Theatre as a Catalyst for Social Change

New Play Frontiers (NPF) is a long-term initiative to develop and produce new plays that explore our American identity inspired by stories and concerns in our region. We invite nationally recognized playwrights to immerse themselves in neighboring communities in collaboration with community partners. As we shepherd the plays from page to stage, we attract new audiences and create an environment that supports dialogue and greater civic engagement.

Eleven writers have participated in NPF residencies and received commissions to create new theatre pieces that would not exist without this initiative. The opportunity to explore and discover our surrounding neighborhoods and engage with a wide range of community partners provides these writers with a distinctive experience unlike any other new play program in the country. Our NPF playwrights are Steve H. Broadnax III, Eisa Davis, Sanjit De Silva, Colman Domingo, James Ijames, Kate Fodor, Karen Hartman, Dominique Morisseau, Kathryn Petersen, Deepa Purohit, and Laura Schellhardt.  

To learn more about the origins and discoveries of New Play Frontiers, read Producing Director Zak Berkman’s 2013 Being Regional For A Reason blog series on Howlround.

“People’s Light’s New Play Frontiers program is emblematic of the arts in action, producing plays that engage our local communities, promote important issues, and inspire the audience members to consider new viewpoints regarding identity, heritage, and personal experience.” 
— Former State Senator Andy Dinniman


Project Dawn by Karen Hartman  premiered June 2017 
Read more about the development and impact of Project Dawn, the first world premiere to emerge from NPF.

Mud Row by Dominique Morisseau  premiered June 2019
Read more about the development and impact of Mud Row.

Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland by Steve H. Broadnax III — premiered May 2022

Mushroom by Eisa Davis —premiered September 2022


Crushed Earth By Deepa Purohit & Sanjit De Silva
“Our play follows the intersecting lives of three complex characters who all have roots in eastern Pennsylvania: an 18th century Lenape woman, Chëlilis, in search of her ancestral homeland; a present day Indian-American art student, Gayatri, whose eyesight is failing her; and Frederick, an African-American Sheriff who, amidst a winter storm in June, unexpectedly uncovers the truth of his past. The play explores the question: Who has a right to decide what places we claim as our home?"

This immersive audio play is now streaming through the month of November, 2023. 

In Process:

Photo: Laura Schellhardt workshops The Game & The Change at Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York, January 2020

The Game & The Change by Laura Schellhardt

“Working on the New Play Frontiers commission has reminded me of why I became a playwright in the first place. I entered the work to engage with specific communities, to collect different points of view and - in so doing - to challenge and redefine my own.  Recently, I've been spending my time engaging with the next generation - specifically junior high and high schoolers from around the country.  Listening to them voice their concerns and - more importantly - watching them forge their own path through those concerns - has given me great hope for the future. In my NPF fellowship so far, I've met with kids from the Coateseville, Phoenixville and West Chester, and my play will focus on the many ways they're fighting to become leaders in their respective communities.”

Read more from Laura on our blog

New Projects by Guadalis Del Carmen and Lisa Ramirez