Press Release: ​​The Lab@SCR

South Coast Repertory and Playwrights Horizons Partner to Launch $60,000 New Play Commission

Commission Is the Centerpiece of The Lab@SCR, a Major Investment by South Coast Repertory in New Works for the American Theatre

COSTA MESA, Calif. (​​​Jan. 13, 2020)—Today, South Coast Repertory (SCR; Artistic Director David Ivers; Managing Director Paula Tomei) and Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Tim Sanford, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) announced the creation of the Pinnacle commission, which will award $60,000 to a major American playwright. The commission, whose inaugural recipient will be announced in spring 2020, is part of The Lab@SCR, a new comprehensive play-development infrastructure at SCR that will deepen and expand support for the creation of numerous new works for the American theatre.

“Along with Paula Tomei, I am grateful to Tim Sanford, Adam Greenfield and the entire team at Playwrights Horizons, who generously and instantly agreed to partner with us on this first Pinnacle commission as part of The Lab@SCR,” said SCR Artistic Director David Ivers. The Pinnacle playwright “is an artist of remarkable achievement whose work continues to bolster and challenge our field.”

Playwrights Horizons’ Associate Artistic Director Adam Greenfield lauded the initiative and the partnership.

“Playwrights Horizons is delighted about this new collaboration with our friends at South Coast Repertory,” said Greenfield. “It adds a welcome dimension to our robust Commissions and New Works Lab programs. By joining resources, we're able to build a new work with tremendous care and ambition, beginning with this opportunity to award an unprecedented commission amount. As a native of Orange County myself, who spent my teenage years haunting the classrooms and stages of SCR, this Pinnacle commission marks a particularly sweet homecoming. The team at Playwrights Horizons looks forward to the ride ahead.”

The announcement of The Lab@SCR marks an expansion and deepening of SCR’s already-ambitious and nationally renowned new-play development program. The Lab@SCR includes a commitment to a more rigorous development of new American musicals, commissions for playwrights at various stages of their careers, playwright residencies and additional in-house readings and workshops.

“South Coast Repertory must continuously develop voices for the American theatre,” said Ivers. “Doubling down on all aspects of our existing new-play development programs is essential to our mission. It is a natural progression as we recommit to the vision of our founders, expand how we support playwrights, and get creative about activating our new work, aiming for productions at our theatre and beyond.”

While SCR has commissioned and developed plays and musicals in the past, The Lab@SCR provides more extensive support for the development of musicals.

“A panoply of thrilling writers is continuing to find voice in musical theatre,” said Ivers. “And while musicals serve as a popular entry point for some audiences, they also are among the most expensive to attend. As a regional theatre, we want to provide a gateway to these works, making them accessible to a wide variety of audiences. I’m thrilled that we are committing our resources and energy to developing work inside this uniquely American art form.”

Commissions through The Lab@SCR will provide broadened, deeper support for playwrights, composers and lyricists—in both literary and financial terms—with the theatre continuing to customize the development process for each writer to advance their work.

New commissions given in 2019-20 as part of The Lab@SCR include a musical project from Jane Bruce (singer/songwriter/actor; Elf: The Musical, Jagged Little Pill), a collaboration between playwright Kate Hamill (The Scarlet Letter, SCR world premiere, March 28-April 25, 2020) and composer-performers The Bengsons (The Lucky Ones; Hundred Days), and plays from Kate Cortesi (Love) and Ana Nogueira (Mask Only). SCR’s commitment to emerging writers continues with three commissions awarded to Spenser Davis (Plainclothes), Shayan Lotfi (Park-e Laleh) and Charly Evon Simpson (Behind the Sheet).

The theatre also is currently developing Threshold by Amy Brenneman, Beatrice by Lauren Gunderson, Dory Fantasmagory (a theatre for young audiences play) by John Glore, and Prelude to a Kiss (musical adaptation) with book by Craig Lucas, music by Daniel Messé and lyrics by Sean Hartley.

Since 1983, SCR has awarded 339 commissions to 231 playwrights, composers and lyricists, with more than 50 active commissions. The theatre has produced 155 world premieres; and, since its founding in 1998, the Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF), an annual, national showcase of new work, has presented 141 new plays. Ninety percent of PPF works have gone on to productions at SCR and/or other theatres.

Ivers programmed four world premieres in his first season at the artistic helm of SCR including The Canadians by Adam Bock, The Scarlet Letter by Kate Hamill; I Get Restless by Caroline V. McGraw; and Dory Fantasmagory by John Glore.

More information is available at www.scr.org.


The Lab@SCR

The Lab@SCR is a comprehensive play-development infrastructure that provides resources with which artists can imagine, create and develop new work for SCR and for the American theatre. Below are thumbnail descriptions of the expanded and new initiatives in The Lab@SCR.

  • Pacific Playwrights Festival: This annual, three-day festival showcases the best in new American plays and musicals. Founded in 1998, it serves as a meeting-ground for national theatre professionals and avid local new-play fans. Going forward, it will provide a forum for sharing work emerging from The Lab@SCR and as a means to advance the development of that work. PPF aims to promote co-productions, multiple productions and new opportunities for America’s finest playwrights, and to foster a sense of community among artists and audiences devoted to new American theatre.
  • Musicals: Beginning in 2020, SCR commits to the goal of including one musical or music-theatre piece in each Pacific Playwrights’ Festival and to presenting an evening of “Lab Samples”—excerpts from musicals and plays currently in development in The Lab@SCR.
  • Pinnacle Commissions: On its own, or in partnership with a like-minded theatre, SCR will periodically offer a large, “pinnacle commission” to a major American playwright.
  • Mid-Career Commissions: SCR commissions exceptional mid-career playwrights, offering higher compensation, with an eye toward encouraging their continued contributions to the American theatre in the face of lucrative opportunities in other media.
  • Emerging Commissions: SCR places a special emphasis on investing in early-career playwrights, for whom a commission serves as both financial support—at a time when it’s particularly needed—and a vote of confidence.
  • CrossRoads Commissions: SCR’s CrossRoads Initiative provides commissions to writers, or other generative artists, whom the theatre brings to Orange County for immersive, community-engagement residencies at the beginning of and at key moments in their creative process. CrossRoads promotes a shared sense that new projects are being created for this community, inspired by this community and with the active engagement of people who live in Orange County neighborhoods.
  • NewSCRipts: SCR’s first new-play development program, NewSCRipts was created in 1985 and opened a window on the development process for interested audience members. Under The Lab@SCR, NewSCRipts will continue presenting three public play-readings on Monday nights throughout the season, which provide playwrights and SCR’s artistic staff with a way to test drive a work-in-progress and receive feedback from the audience. In addition, selected readings will be taken on the road for public presentations at local colleges and universities to give writers the benefit of readings in front of demographically different audiences.
  • Lab/Work: These in-house readings and workshops will take place when a writer wants to work with actors and/or other collaborators without having a public audience at the end of the process. The Lab@SCR will provide any manner of in-house reading or workshop, ranging from a one-day table reading to a long-term exploration. By tailoring the collaborative experience to the needs of the individual writer and project, Lab/Work puts the emphasis on process and discovery.
  • Lab Residencies: Sometimes for a creative artist, it’s just about retreating from the demands of everyday life and being given a place and the time to write, away from the usual distractions. SCR playwrights always know they can find that retreat, now funded by The Lab@SCR.

More information is available online: www.scr.org.


ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY:  Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. Of SCR’s 531 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org

ABOUT PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS: Playwrights Horizons is dedicated to cultivating the most important American playwrights, composers, and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Tim Sanford became Artistic Director in 1996 and Leslie Marcus has been Managing Director since 1993. Under their decades of leadership, Playwrights builds upon its diverse and renowned body of work, counting 400 writers among its artistic roster. In addition to its onstage work each season, Playwrights’ singular commitment to nurturing American theater artists guides all of the institution’s multifaceted initiatives: our acclaimed New Works Lab, a robust commissioning program, an innovative curriculum at its Theater School, and more. Robert Moss founded Playwrights in 1971 and cemented the mission that continues to guide the institution today. André Bishop served as Artistic Director from 1981-1992. Don Scardino succeeded him and served until 1996. Over its 48-year history, Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including six Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards, and 40 Obie Awards. www.playwrightshorizons.org