Studio R&D: New Work at Studio

Building on 41 years of producing powerful contemporary theatre, Studio supports new writing from inception to first production: commissioning new work from both writers and directors; giving artists time and resources to develop their work; and hosting them in residence during the rehearsal process. Our intimate spaces are uniquely suited to the immediacy of new work—they’re small, and they provide a direct relationship between the actor and audience.

Studio R&D is our incubator for new plays, new relationships, and new modes of collaboration. Encompassing the full range of Studio’s commissioning and new work development activities, Studio R&D supports artists through both the writing and development of their work, offering commissions, residencies, and artistic retreats. Studio R&D provides artists the resources and tools they need to create, and allows Studio to introduce aesthetically diverse new work into the international repertoire.

Beginning with Lungs in the 2011-2012 Season, Studio has published all of its world premiere plays, broadening the reach of these new works, and launching them onto the international stage. The work Studio has premiered has gone on to productions across the US, Canada, and Europe, playing Off Broadway, touring the UK, and entering the permanent repertoire of the Schaubüehne in Berlin.


In 2012, Artistic Director David Muse began a commissioning program, inviting new and established writers from the US and beyond to develop work specifically for Studio’s intimate spaces. Past commissions include established and emerging writers: Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Vivienne Franzmann, Rachel Bonds, Clare Lizzimore, Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, Ike Holter, Aaron Posner, Sarah DeLappe, Abe Koogler, Qui Nguyen, Steph Del Rosso, Emily Schwend, James Ijames, and James Fritz. Beginning in 2016, Studio began to extend commissions to directors as well, offerings artist whose work we admire the time to reflect, read, and develop projects for Studio. Commissioned directors are Lileana Blain-Cruz, Carl Cofield, Mike Donahue, Jackson Gay, Eric Ruffin, and Lila Neugebauer.

Studio produced its first play from this program in 2014, The Wolfe Twins by Rachel Bonds. 

Studio R&D: Work in Process

Studio supports new writing from inception to first production. We commission new work from both writers and directors, give artists time and resources to develop their work, and host them in residence during the rehearsal process. Through the Studio R&D: Work in Process, we’re opening up the creative process a little early to another critical component of artmaking: the audience.

Okinawa Demo Reel

Okinawa Demo Reel is an episodic video project from playwright/director and Georgetown University professor Natsu Onoda Power that let's viewers into a rehearsal room of ideas that are being tested out for a play about imperialism, colonialism, militarization and connecting across differences. Through the video project, Natsu invites viewers along for the evolution of this emerging theatre piece, tests out ideas she plans to integrate into the final product, and refines her devised Zoom-based development process with dramaturg Soyica Colbert. 

The project is part documentary, part theatre, a voyeuristic look into a playwright's creative process, and "something else entirely," Natsu explains.

Commissioned Artists

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Past Commissions

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Rachel Bonds

Rachel Bonds is a playwright and performer currently living in Brooklyn. Her plays have been developed by New Georges, Ars Nova, Ensemble Studio Theatre, LaMaMa, The Flea, Playwrights Horizons, The Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Williamstown Theater Festival, Gotham Stage Company, Chicago’s American Theater Company, McCarter Theatre, Roundabout Underground, The Arden, and Manhattan Theatre Club. She is an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, a member of EST’s Youngblood, a 2010-12 member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, and a Playwriting Mentor in the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Program. She was an Associate Artist in Residence at The Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Father William Ralston Fellow at the 2011 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Rachel is a graduate of Brown University.

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton has developed work with Page 73, New Georges, and Ensemble Studio Theater. The recipient of the Iowa Arts Fellowship and the Provost's Writing Fellowship, she has participated in Play Penn, Youngblood, I-73, and New Georges’ The Jam. Her plays have been finalists for The O'Neill, The Lark Pony Fellowship, The Yale Drama Series, The Princess Grace Award, and New Dramatists. Mary holds her MFA in Playwriting from The University of Iowa and is currently attending the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard.

(As of June 2016)

Aaron Posner

Aaron Posner was the founding Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre and is an Associate Artist at the Folger Theatre and Milwaukee Rep. He has received numerous awards as a director and playwright including a Theatre Bay Area Award, three Barrymore Awards, an Outer Critics Circle Award, The John Gassner Award, and six Helen Hayes Awards as a director or playwright. His plays include My Name is Asher Lev; The Chosen; Stupid Fucking Bird; Life Sucks (or the Present Ridiculous); Who Am I This Time? (And Other Conundrums of Love); Sometimes a Great Notion; A Murder, A Mystery & A Marriage (with James Sugg); and many others. Posner has directed more than 150 productions at major regional theatres across the country. Posner, from Eugene, Oregon, is an Eisenhower Fellow, a graduate of Northwestern University, and lives in the DC area with his wife, actress Erin Weaver, and his daughter Maisie.

(As of February 2017) 

Mike Donahue

Mike Donahue's recent productions include the world premieres of Rachel Bonds’s The Wolfe Twins (Studio Theatre) and Swimmers (Marin Theatre Company), Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride (Mcc and Denver Center Theatre Company) Lauren Feldman’s Grace, or The Art of Climbing (Denver Center Theatre Company); Jen Silverman’s Collective Rage (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and MCC), The Roommate (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Williamstown Theatre Festival), Phoebe in Winter (Clubbed Thumb), The Hunters (Cherry Lane Mentor Project); Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya with Campbell Scott (Weston Playhouse); Ethan Lipton’s Red-Handed Otter(Playwrights Realm); Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki with new libretto by Meg Miroshnik (Chicago Opera Theatre); and Assassins, Henry IV & V (co-director), and A Number (Playmakers Rep, 2011/12 Distinguished Guest Artist). Donahue is a recipient of a Fulbright to Berlin, the Drama League Fall Fellowship, The Boris Sagal Fellowship at Williamstown, and the Inaugural Opera America Director-Designer Showcase Award. He is an alumnus of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and was the Artistic Director of the Yale Summer Cabaret for two seasons. Donahue is a graduate of Harvard University (Louis Sudler Prize for Artistic Excellence) and the Yale School of Drama (MFA).

(As of August 2018)

Ike Holter

David Cale is the writer and performer of 11 solo works including The History of Kisses, which premiered at Studio Theatre, Palomino (Bay Area Critics Award), A Likely Story,Lillian (Obie Award), Deep in a Dream of You (Bessie Award), Smooch Music, and The Redthroats (Bessie Award), the latter two were both also presented at Studio Theatre. Cale wrote the book, lyrics, co-composed the music for, and starred in the musical Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky (Outer Critics Circle Nomination) and collaborated with Dael Orlandersmith on The Blue Album. His most recent works include the solo play Harry Clarke, starring Billy Crudup, which premiered at the Vineyard Theatre and transferred to the Minetta Lane Theatre as the inaugural theatre production of Audible. For Harry Clarke, Cale received the 2018 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show. His solo musical memoir We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time, for which he wrote the book, lyrics, and co-composed the music with Matthew Dean Marsh, premiered at the Goodman Theatre and received the 2019 Jeff Award for Best New Musical and a Jeff nomination for Best Solo Performance. We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time opened at The Public Theater and received a 2020 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, a 2020 Lucille Lortel Nomination for Outstanding Solo Show, and a 2020 Drama Desk Nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance.

Heidi Rodewald

Heidi Rodewald was co-composer of the musical Passing Strange, which transferred from The Public Theater to Broadway in 2008 where it was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Orchestrations. Passing Strange won a Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, the 2008 Obie Award for Best New American Theater Piece and Best Ensemble, and was made into a film by Spike Lee. Rodewald joined The Negro Problem in 1997 and since then has worked alongside Stew, performing, producing, arranging, and composing. She is currently working on a new musical, Against You, a free adaptation of Antigone set in the 1960’s with librettist, Donna Di Novelli.

Clare Lizzimore

Clare Lizzimore is a playwright and an Olivier-Award winning director. Her first play, Mint (2013), was produced at the Royal Court's Open Court Season and long-listed for the prestigious Bruntwood Prize. Her first radio play was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014, her new radio play The Rage was broadcast in 2016. She is currently under commission with the Royal Court Theatre and the Almeida Theatre. As a director, she has worked extensively in new writing, and her latest production—Bull by Mike Bartlett—won the 2015 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in An Affiliate Theatre for its production at The Young Vic; it premiered at Sheffield Theatres and also toured to 59E59 in New York. Other recent directing credits include One Day When We Were Young (Paines Plough); Lay Down Your Cross and On the Rocks (Hampstead Theatre); Pieces of Vincent (Arcola Theatre); Faces in the Crowd, War and Peace, and Fear and Misery (Royal Court Theatre); Jonah and Otto (Royal Exchange); and Tom Fool (Glasgow Citizens Theatre and the Bush Theatre, nominated for four CATS Awards). Lizzimore’s directing awards include the Channel 4 Theatre Directors Award and the Arts Foundation Theatre Directing Fellowship.

(As of October 2015).


Stew wrote the book and co-wrote the music and lyrics to Passing Strange, for which he received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, and four other Tony nominations including Best Musical. He is also a two-time Obie Award winner for Passing Strange (Best New Theater Piece and Best Ensemble). Stew leads a band called The Negro Problem (TNP), which created the song cycles “Making It” (St. Ann’s Warehouse) and “Brooklyn Omnibus” (Brooklyn Academy of Music). Stew is a member of The Sundance Institute Alumni Advisory Board and was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

(As of March 2015) 

Abe Koogler

Abe Koogler's plays include Advance Man; Blue Skies Process; Kill Floor, which premiered at Lincoln Center Theater with a regional premiere at American Theater Company; and Fulfillment Center, which premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club. Koogler is a recipitent of the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Award and Williamstown Theatre Festival's Weissberger Award. He is under commission from Manhattan Theatre Club and Studio Theatre. He was a Michener Fellow at UT-Austin and is an alum of Juilliard's Playwrights Program. 

Emily Schwend

Emily Schwend's plays include Utility (The Amoralists in New York City, Orange Tree Theatre in London, Interrobang Theatre Project, 2016 Yale Drama Series Award, 2017 IT Award for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play), The Other Thing (Second Stage Theatre Uptown), Take Me Back (Walkerspace), South Of Settling (Steppenwolf's Next Up Rep), and Splinters (CUDC Source Festival). She was a 2016-2017 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University and the inaugural 2014 Tow Foundation playwright-in-residence at Second Stage Theatre. She is a frequent contributor to Christine Jones’s Theatre for One booth. She is the recipient of a Bogliasco Fellowship, a MacDowell Fellowship, the ACT New Play Award, the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwrights Prize, the Lecomte du Nouy Prize, and the Heideman Prize. Her work has been commissioned by Studio Theatre in DC, the Ensemble Studio Theatre through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Old Vic in London. She is a proud alumna of the playwriting programs at Juilliard and Tisch.

World Premieres at Studio

*Studio-commissioned work