivate new plays that fuel critical thinking and understanding,” said David Montgomery, director of the Program in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt and artistic director of the New Play for Young Audiences series. “These plays are also important for nurturing an appreciation of theatre and creating lifelong theatregoers.”
Each summer, New Plays for Young Audiences selects three playwrights to develop new age-appropriate plays, offering students and theatre professionals the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and methods of theatre. The plays go on to receive national recognition, publication, and production throughout the world.
For instance, celebrated writer Lois Lowry, author of Number the Stars and The Giver, adapted her 2006 book Gossamer into a play during the 2008 season. Gossamer has since been performed in Chicago and Portland, Oregon, and spurred a New Plays for Young Audiences symposium about adapting the young adult novel for the stage, in which Lowry took part.
Now in its 20th anniversary season, New Plays for Young Audiences is staging rehearsed readings of three new plays, including a musical about a family in the Dust Bowl hoping for rain and a story of friendships in a railroad camp a decade or so after the American Civil War. The readings — which are taking place weekends from June 10 through 25 at the historic Provincetown Playhouse — are free and open to the public.
Laurie Brooks, one of the three playwrights featured in this year’s series, has been named the winner of the 2017 Swortzell Innovator Award for outstanding and sustained service to the field of Theatre for Young Audience. Brooks’ new play, Now Comes the Dust: A Heartland Music, will be staged June 23 and 24. Brooks will also be part of a 20th anniversary roundtable event and panel discussion to explore emergent directions in writing and producing works.