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. We are among the few theaters in the US that maintain an open submission policy, and writers are supported through every stage of their growth with a series of development programs that comprise our New Works Lab. We present at least 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 is dedicated to cultivating the most important American playwrights, composers, and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Under Artistic Director Tim Sanford and Managing Director Leslie Marcus, 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. Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including six Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards, and 39 Obie Awards. Prior artistic directors include André Bishop and Don Scardino. Robert Moss founded Playwrights Horizons in 1971 and oversaw its first decade, cementing the mission that continues to guide the institution today.