NYU’s New Plays for Young Audience (NPYA) celebrates its 25th season of nurturing new voices and theatrical styles with free readings of three new works. This year’s line-up explores young love and cultural traditions and continues the program’s legacy of identifying new and diverse voices and nurturing new works for young audiences.
Since its founding in 1998, NPYA has supported award-winning plays and playwrights, including Laurie Brooks (Deadly Weapons ,The Wrestling Season), Finegan Kruckemeyer (Zachary Briddling Who Was Awfully Middling), and Susan Soon He Stanton (Kilo Hoku). In addition, Oscar winner Kevin Willmott (co-writer of BlacKkKlansman) worked with NPYA on The Watsons Go to Birmingham (adapted from the book by Christopher Paul Curtis) and Becoming Martin. Many of the 52 playwrights who have participated in the program have won prestigious awards, including multiple Distinguished Play of the Year honors from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.
The 25th season’s rehearsed readings are presented at the Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal St. General admission tickets are free and available at the box office, which opens one hour before each reading.
The 2023 program opens with ZEQ, a play with music that will be performed June 10 at 7 p.m. and June 11 at 2 p.m. Written by playwright and NYU alum Ramon Esquivel, ZEQ is a love story about and for queer youth that is targeted to ages 13-18. Directed by Rudy Ramirez, the play chronicles the struggles of Ezequiel “ZEQ” Zapata, who is unhappy to be spending their 17th birthday working at the burger joint in their rural town. When a bus of choir kids arrives, ZEQ encounters Danilo, and the chance meeting raises questions about what happens when dreams meet reality and how to navigate a budding romance.
The Witch of Boggy Depot by Alan Kilpatrick is presented June 17 at 7 p.m. and June 18 at 2 p.m. Directed by Jake Hart, the play is a comic fantasy about a Choctaw elder who recounts a hair-raising event from her childhood in Oklahoma. Featuring a witch and a medicine show barker named Dr. Quack, the play is best for ages 11-15.
The third and final offering is The Dream Pillow by Amanda L. Andrei, a work best suited for audiences ages 4-8. On four-year-old Palmie’s birthday, her mother attempts to connect her daughter to her late Filipina mother with the gift of an herbal dream pillow. Palmie meets the child version of her grandmother in the dream world, and she needs her help when she loses her dream pillow. Gaven D. Trinidad directs the reading, which will be performed June 24 at 3 and 7 p.m. The 3 p.m. reading will be a relaxed performance for neurodivergent audience members.
NPYA was created in 1998 by Lowell and Nancy Swortzell to nurture and evaluate young audience scripts. The university’s Program in Educational Theatre runs a graduate course at the same time, allowing students to learn theories and methods of play development in a laboratory setting.
“The Swortzells' vision for the program has not changed much over the years. It places the playwright at the center of the development work where the actors, director, dramaturg, students and producer support their needs throughout the rehearsal process. This model has positively impacted hundreds of actors, directors and playwrights in the TYA field, and most importantly, the young audiences for whom the work is intended,” said David Montgomery, professor and program director of Educational Theatre at Steinhardt who took over as artistic director of NPYA in 2008.
The NPYA summer program also hosts an online mentorship program from Artistic Director Tammie Swopes. “Seeing Our Stories on Stage: Amplifying Global Majority Voices in TYA” is designed to provide support for BIPOC playwrights and stories. In addition to mentorship, the selected scripts will have an online unrehearsed reading in September.
New Plays for Young Audiences is supported by The Nancy and Lowell Swortzell Permanent Fund in Educational Theatre and with thanks to NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.
About NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
Founded in 1925, the department offers a supportive environment in which to explore disciplined and interdisciplinary endeavors in Music Performance, Composition, Music Business, Arts Administration, Music Technology, Music Therapy, Drama Therapy, and the Arts in Education (Educational Theatre, Music, and Dance). Together, students and faculty engage in professional, scholarly, and artistic practices that capture international attention and serve as models for progress.