Reading of Jerry Lieblich's ‘D Deb Debbie Deborah’. Photo of Paul Niebanck, Brooke Bloom, Birgit Huppoch, and director Oliver Butler.

Reading of Jerry Lieblich's ‘D Deb Debbie Deborah’. Photo of Paul Niebanck, Brooke Bloom, Birgit Huppoch, and director Oliver Butler.

Reading of ‘Men on Boats’ by Jaclyn Backhaus

Reading of ‘Men on Boats’ by Jaclyn Backhaus

Reading of ‘God is a Good God’ by Miki Johnson.

Reading of ‘God is a Good God’ by Miki Johnson.

Reading of ‘Iowa’ by Jenny Schwartz

Reading of ‘Iowa’ by Jenny Schwartz


New Works Lab

Playwrights Horizons premieres six new American plays and musicals every season. Beyond the marquee lights and behind the scenes, our Literary Department helps scores of playwrights to develop their voices and their new work at all stages of the writing process through a series of programs collectively known as the New Works Lab.

The Lab’s central purpose is to provide writers with developmental opportunities, affording them the time and space to collaborate on unfinished projects and hear their work aloud.  In permutations ranging from one-day readings to extensive, week-long workshops, each process is structured to meet the needs of the individual playwright and unique project. Readings are closed to the public, allowing the author to evaluate and revise his or her work in a pressure-free environment.

The New Works Lab also encompasses a range of the Literary Department’s ongoing activities that allow them to discover and support new American writers.  Playwrights Horizons is one of the only leading American theaters with an open submission policy, accepting scripts from any playwright—regardless of whether they’re known to us or have been produced on our stages before.  Our staff reviews nearly 1,000 submissions each season (and every submission receives a written response); awards three to five new play commissions each season; and attends readings and productions of new work in New York and throughout the country.

SuperLab is a unique new play development collaboration between Playwrights Horizons and downtown new play powerhouse Clubbed Thumb.  In 2010, noticing a significant overlap in the writers supported by both theaters, Playwrights Horizons Director of New Play Development Adam Greenfield and Clubbed Thumb Producing Artistic Director Maria Striar conceived of a co-curated series of play laboratories to support the creation of bold, risk-taking new works by living American playwrights and bridge the perceived gap between New York’s “uptown” and “downtown” theater sensibilities, methodologies and artist rosters, expanding the range of experience and opportunity for all.  Initially supported by funds granted to Clubbed Thumb by Metlife/Theatre Communications Group’s A-ha! Program, created to foster creative thinking and action among its member theaters, SuperLab has since become a regular part of both theater’s new play development programs, with between 4 and 6 week-long, process-driven play labs each season.  SuperLab readings are noted in the readings lists below.

To read our submission guidelines, click here.  And keep your eye on this page and future bulletins for updates on our ongoing activities.

Read what New Works Lab participants are saying about the program.


2014/15 Readings to date

SuperLab: Better
By Michelle Carter
Directed by Kent Nicholson
April 20–24, 2015

By Taylor Mac
Directed by Niegel Smith
April 13, 2015

The Human Court
By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Davis McCallum
March 31–April 3, 2015

SuperLab: Every Angel is Brutal
By Julia Jarcho
Directed by Carolyn Cantor
March 16–20, 2015

The Light Years
Created by the Debate Society
March 2–18, 2015

I Enter the Valley
By Dipika Guha
Directed by Portia Krieger
February 25–27, 2015

The Storytellers*
By Ann Marie Healy
Directed by Rebecca Taichman
February 13–17, 2015

The Experiment*
By Lisa Kron
Directed by Leigh Silverman
February 4–10, 2015

SuperLab: Daisy
By Chiara Atik
Directed by Stella Powell-Jones
January 26–30, 2015

By Jiehae Park
Directed by Lila Neugebauer
January 14–16, 2015

SuperLab: D Deb Debbie Deborah
By Jerry Lieblich
Directed by Oliver Butler
December 15–19, 2014

Rancho Viejo*
By Dan LeFranc
Directed by Daniel Aukin
December 16 & 19, 2014

The Debate Society writing residency
December 8–12, 2014

Untitled New Play*
By Jenny Schwartz
Directed by Anne Kauffman
December 5–15, 2014

The Writer’s Army
in residence at Playwrights Horizons
December 1–7, 2014

By Zayd Dohrn
Directed by Kip Fagan
November 21, 2014

The Agonist*
By Ethan Lipton
Directed by Anne Kauffman
November 13, 2014 

By Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Daniel Aukin
October 31, 2014

The Storytellers*
By Ann Marie Healy
Directed Rebecca Taichman
October 30, 2014

Antlia Pneumatica*
By Anne Washburn
Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll
October 1–2, 2014 

By Jenny Schwartz
Music and Lyrics by Todd Almond
Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll
September 15–26, 2014

SuperLab: Men On Boats
By Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Will Davis
August 8–12, 2014

The Light Years
Created by The Debate Society
August 18, 2014

*denotes Playwrights Horizons commission


Past readings

2013/14  2012/13  2011/12  2010/11


Lead support for the New Works Lab is generously provided by the Time Warner Foundation.

Support is also provided by the Jerome Foundation, the John Golden Fund, the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation.