WP History

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WP Theater was founded in 1978 by Julia Miles to address the conspicuous underrepresentation of women artists working in the American theater. Miles was producing at The American Place Theatre, an Off-Broadway theater dedicated to producing new work by American writers. Miles began as Assistant Manager at The American Place Theatre in 1964 and advanced in the ranks to Associate Director. During this time, she noted the lack of plays written by women being produced by The American Place Theatre in comparison to those written by men. Under a grant from the Ford Foundation, Miles created The Women’s Project under the umbrella of The American Place Theatre to encourage the development of female playwrights and directors and to provide a forum for their work. For its first nine years, WP Theater staged its productions in the basement of The American Place theatre. In 1987, the project left The American Place Theatre and became an independent organization, known today as WP Theater.

Since 1978, WP Theater has produced more than 600 Off-Broadway plays and developmental projects and has partnered with a number of other New York theater companies for co-productions, including Playwrights Horizons and The New Group. Often, WP Theater produces plays that are New York premieres or world premieres. These include Bright Half Life written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Leigh Silverman, Stuffed by Lisa Lampanelli, Or, by Liz Duffy Adams, and Virginia Woolf’s only play, Freshwater, directed by Anne Bogart.

WP Theater’s first production was Choices, a one-woman show that was adapted from the works of Colette, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, and Joan Didion, amongst others. It was conceived by writer Patricia Bosworth and adapted by Bosworth, director Caymichael Patten, and actress Lily Lodge. Choices ran from November 30 to December 17, 1978 in the American Place Theatre basement. Julia Miles said the production “explores the choices that women have. Hopefully, there are now more of those choices and women are more definite about what they are.” After the production opened, Mel Gussowof The New York Times wrote, “Choices serves as a brief introduction to the artistic energy of literary women. Given the variety of versatile people who are engaged in the ‘Women’s Project,’ we look forward to the plays, playwrights and directors that should emerge from the American Place.”

In 1981, WP Theater produced Still Life, a documentary-style play about the aftermath of the Vietnam War written and directed by Emily Mann. The production featured Mary McDonnell, Timothy Near, and John Spencer and earned four Obie Awards, including the award for Best Production.

One of WP Theater’s most heralded productions is A…My Name is Alice, a revue of songs and sketches conceived and directed by Julianne Boyd and Joan Micklin Silver. The production earned the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Revue in the 1983-84 season, and featured songs and scenes penned by Winnie Holzman, Marta Kauffman, Anne Meara, and others.

WP Theater has worked closely with Cuban-American playwright, María Irene Fornés, since its inception. Fornés, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and nine-time Obie Award winner, is known for her avant-garde and experimental plays. WP Theater has produced three Fornés plays, including Abingdon Square, which earned the 1988 Obie for Best New American Play.

WP Theater artist alumni include Billie Allen, Anne Bogart, Pearl Cleage, Eve Ensler, María Irene Fornés, Pam MacKinnon, Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Joyce Carol Oates, Diane Paulus, Sarah Ruhl, Anna Deavere Smith, and Rebecca Taichman.

Actors who have performed in WP Theater productions include Tony Award winners and nominees Michael Cerveris, Kathleen Chalfant, Colleen Dewhurst, Tammy Grimes, Cherry Jones, Tonya Pinkins, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Thomas Sadoski, and Frances Sternhagen, Academy Award winners and nominees Linda Hunt, Kim Hunter, and Mary McDonnell, and Emmy Award winners and nominees Ruby Dee, America Ferrera, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jimmy Smits, and John Spencer. Other actors who have performed in WP Theater productions include Adrienne C. Moore, Pedro Pascal, and Tracie Thoms.

Alumni of the WP Lab include JoAnne Akalaitis, Tea Alagić, Rachel Chavkin, Quíara Alegria Hudes, and Anne Kauffman. Many Lab alumni have served as Artistic Directors at other theater companies, including Akalaitis (New York Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater), Emily Mann (McCarter Theatre), and Carey Perloff (A.C.T.).

 

Production History

 

2017-2018 SEASON

The 2018 Pipeline Festival
[PORTO]
What We’re Up Against
One Night Only (running as long as we can)

 

2016-2017 SEASON

Sundown, Yellow Moon
Stuffed

 

2015-2016 SEASON

Dear Elizabeth
Ironbound
The 2016 Pipeline Festival

 

2014-2015 SEASON

The Undeniable Sound of Right Now
Bright Half Life
A Beautiful Day In November On The Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes
When January Feels Like Summer

 

2013-2014 SEASON

The Most Deserving
The Architecture of Becoming
Row After Row

 

2012-2013 SEASON

Collapse
Jackie
Bethany

 

2011-2012 SEASON

We Play for the Gods
How The World Began
Milk Like Sugar

 

2010-2011 SEASON

Room
Apple Cove

 

2009-2010 SEASON

Lascivious Something
Smudge
Or,

 

2008-2009 SEASON

Global Colling: The Women Chill
Freshwater
Aliens With Extraordinary Skills

 

2007-2008 SEASON

Corporate Carnival
Crooked
Sand

 

2006-2007 SEASON

Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$
Transfigures
Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen

 

2005-2006 SEASON

The Cataract
Jump/Cut

 

2004-2005 SEASON

Inky
Best of Both Worlds
Antigone Project

 

2003-2004 SEASON

William Wharton’s Birdy
Touch

 

2002-2003 SEASON

Cheat
The Women of Lockerbie

 

2001-2002 SEASON

Carson McCullers (Historically Inaccurate)

 

2000-2001 SEASON

O Pioneers!
Saint Lucy’s Eyes
Leaving Queens
Hard Feelings

 

1999-2000 SEASON

Two-Headed
Our Place In Time
Gum

 

1998-1999 SEASON

The Exact Center of the Universe
The Chemistry of Change
The Knee Desires the Dirt

 

1997-1998 SEASON

The Summer in Gossensass
Phaedra in Delirium
The Water Children

 

1996-1997 SEASON

Under A Western Sky
Terra Incognita

 

1995-1996 SEASON

Crocodiles in the Potomac

 

1994-1995 SEASON

The Last Girl Singer
Why We Have a Body

 

1993-1994 SEASON

Black
Eating Chicken Feet

 

1992-1993 SEASON

The Brooklyn Trojan Women
The Autobiography of Aiken Fiction

 

1991-1992 SEASON

Dream of a Common Language
Chain/The Late Bus to Mecca
Approximating Mother

 

1990-1991 SEASON

Night Sky
The Encanto File & Other Short Plays
Day Trips

 

1989-1990 SEASON

Tales of the Lost Formicans
Violent Peace
Mill Fire

 

1988-1989 SEASON

Ma Rose
Niedecker
Ladies

 

1987-1988 SEASON

Etta Jenks
Reverend Jenkins’ Almost All Colored Orphanage Band
Abingdon Square

 

1986-1987 SEASON

Consequence

 

1985-1986 SEASON

Breaking the Prairie Wolf Code

 

1984-1985 SEASON

Paducah
Four Corners

 

1983-1984 SEASON

A… My Name Is Alice

 

1982-1983 SEASON

Territorial Rites
Heart of a Dog
Little Victories

 

1981-1982 SEASON

The Brothers
The Death of a Miner

 

1980-1981 SEASON

Still Life
Constance & The Musician
After The Revolution

 

1979-1980 SEASON

Personals
Milk of Paradise
Holy Places

 

1978-1979 SEASON

Letters Home
Warriors From a Long Childhood
Signs of Life
Choices