Mission and History

We need plays written by American writers, emerging out of our social fabric, that speak to our national community. We live in a global culture and plays from other countries can speak to us. But other countries can’t speak for us."

—Tim Sanford, Artistic Director


PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS is a writer's theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists, and to the production of their new work.

In a city rich with cultural offerings, Playwrights Horizons' 45-year-old mission is unique; we are the only major theater in New York with this specific mission.  We have distinguished ourselves by the caliber of our work and our steadfast commitment to the voice of the American writer.  It is a mission that is always timely, and it is essential to the future of the American theater. 

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Tim Sanford and Managing Director Leslie Marcus, Playwrights Horizons encourages the new work of veteran writers while nurturing an emerging generation of theater artists. Writers are supported through every stage of their growth with a series of development programs: script and score evaluations, commissions, readings, and musical theater workshops.  We present six productions annually on our two stages, each of which is a World, American or New York premiere.


Almost since its inception in 1971 Playwrights Horizons has been a mainstay of Off Broadway and possesses one of the most distinguished histories among New York’s producers of new work. The list of playwrights discovered or supported by the company over the years is practically a Who’s Who of contemporary drama."

—Charles Isherwood, The New York Times, September 9, 2012 |Read Full Article


Playwrights Horizons has presented over 375 writers and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for “ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work”.

Notable productions include six Pulitzer Prize winners—Annie Baker's The Flick (2014); Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (2012 Tony Award, Best Play); Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play); Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play); Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George; Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play); Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar (two 2012 Obie Awards); Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal—as well as Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn; Bathsheba Doran’s Kin; Adam Bock’s A Small Fire; Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I; Melissa James Gibson’s This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie’s Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards); Craig Lucas’s Prayer for My Enemy and Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play); Adam Rapp’s Kindness; Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone; Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting); Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero; David Greenspan’s She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award); Kirsten Childs’ The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award); Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s James Joyce’s The Dead; Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins; William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland; Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Richard Nelson’s Goodnight Children Everywhere; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Once on This Island; Jon Robin Baitz’ The Substance of Fire; Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room; A.R. Gurney’s Later Life; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins; and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet.

In addition to our artistic programming, we train over 150 undergraduate students through the Playwrights Horizons Theater School, in association with NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and we welcome ten to twelve aspiring theater professionals into our rigorous Theatrical Residency Program. We also provide low-cost, state-of-the-art ticketing services to the Off-Broadway performing arts community through our Ticket Central box office and offer low- cost rehearsal and performance space at 440 Studios, located in lower Manhattan.

Playwrights Horizons was founded in 1971 at the Clark Center Y by Robert Moss, before moving to 42nd Street in 1974 where it has been instrumental in the revitalization of Theater Row.

André Bishop served as Artistic Director from 1981 to 1991, followed by Don Scardino who served through 1995. Tim Sanford was named Artistic Director in 1996.