For 31 years, SAF has played a major role in the development of new plays for the American theater, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and has established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of the New York metropolitan region. The people and projects we support go on to shape the landscape of theater in America and around the world; our apprentices and interns mature to become leaders in the performing arts and beyond; and our audiences sustain the work of celebrated artists and newly-discovered voices, as crucial participants in the creation of new work.
The cornerstone of SAF’s artistic programming is the Powerhouse Season, an eight-week residency and partnership with Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where each summer more than two hundred and fifty professional playwrights, directors, actors, and designers as well as close to fifty student apprentices live and work together. During the Powerhouse Season, SAF is deliberately flexible with its production resources and with its three producing venues, to meet the specific needs of artists and projects. 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 Powerhouse Apprentice Program is a key part of our activities – a rigorous, pre-professional, hands-on experience for a new generation of theater artists. The Apprentice Company take conservatory-level courses taught by resident faculty, attend master classes led by distinguished artists, and perform in their own season of classic and original works. As part of its broader commitment to the national theater community, SAF also hosts the Artists and Theaters-in-Residence Program to provide additional development resources, artistic feedback, and access to the superb creative community that SAF fosters; recent participants have included Ars Nova, The Lark Play Development Center, Urban Theater Movement, and writers Stephen Belber, Michael Cerveris, and Willy Holtzman. We also offer several Awards and Fellowships to early-career writers and directors.
SAF continues the New York City Reading Series in collaboration with Barnard College, where we present free public readings of work in progress at Barnard’s Diana Center. We use this series to create new opportunities for writers and enable SAF to reach a wider audience in New York City. Works by Hamish Linklater, Martyna Majok, Mona Mansour, Billy Porter, José Rivera, Melissa Ross, John Patrick Shanley, and others have been developed in this series so far. We also offer additional workshops and other project development activities, as well as a robust year-round creative home for artists, based out of our New York City office.
We are a vital incubator for artists and their work, a catalyst for new stories that go on to theaters across the country. The Tony Award-winning plays Tru (Jay Presson Allen) and Side Man (Warren Leight) received premiere productions with SAF, and our audiences have seen nearly all of John Patrick Shanley’s works in development, including the first public reading of his Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play Doubt and most recently the world premiere production of The Danish Widow. Other recent highlights include the world premiere of Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line and aworkshop of Beth Henley’s Laugh.
At least nine projects developed recently by SAF will have major New York City, regional, and international productions during 2014/2015, including: The Fortress of Solitude, by Michael Friedman and Itamar Moses (Public Theater & Dallas Theater Center); Found, book by Hunter Bell & Lee Overtree, music and original lyrics by Eli Bolin (Atlantic Theater Company); The Invisible Hand, by Ayad Akhtar (New York Theatre Workshop); Brooklynite, by Michael Mayer and Peter Lerman (Vineyard Theater); Bright Star by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (Old Globe Theater); and Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Public Theater).
Several other recent projects that trace their developmental roots to SAF include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812; Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian; the Broadway productions of Seminar (Theresa Rebeck), A Steady Rain (Keith Huff), and American Idiot; as well as The House That Will Not Stand (Marcus Gardley), Murder Ballad (Juliana Nash/Julia Jordan), The Twenty-Seventh Man (Nathan Englander), The Power of Duff (Stephen Belber), Emotional Creature (Eve Ensler), and Jennifer Westfeldt’s feature film Friends with Kids.
SAF has supported the development and work of writers such as Jon Robin Baitz, Lee Blessing, Eric Bogosian, The Debate Society, David Marshall Grant, Zoe Kazan, David Lindsay-Abaire, Joanna Murray-Smith, Eric Overmyer, Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik, Nicky Silver, and Ruby Rae Spiegel, and directors including Joe Mantello, Michael Mayer, Pam MacKinnon, Leigh Silverman, Alex Timbers, and Kate Whoriskey.