Carving your path as a new playwright can be overwhelming no matter where you live, but I have found it can be particularly overwhelming in New York City. There are multitudes of opportunities to present your work, and determining which one is the best fit can be a daunting task.
Upon completing the script for Mrs. Schrodinger’s Cat and hosting some informal table-reads at my apartment, I toiled with what my next step would be. I wanted it to be something that would really help my play to grow. I had worked on the script for almost two years, and I felt it deserved a little TLC getting on its feet for the first time. I wanted a safe and nurturing space for the play to take its first steps. A festival with ultra-tight transitions between shows and heavy restrictions on design components didn’t feel like the right place for that to happen. My play had never been performed before, and to try to fit it into such a regimented scheme would be limiting to the process of development I was seeking. Simply put, my young play just wasn’t ready for something like that yet. Thus, I was thrilled to discover Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Play Development Series.
To begin with, Ken Wolf and his staff were by my side every step of the way, encouraging me and providing solutions from the get-go to the challenges my play presented. From technical suggestions to script consultations, I felt that they were members of my team and that the actual development of my play was their top priority. And Ken was beyond accommodating—any question or need I had was always addressed quickly and with care.
In addition, Manhattan Rep’s location amongst the big theatres on 42nd Street was a source of pride for me as I invited friends and family to come to my show, and the cleanliness of the theatre itself meant I never had to give any disclaimers to anyone before they arrived.
On the nights of our performances, a full staff took care of tickets, programs, and ushering, so my team and I could concentrate solely on our show with a sense of relaxation. At the end of each performance, we were even able to have a meet-and-greet in the theatre with our audience. No one was rushing us out for the next group to come in and set up (as there was no “next group”), so we really felt that the space was ours and that our event was special.
Without a doubt, I would highly recommend Manhattan Rep to any new playwright or writer developing a new work. Your play will be supported, developed, and promoted by people who know what it’s like to be a playwright in NYC. I could not be happier with my experience in the Spring Play Development Series and would do it again ten times over! Many, many thanks to Ken Wolf and everyone at Manhattan Rep for such a rewarding experience!
Tasha Partee - Playwright/Director/Producer - Mrs. Schrodinger's Cat
When my play "Encanta" was selected for Manhattan Rep's Premiere Play Development Program, I pretty much only expected free performance space and not much help beyond that. The reality was wonderfully different. With less than 6 weeks to go from casting the play and hiring crew, I managed to put together a production that fully realized my vision for the play and did some things that I hadn't expected but that were absolutely wonderful. Ken was present for everything--and I do mean everything--that I had questions about or help with. Without his patience and guidance, I would have made some expensive and embarrassing mistakes for my show. And when my show went up, he was there in the audience laughing and cheering like all the other people who had come to see the show. Having someone on the staff who is as excited about your show as you are means a lot, and it takes so much of the stress out of the production process. It made putting on a play what it should be: memorable, exciting, and fun.
Shawn C. Harris - Playwright/Producer - ENCANTA
"Our team for TYBALT & MERCUTIO LIVE! was very proud to be working at MRT, and it proved to be a wonderful experience. MRT is well organized, welcoming and helpful. The Guidelines document was well written and answered most all of our questions, and seeing the space, so well kept and attractive and located, clearly stated that we had found a wonderful place to work.
Our performances were all great experiences--imagine Saturday night in New York, with crowds of people unknown to us in the streets, and six floors up, we sit in a quiet room and see a writer's characters come to life in all their detail and humanity--this is the very reason and essence of theatre, and why it is so special in New York.
Sean O'Casey, the great Irish playwright, once came to Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania, and shouted "Long Live Hedgerow Theatre in the hedgerows of Pennsylvania!" We are not Sean O'Casey, but we repeat his famous line--Long Live Manhattan Repertory Theatre on 42nd Street in New York! "
Walt Vail - Playwright/Producer "Tybalt and Mercutio Live!
The experience at The Manhattan Repertory Theatre was brilliant! I wrote a play 23 years ago and I always dreamed that I would one day see it produced. The play depicts the voice of a dead mother who cannot cross over to the 'other side' because she cannot find the remains of her son who was killed in Vietnam. The fact that our country has been at war for the past thirteen years ignited my desire to get an anti-war message out there and so I exhumed the play, revised it and sent it to Ken Wolf. Ken accepted it and he was an absolute gem to work with. His theater triggers a writer and director's imagination. It also sets boundaries for performers so that they are forced to invite the audience in their world without any hesitation. They are nearly naked in front of the them, and because of it, they are raw and passionate and vitally honest. I have gone to theater my whole life, but this experience had my signature on it from the beginning until the end. If you are a playwright and you want to explore your craft... Manhattan Repertory Theatre is the place for you. It is for the artists who have steady nerves, a lot of courage and a thirst to get better. I cannot say enough about Ken Wolf and his staff. They were like family and I hope to continue to work with all of them.
Dolores Edward - Playwright/Producer
Manhattan Repertory Theatre prides itself on being a welcoming and nurturing space for independent artists, playwrights and actors alike. I was more than pleased with their professionalism, their experience, their graciousness, and their warmth during my time there.
I hope to continue our relationship in the future.
- The space; intimate and cozy
- The simple tech work so that anyone can learn
- The smooth transitions from one show to the next
- The use of space for multiple productions, i.e. the dressing area
- The flexibility with start time for shows
- The location
- The supportive staff
- Excellent and efficient communication
Tremaine A. Price - Playwright/Producer
What a whirlwind experience it has been for me and Double "I" at Manhattan Rep. I feel I've learned and grown so much. I can't thank you enough for choosing my play for your Fall Play Development program and working with me so diligently and kindly in the development process. Double "I" was so enthusiastically received I see this production as a giant step forward in my playwriting life. So once again many thanks for your incomparable assistance.
Elizabeth Fein - Playwright/Producer
"The flow of creativity at Manhattan Rep is truly amazing. Artistic Director Ken Wolf has tapped into a vortex...From page to stage, actor to audience - we all had a very inspiring experience. It's a magical space."
Coni Ciongoli Koepfinger (2014) Playwright/Producer
Thank you deeply for your help, expertise, kindness and generosity over the past few weeks. In the end your amazing theatre provided a comfortable, safe and dynamic environment to explore and create. Your attitude towards the work and towards me was always so wonderful and kind and I can't thank you enough for that. Thank you for providing everything that you do, and thank you for believing in the arts and making it all happen. The arts world exists because of the drive and passion of people like you.
Manhattan Repertory Theatre is a testament to all your hard work. Thank you for everything.
Austin Farwell - Producer/Playwright/Actor
THE LONG RIDE HOME
I recently directed a production of my drama, "No One Is", at MRT. It was not my first play to be produced, but it was my first directing experience. Ken and the rest of the staff at MRT were amazing: knowledgeable, helpful and supportive. It was a pleasure to work with them. Ken provided assistance, advice and suggestions on a variety of subjects, including casting, props and rehearsal space. The theater is immaculate and well-organized, and the logistics are managed with consummate professionalism. To top it off, Ken is a great guy and a superb conversationalist. I learned a huge amount from the experience and hope to direct more productions - of my work and that of other playwrights. I recommend MRT without reservation.
Geoffrey Craig - Playwright and Director - NO ONE IS
"My experience at Manhattan Repertory Theatre has been extraordinary. Because of Ken Wolf’s unwavering support, I was able to transform my solo show into a richly layered, multi-character ensemble piece. Ken fearlessly encourages each playwright to fully engage in their work – from producing to writing to directing to performing, but he is also there every step of the way, tirelessly responding to each question, giving vital advice. Although this was an incredibly challenging undertaking, I’d remind myself of Ken’s words to me: “think of each hardship as a gift.” His open-minded approach taught me to value each challenge as an integral part of the artistic process, as part and parcel of the organic evolution of what it means to truly develop a play. I am deeply grateful to both Ken Wolf and Jennifer Pierro for their unique vision and devotion to emerging playwrights."
Anna Fishbeyn - Actor/Playwright/Producer
SEX IN MOMMYVILLE
The People in my Hips by Ken Wolf
I highly recommend Manhattan Rep to any artist or company looking to develop their craft in their wonderfully clean, welcoming and intimate space. The process of working at Manhattan Rep is seemless and rewarding. The staff is always available for guidance and support and you will leave knowing that your team and your work were treated with the uptmost respect and care.
John Rotondo - Playwright/Producer
"Producing work at Manhattan Rep is always a pleasure. Ken and Jen are extremely professional, easy to deal with, and flexible--and most importantly of all, they are good, kind people who genuinely enjoy providing a forum for playwrights to do their work. I hope to come back frequently."
Jonathan Wallace, Playwright/Producer - SUPERBUG
"Thank you so much for having A BROOKLYN LOVE STORY at Manhattan Rep these last four months - it has truly been wonderful and fantastic.
Your little gem of a theatre lights up Times Square!
Chiara Montalto - Playwright/Producer -
A BROOKLYN LOVE STORY
"Manhattan Rep runs the most well-organized competition I have ever experienced in New York. They are fair to the playwrights who join them, and celebrate good theater with great enthusiasm. The caliber of work that Manhattan Rep attracts is very high. I would encourage all good playwrights to give this competition a try."
Chip Bolcik - Playwright/Producer -
IN THE THIRD PERSON
WINNER OF THE $1000 cash prize
SPRING ONE ACT COMPETITION 2013
“Every once in a while, something that seems too good to be true actually IS true. Working with the Manhattan Repertory Theatre was effortless and uncomplicated. Their constant support from the moment our play was chosen was amazing - we always felt like we were their highest priority- which is incredible given the large amount of artists they're constantly working with. In addition to the great team of people at MRT, we were given a lovely, intimate, functional space in the heart of the theater district to showcase our work. Manhattan Repertory Theatre is a diamond in the rough - a group of professional artists truly supporting other artists. Being a part of their play festival has been a dream and a blessing.”
Michael DiFrancisco, Producer/Director -
“Manhattan Rep was the first professional venue that has ever mounted one of my plays, and I cannot overstate how wonderful and easy the process of putting on a show with them has been. I recommend them to any and every artist looking to make it happen in the theater.”
Anthony Smith - Producer/Playwright/Actor - THE BUG COLLECTOR
What a wonderful and fulfilling experience it was to be able to bring our play to the stage at Manhattan Repertory Theatre. During their busy Summerfest theatre festival, Ken Wolf and his staff helped us to run our production in the easiest and smoothest way possible.
Problems happen during the life of a play, as we all know. Two days before our last sold out performance, our assigned sound and light operator had to run to the bedside of a dear family member who was in critical condition. She very professionally found us a replacement and MRT quickly moved their schedule around, making it possible for us to have an additional tech rehearsal the day before the performance. What an amazing sign of support! Professionalism doesn’t need kindness to operate. I found that at MRT, kindness turned professionalism into a more effective tool. Every step of the way, we felt like we were dealing with friends who would never abandon you when you need them.
Our play turned out to be very successful. Every performance sold out and we were given an additional one which also sold out. Many factors contributed to the success of our show and one of those was the atmosphere at MRT. Thank you to Ken Wolf & Jen Pierro, who have managed to create a space full of love for theater on super busy 42nd Street. Manhattan Repertory Theatre is absolutely one of Manhattan’s hearts, offering unmatched support to new and seasoned artists who want to create original work for the stage. Bravo MRT!
Franco Moschetti – Playwright/Director
WHEN YELLOW WERE THE STARS ON EARTH
“Although I have produced and directed films, The Hail Mary Pass was my first play and I had a lot of questions, especially since I live out of state. Ken Wolf at Manhattan Repertory Theatre patiently answered every one and made the process as easy as possible for me and my team. With so many productions moving in and out of the theater during a festival, it would be understandable if the place got a little messy and the scheduling got a little chaotic--but that never happened. MRT is run incredibly well and all of the participants I encountered were considerate of each other and of the theater. The audience loved the intimate atmosphere and stadium seating, and I hope to return someday with a new play.”
Patrice Hamilton - Playwright/Producer
THE HAIL MARY PASS
"We had a wonderful production - all thanks to you. You made what could have been a stressful production into a professional and polished showcase in a NewYork location that simply cannot be beat. Most festivals are zoos, but this one was fun and easy because of your professional and calm guidance. From the very beginning you helped accommodate our schedules (I had out of town relatives who were able to see the Sunday performance) and we were able to have three industry professionals see our play. Everything was very well organized and your theatre is a wonderful space to work in. This production was a great experience. It helped me improve the work and identify certain production issues to further improve upon next time. I am so very proud to be able to boast that American Lullaby made its world premiere at Manhattan Repertory Theatre."
Cassandra Lewis - Playwright/Producer