The 16-day-long writers' retreat is revived for its 19th season in New Harmony, IN, in southwestern Indiana, and is not related to the resident professional summer theatre there, The New Harmony Theatre.
The NHP conference's administration, helmed by project director Joel Grynheim, is based in Indianapolis. When in New Harmony, the participating artists are housed and work out of the New Harmony Inn.
The 2005 scripts in full development by NHP are The Roof, a play by Suzanne Bradbeer; Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven, a play by Russell Davis; Little Heart , a play by Irene O'Garden; and "Whynot," a screenplay by Susan Batten.
Directors are Eric Nightengale (Little Heart), Risa Brainin (The Roof) and Daniel Jenkins (Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven). The screenplay will have a story editor, Angelo Pizzo.
The scripts in full development get a director, dramaturg, student stage manager and actors who are both Equity and student performers, from the nearby University of Evansville. NHP was founded in 1986 by three graduates of the university. "There are 12 days of rehearsal and it's not staged — it's music stands, presentational style," Grynheim said of the readings. The final readings are June 3-4. They are open and free of charge to the general public.
There is a communal atmosphere at the NHP conference: Meals are taken together, and on the first Monday and Tuesday the plays are read cold "and everyone is invited and expected at the readings," Grynheim said.
"It's very important that we are together," he added, confirming that friendships and collaborations have resulted from mealtime conversation and fellowship.
In addition to developing four scripts leading to the modest casual readings, New Harmony Project invites additional writers to come work on their new pieces, and to present whatever they wish.
Writers in residence in 2005 are Ludmilla Bollow, Vincent Delaney, Laura Harrington, Arlene Hutton, Jim Leonard, Anne Nelson and Theresa Rebeck.
Grynheim told Playbill.com that NHP is a not-for-profit organization devoted to writers. The goal has never been to produce, but to create an environment free of commercial restraints where writers can learn more about their dawning works — and rewrite and refine. Producers are not invited to visit, but that doesn't mean they haven't occasionally shown up in the past.
Over 130 scripts have been developed at NHP during the past 19 years, and many have gone on to productions Off-Broadway and in regional theatres nationwide. A partial list of national productions includes Heather McDonald's An Almost Holy Picture (Roundabout Theatre Co.), Jenny Laird's Sky Girls (South Coast Repertory Theatre, San Diego) and Warren Leight's Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine (Mark Taper Forum).
Some Indiana productions include Daisy Foote's God's Pictures (Indiana Repertory Theatre), Margaret Dulaney's The View From Here (University of Evansville Theatre) and Mark St. Germain and Randy Courts' Joseph and Mary (Edyvean Theatre) and The Book of the Dun Cow (Valparaiso Theatre), based on the novel by Indiana native, Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Among the many past writers that have attended the NHP are Tony Award-winner Warren Leight, Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan, Academy Award-nominee Robert Anderson and Indiana native Angelo Pizzo.
The New Harmony Project was established "to serve writers and scripts that celebrate the human spirit."
For more information, visit www.newharmonyproject.org.