Civic Ensemble’s New Play Development initiative centers around the needs of the playwright. Civic Ensemble is committed to producing and developing new plays of social relevance by or about women and people of color. We offer writers focused on these issues a place to develop their visions at their own pace from a place of power. In little more than a year, Civic has helped develop seven new plays through staged readings, workshops, and Civic Labs.

Civic Lab is a laboratory for theatre artists to develop new plays. In the past, our Civic Labs has followed a closed workshop format: three playwrights bring in 10 pages of new and/or difficult material from a new play. A group of three directors leads three actors in immediate, risk-taking, on-your-feet explorations of the material so that playwrights can get a sense of what is or is not working in their nascent plays, all while giving actors the opportunity to truly ‘play’ without the pressure of auditioning for a job or performing for a paid audience. We’ve recently boiled the lab process down, allowing one playwright to develop a larger piece of work in a shorter period of time, with a group of colleagues.

Our next Civic Lab will feature Maxie Mettler’s play I AM NOT REAL, held in partnership with the Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts on April 6th, 2015 for an audience of invited participants.

Civic Workshops are more extensive versions of the lab process, in which one director works with one play and once cast over the course of a week or longer, with the playwright in residence. The actors and director will use readings, theatre games, written assignments and various forms of improvisation to help the development process, and bring the playwright one draft closer to a finished piece.

Our Labs and Workshops allow progress to happen in a fun, creative, safe environment where writers, directors and actors are encouraged to experiment and make bold choices with the work.