Variety reports that the aborning O'Neill Stages program will commission established and emerging playwrights to pen hour-long plays that will focus on teen life. Beginning this fall, the O'Neill will develop roughly six new works in collaboration with the playwrights and students from the National Theater Institute in the aims of having the works ready for licensing and publication by Samuel French for high school performances in the 2010-2011 academic year.
"It has long been a goal of the O'Neill's leadership to further unite the educational efforts here with the professional summer conferences. The O'Neill Stages program represents a realization of this goal — and allows the O'Neill to further support artists while enhancing the American canon with new stories for the next generation of theatergoers," said National Playwrights Conference artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg in a statement.
Goldberg and National Theater Institute artistic director Jeff Janisheski will serve as advisors to O'Neill Stages, which will hire a program director in the coming months.
While O'Neill Stages will solely focus on straight plays in the first years, Goldberg told Playbill.com that there is a desire for the program to look at creating teen-themed musicals in the future.
O'Neill Stages is akin to London's National Theatre New Connections Program that has enlisted playwrights including Abi Morgan, Mark Ravenhill, Alan Ayckbourn, Peter Tabern, Nigel Williams and Nicholas Wright to pen youth-minded works that are then presented in schools and in partnership with regional theatres across the U.K. The O'Neill Center has also announced that it is embarking on a $18-$20 million campaign to enhance and establish new programming (including a musical theatre program at the National Theater Institute), as well as new housing and a proscenium theatre on the O'Neill campus.
In 2005 Goldberg became the first woman to lead the O'Neill Conference as artistic director. She previously served as the artistic associate of Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage. She has extended her tenure with the Connecticut company through 2010, and will stage Master Class for the Paper Mill Playhouse and The Crowd You're in With at the Goodman Theatre in the coming season.