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The Playwrights Foundation

Founded in 1976 by Robert Woodruff, the Playwrights Foundation is now recognized as one of the top six new play development centers in the country, and the only one of its scope on the West Coast, serving writers at all levels of career placement and artistic maturity. Through our programs we actively nurture and support exceptional contemporary playwrights at every stage of a play's development and help them forge connections to producers. Our mandate is to offer a full range of programs that provide multiple points of entry for a diverse range of playwrights--at a low cost or free of charge--so they can readily access our services; take advantage of our expertise, resources, and connections across the nation; and learn from their artistic peers.

For three decades we have discovered and supported over 300 writers who have gone on to infuse the American theater with vitality, innovation and relevance. Our award-winning alumni, first discovered early in their careers, include Sam Shepard, Philip Kan Gotanda, Amy Freed, Anne Galjour, Octavio Solis, John O’Keefe, Mac Wellman, Brighde Mullins, Bill Irwin, Migdalia Cruz, Anna Deaveare Smith, Paula Vogel, Maria Irene Fornes, David Henry Hwang, Naomi Iizuka, Brian Thorstenson, Claire Chafee, Prince Gomolvilas, Liz Duffy Adams, Christine Evans, Marcus Gardley, Sheila Callaghan, and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, among many others.


Playwrights Foundation is dedicated to discovering and supporting local and national American playwrights across a broad spectrum of artistic and career positions, in the inception and development of new plays that speak to and from an increasingly diverse society. Founded on a deeply held belief that the relevance and vitality of American theater depends upon a continual infusion of new work, Playwrights Foundation sustains a commitment to the playwright, who we regard as the creative wellspring of theater.


In 1976, the Playwrights Foundation (PF) initiated the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF), which remains our cornerstone program, to create a venue for young, vanguard playwrights and their collaborators to experiment with new ideas, develop and nurture creative collaborative relationships, and push the boundaries of the form. As one of the first new play festivals in the US and sustained for over 30 years, the BAPF is a hothouse for new work, with indispensable creative development opportunities offered to over 300 contemporary playwrights to date.

Since 2004, PF has also offered year-round programs for playwrights at all levels of career and artistic development, from students to established professionals. These programs include an eight-week first draft series, producing partnerships and commissions with local and national producers, a resident playwright initiative, a studio incubator series, and a school for playwriting, the New Play Institute.

In 2004 Playwrights Foundation won the Will Glickman Award for its co-production of Dog Act by Liz Duffy Adams with Shotgun Players and a Steinberg nomination for its co-production of One Big Lie, also by Adams, in partnership with Crowded Fire Theater. Alumni of PF programs have gone on to win every major award in the theater world, including the Tony, the Obie, the Whiting, the Steinberg, Princess Grace, and the Pulitzer Prize.