The National New Play Network was founded in 1998 by David Goldman, who was then serving as Special Programs Director of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, and the Center’s Founder and Chairman George C. White. They convened a group of artistic and managing leaders from theaters that had demonstrated a proven commitment to the development and production of new plays and 13 founding NNPN Members quickly began sharing the work of the artists they and their audiences loved.
NNPN added the National Showcase of New Plays in 2002, and in 2003 the Continued Life for New Plays Fund was created to help support the exchange of those new works. Other programs developed as NNPN’s membership grew, including commissions, paid residencies for playwrights and producers, and a joint project with the Kennedy Center and the Stanford Center for New Plays to workshop new plays by writers at the MFA level.
By its 10th anniversary, the Network had earned support from major foundations, become renowned for its innovations within the industry, and grown to 23 Core Members theaters ranging in annual budget size from $150,000 to more than $5 million. At present, three employees—two full-time and one part-time—manage the Network’s diverse programs.
NNPN launched its Associate Membership category in August 2012. As a result, the Network now includes more than 100 theaters with an interest in new work, ranging in annual budget size from $50,000 to nearly $35 million in addition to it 30 Core Members.
And the growth continues: the Network’s newest project, the New Play Exchange, launched in January of 2015, is already the world’s largest and smartest database of new plays. A cloud-based script database—enhanced with a robust search-and-filter mechanism, crowd-sourced recommendations of plays, and the connectivity of a social networking site—the NPX lets writers share scripts and helps theaters discover and evaluate them in a more streamlined, targeted way than ever before.