January 8 - 10, 2021
When The Dramaworkshop launched PBD’s New Year/New Plays Festival in January, 2019, we were uncertain our audiences would share our enthusiasm for the event. Were they interested in seeing plays that are still evolving? Would they embrace the bare-bones presentation: no sets, no costumes, just scripts being read aloud by wonderful, professional actors? And would they eagerly share their thoughts and opinions about the plays with the playwrights?

It was apparent last year that the answer to all those questions was an emphatic yes. So we weren’t all that surprised that tickets went fast to this season’s festival, which took place from January 10-12 and was a virtual sellout.   

The third annual festival is already set for January 8-10, 2021.
The festival was established to provide playwrights with the opportunity to hear their words performed in front of a live audience, which is instrumental to the development and growth of a play. Audience reactions – laughter, silence, even disruptive coughing – tell the playwright something about how his or her work is being received. But more invaluable are the talkbacks, when patrons have the opportunity to speak directly to the playwright (as well as the director and cast), and express their feelings about what’s working and what’s not working. They can also choose to fill out feedback forms, either on paper or online; those comments are also shared with the playwrights. This season roughly 100 patrons took the time to write down their thoughts. There were additional opportunities to engage with the dramatists at a Playwrights Forum and a Lunch with the Artists.  
This year’s plays and playwrights were The Hat Box by Eric Coble, As I See It by Jenny Connell Davis, Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom by Padraic Lillis, The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell, and The People Downstairs by Michael McKeever. Each of the dramatists shared their thoughts about why the festival was so meaningful to them.  
Eric Coble: “One of the secret pleasures of being a playwright is arriving in a community you have almost no idea about, and over the course of a week getting to know artists and audiences that will not only inform your entire artistic process for years to come, but become friends you want to work with again and again. I experienced that pleasure at PBD. Such a gift.”
Jenny Connell Davis: “It was so exciting to be part of PBD’s second festival! I was thoroughly inspired by the work of my fellow playwrights, and thrilled to have a chance to hear my script as interpreted by talented actors. The highlight of the festival for me, though, was the opportunity to interact with the PBD audience – what smart, engaged folks. I learned a great deal, both about the play and about the West Palm Beach community in those conversations, and hope to return soon.” 
Padraic Lillis: "PBD's New Plays Festival is wonderful because everyone involved is invested in the success of the plays: the staff, actors, directors, and most notably the PBD audience. I was so impressed with and appreciative of the audience's investment and interest in the plays, and I was grateful for the many opportunities to engage in one-on-one conversations with them. It was a gift to be part of this incredibly supportive community for the week."
John W. Lowell: “The New Plays Festival was rewarding in too many ways for me to recount them all here. But meeting an extraordinarily talented and gifted team of actors, directors, and producers was the kickoff, followed by an introduction to a marvelous group of writing colleagues, and finally, hearing my work, as well as the work of those colleagues, in the presence of a sharp, perceptive, kind audience was more than most playwrights could hope to expect. As an introduction to PBD, it was a thrill and a profound pleasure.”
Michael McKeever: “Festivals like The Dramaworkshop's New Year/New Plays Festival are the lifeblood of a playwright. Getting the chance to present a work in this early stage is a gift. I am enormously grateful to Bill Hayes and the PBD family for giving me the opportunity to develop The People Downstairs with such hard-working professionals and to present it in front of such an astute, engaged audience.”