New York Stage and Film (SAF) plays a significant and distinctive role in the development of new plays for the American theater by providing a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures. Now entering its 30th season, SAF has established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of the New York metropolitan region and artists of the world.
The cornerstone of SAF’s artistic programming is the Powerhouse Season, an eight-week residency on the Vassar College campus in Poughkeepsie, NY where each summer more than two hundred professional playwrights, directors, actors, and designers as well as over fifty apprentices live and work together. The program is designed to meet and respond to plays at various stages of development by helping them move to the next level. The professional artists present mainstage productions with full technical support, as well as workshops and readings of works in progress, all of which are open to the public. The Apprentice Company take conservatory-level courses taught by a resident faculty, attend master classes led by distinguished artists, and perform in their own season of classic and original works. In addition to these programs, SAF hosts residencies for emerging and established writers which offer these artists protected time to devote to their writing along with the support of an active theatrical community. During the Powerhouse Season, new creative alliances are formed, artists substantially broaden their experience and expertise, plays take giant steps forward, nascent artists are given their first opportunities, knowledge is passed from working professionals to students, and audiences grow to understand and support the process of creating work for the theater. From September – May, SAF produces a New York City Readings Series to further support plays developed during the Powerhouse season, to deepen relationships with SAF’s family of artists, and to introduce the company to new artists and projects.
The success of New York Stage and Film’s programming is seen in the roster of highly acclaimed plays and artists that have been produced by the company during the last 29 seasons. The first Powerhouse mainstage season included Savage in Limbo, a new play by the then-relatively-unknown John Patrick Shanley. Since then, SAF has gone on to premiere twelve more of Shanley’s works including the dreamer examines his pillow, Cellini, Doubt (2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), and Sleeping Demon. Among other highly acclaimed new plays that were developed at SAF are the premiere productions of the Tony Award-winning Tru by Jay Presson Allen and Side Man by Warren Leight. Jon Robin Baitz and Beth Henley have also developed some of their most important work with the company: Baitz’s Three Hotels and A Fair Country, and Henley’s Debutante Ball, Signature, Revelers, and Family Week. Other plays developed at SAF by some of today’s most respected writers include David Marshall Grant’s Snakebit, Richard Greenberg’s The Dazzle, Joanna Murray-Smith’s Honour an Ninety, Lee Blessing’s Chesapeake, Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets as well as her newest play, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, and Paul Weitz’s Roulette. Keith Huff’s play A Steady Rain, developed at SAF in 2006, was recently one of Broadway’s biggest hits, and Green Day’s American Idiot, in residence at SAF in 2009, transferred to Broadway in 2010. Most recently, NYSAF has been represented on Broadway by On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Seminar written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Theresa Rebeck. Off-Broadway and regionally, NYSAF is represented this year by Sons of the Prophet, February House, and the Lions Gate release of Jennifer Westfeldt’s feature film Friends with Kids.
In addition to the above, SAF has supported the development and work of writers Jane Anderson, Stephen Belber, Eric Bogosian, Tom Donaghy, Kyle Jarrow, Steve Martin, Itamar Moses, Eric Overmyer, Theresa Rebeck, Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater, Nicky Silver, and Regina Taylor; directors Jo Bonney, Mark Brokaw, Barry Edelstein, Michael Greif, Sheryl Kaller, Pam MacKinnon, Joe Mantello, Michael Mayer, Lisa Peterson, Roger Rees, Leigh Silverman, Liz Swados, Alex Timbers, David Warren, and Michael Wilson; and actors Chris Cooper, Olympia Dukakis, Mia Farrow, John Gallagher, Jr., Marcia Gay Harden, Marin Ireland, Lucy Liu, Julianna Margulies, Logan Marshall-Green, Mary McDonnell, Frances McDormand, Rob Morrow, Bill Pullman, Josh Radnor, Reg Rogers, Kyra Sedgwick, John Slattery, David Strathairn, and Patricia Wettig among many others. New York City-based companies that SAF has supported through residencies during the Powerhouse Program include the 52nd Street Project, The Classical Theater of Harlem, The Lark Theater Company, Les Freres Corbusier, Malaparte, Naked Angels, Nerve Theater, Seraphim, Theatreworks, and Voice and Vision.