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Commissioning New Plays

Among the more than 80 world premieres produced since the Playhouse’s founding in 1960 are plays that have been commissioned. Since 2006, this work to develop new stories and contribute to the American theatre canon has expanded thanks to the Jerome Fey Endowment for New Plays. The funding provided not only pays a playwright to write a new play, it also allows for the readings, workshops and script development necessary to prepare it for full production. Then, the commissions are brought to life as world premieres with support from The Rosenthal Family Foundation and The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Many of these plays have gone on to numerous subsequent productions around the country.

“When you have the resources to invest in new playwrights and new stories – and we do – then doing productions like this becomes your responsibility to the art form,” said Producing Artistic Director Blake Robison to the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2018.

Read more in our blog article, New Play Commissions Guide an Eventual Return to the Theatre.

Native Gardens
John Lescault, Sabina Zuniga Varela, Gabriel Ruiz and Karen Ziemba in the world premiere of Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Recipients of the Jerome Fey Endowment for New Plays are noted with an asterisk* in the lists below.


Currently Commissioned Playwrights:

*Nathan Alan Davis


*Theresa Rebeck

The Scarlet Letter

*Karen Zacarías


Richard Crandle in the world premiere of Cincinnati King by KJ Sanchez. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.
LaTonya Borsay (Grace) and Shanelle Leonard (Chloe) in The West End. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.
Tarah Flanagan as Emery Harris in Rooted. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

Past Commissioned Playwrights:

*Deborah Zoe Laufer (2022) — Rooted
KJ Sanchez (2021) — Need Your Love
*Keith Josef Adkins (2021) —The West End
10 Cincinnati Playwrights (2020) – Monologues of Hope
*Universes — americUS (2019)
*Deborah Zoe Laufer (2015) — Be Here Now
KJ Sanchez (2013) — Cincinnati King
*Karen Zacarías (2012) — Native Gardens
Sarah Ruhl (2009) — Three Sisters – new version of Chekov’s play
*Carson Kreitzer (2008) — Behind the Eye
*Theresa Rebeck (2008) — Dead Accounts
*Michele Lowe (2008) — Victoria Musica
*Kia Corthron (2007) — Poetic Pandemic (not produced)
Anthony Clarvoe (1996) – Ghosts – new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play
Anthony Clarvoe (1995) – The Brothers Karamazov
Karolyn Nelke (1987) – Sister Carrie (not produced)
Granville Burgess (1986) – Dusky Sally (not produced)


Past Commissioned Revues:

The Second City (2012) — The Second City 2: Less Pride ... More Pork
The Second City (2010) — The Second City Does Cincinnati: Pride and Porkopolis


About the Jerome Fey Endowment for New Plays

Jerome Fey grew up in Cincinnati in the 1960s, attending and volunteering at the Playhouse in its early days. As an adult he moved to Los Angeles and pursued a career in playwriting, penning Oxford's Will, Blind Faith, and other scripts. He founded the Golden West Playwrights' Workshop, taught at UCLA, and served as literary manager of Colony Studio Theatre. Before his death, he arranged for a gift from his estate to allow the Playhouse to commission plays through the Jerome Fey Endowment for New Plays.


Commissions of Theatre for Young Audiences

The Playhouse has also commissioned playwrights to write plays for young audiences presented through our Education and Outreach Tours. From 1999-2013, Macy’s sponsored these commissions (noted with an * below). Many of these plays have been subsequently published for productions as noted with a + following the title.


Allyson Currin (2015) – High School Alien
John Yearley (2016) – Antigone
Cheri Magid (2015) – Sherwood’s Forrest (not produced)
Darrah Cloud (2014) – Joan the Girl of Arc
*John Yearley (2013) – Fake Flowers Don’t Die
*Lynn Rosen (2012) – Tough as Texas (not produced)
*Darrah Cloud (2011) – What’s Buggin’ Greg? +
*Arlene Hutton (2010) – Happy Worst Day Ever +
*Ken LaZebnik (2009) – Theory of Mind +
*Melissa Cooper (2008) – Little Medea
*David Gonzalez (2007) – Mariel
*Cherie Bennett (2006) – Reviving Ophelia +
*Jose Cruz Gonzalez (2005) – Thaddeus and ‘Tila +
David Gonzalez (2004) – Finding North
*Cherie Bennett (2004) – Life in the Fat Lane +
*Glyn O’Malley (2002) – Paradise (not produced)
*Doug Cooney (2002) – My Journey to Here and Now
*Bernardo Solano (2001) – Face to Face
*Elizabeth Wong (2000) – Boid & Oskar +

Robert Carlton Stimmel, Serena Ryen, Renika Williams, Law Dunford in Antigone by John Yearley, Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.
Rico Reid, Shayna Schmidt, Chelsea D. Harrison, Jon Kovach and Justin Weaks in Joan the Girl of Arc by Darrah Cloud, Photo by Tony Arrasmith/Arrasmith & Associates.
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