Monday, November 25, 2013

Call for Readers and Actors

We're looking for READERS and ACTORS for the upcoming young playwrights festivals at Playwrights Theatre of NJ. Please contact us if you are interested via the following online survey:

Any questions? Send an email to


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rethinking "Write What You Know"

Whenever I log in to the blog for a new post, I like to see which older posts have been viewed and what our "all-time" top entries are. One of our most popular entries is one entitled "Write What You Know", which originally premiered on October 20, 2008 and was re-posted last August 27, 2012. You can link to those entries by clicking the dates, but before you do, I wanted to share something else about the idea of "what you know" that has been brewing in my mind for the past few days.

Students often are told "write what you know", which seems simple enough, but a number of young playwrights in our workshops feel pressured by this advice. Sometimes they want to write about a topic, an event, place, or person that they know very little about. This knowledge can be gained by a little reading and research, of course. However, one thing that I always ask young writers to keep in mind is that, even if it is based in reality, or history, what they are writing is also a piece of fiction. That fiction stems from their imagination (something that we don't often connect with knowledge) and I believe that if you can imagine it, then you know it. An example of this may be with a science-fiction, or fantasy play. That world exists in a writer's mind and the writer needs to know a lot about it and how it works in order to accurately share it with an audience. Again, the advice is "write what you know", but a little less pressure involved.

Not everyone wants to write a sci-fi/fantasy play, of course. No matter what the genre, it is helpful for playwrights to know about themselves - their background, sure, but also things that spark their imaginations and emotions. The older posts that I have linked above include a self-reflection tool that our young playwrights have found useful when first thinking about their plays, or looking for some inspiration during revision. Give it a look and see what ideas might be sparked in you as you begin, or continue, your writing.

We can't wait to see the results...

Happy writing!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Guest lecture at NYU

This evening I'm talking to the Drama in Education class at NYU's Program in Educational Theatre about young playwrights festivals across the United States. There will be plenty of words and images from the NJ Young Playwrights Festival throughout!

Friday, November 15, 2013

An excerpt from About to Pop! by Ben Muzi (2009)

Some inspiration from About to Pop! by Ben Muzi (NJYPF 2009).

About to Pop! follows Andy, a high school senior, whose excitement about the future as expressed through a class project are gravely misinterpreted by the adults in his life. Below is the poem that sparks the controversy that almost derails Andy's plans. He speaks this poem at the end of the play.


Searching for a life.
Discovering & imagining.
Building my concerto.
Keeping on the map.
Free to touch
briefly upon the mosaic.
Ready to go-
Because I am about to pop!
Andy (Jeff Ronan) sharing his poem with the audience at the end of About to Pop! (2009)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Throwback to 1992

Our Throwback Thursday picture... a few days later. This one is from the NJ Young Playwrights Festival in 1992.
From L to R: John Pietrowski, Artistic Director for PTNJ; Bethany (Schultz) Larsen; Joel R. Johnson; Dailyn Rodriguez; Jasmine (Suwa) Slowik; Jim Peskin, 1992 Festival Producer.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Get going!

Originally posted on the blog: July 17, 2012.

You may not be a wrestling fan, but the phrase is probably familiar to you: “Let’s get ready to rumbllllllllllllllllle!” Today we’re just a little under six months until the submission deadline for the 2014 New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival and its time to get writing. Specific dates and details about the 31st anniversary installment of the Festival will be posted in the coming months, but for now the best thing to do if you’re thinking about submitting a play is to get started!

There may be some of you who have an idea and are ready to dive right in, but there are others of you who may be struggling to get started. Maybe you have a lot of ideas and don’t know which to choose. Or maybe the opposite is true and you just can’t think of a thing. These are common blocks that affect every writer at some point in time. The important thing when you are struggling is to pick something and start writing. You don’t necessarily need to start with the play itself – just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and let the ideas flow.

No matter where you are with an idea it may help to jot down a few ideas in a list, or an outline, or a synopsis. What are you interested in? What ideas come to mind when you think about a story? What kinds of plays do you like to see – OR – what kinds of stories do you like to read? Do you have an idea for a plot, or a character? (or both?) What do you want to say about the world, or to the world? What is important to you? Whatever you have in mind, wherever your brain takes you, get those ideas down on paper and see what happens. Before long you may find that you are developing an idea for a play that you feel passionate about – something that moves you deeply.

Over the next few months, I will share some ideas for writing your play from beginning to end. I hope that some of these suggestions will be helpful to you as you write, but please know that not everything that is mentioned here may work for you. There is more than one way to write a play and it is important that you figure out what works for you and what works for the story that you want to tell. I encourage you to share your ideas and your progress by commenting on the posts as we go. I can also be reached at if you have any comments that you don’t want to share publicly, or to answer any questions that you might have.

I look forward to getting started with you and to seeing the finished pieces in January.

Happy writing!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NJ Emerging Women Playwrights Project

Recently, Playwrights Theatre of NJ launched the NJ Emerging Women Playwrights Project "to provide meaningful support" to playwrights through a long-term commitment that emphasizes the needs of the individual writers in the development of their work. The pilot season was staged in 2011-2012 with Lia Romeo, Carrie Louise Nutt, Dominique Cieri, and Dania Ramos as the playwrights-in-residence. For the current season, PTNJ will develop new works by EM Lewis, Claire Porter, and Yasmine Rana.

For general information about the NJ Emerging Women Playwrights Project visit the website at this link.

For regular updates about the program, visit the new blog at this link.