New Play Programs

The Lab@SCR is South Coast Repertory’s nine-initiative investment in new works for the American theatre​. The Lab@SCR expands and deepen​s SCR’s already-ambitious and nationally renowned new-play development program. The Lab@SCR includes a commitment to a more rigorous development of new American musicals, commissions for playwrights at various stages of their careers, playwright residencies and additional in-house readings and workshops.

"South Coast Repertory must continuously develop voices for the American theatre,” says Artistic Director David Ivers. “Doubling down on all aspects of our existing new-play development programs is essential to our mission. It is a natural progression as we recommit to the vision of our founders, expand how we support playwrights, and get creative about activating our new work, aiming for productions at our theatre and beyond.”

Watch Artistic Director David Ivers talks about expanding new play development in The Lab@SCR.

Nick Waaland, Daniel Chung, Kyle T. Hester, Aaron Blakely, Larry Powell and Linda Gehringer in ​rehearsal for ​a 201​​9 NewSCRipts reading of ​​The Canadians by ​Adam Bock. World premiere production given during SCR's 2019-20 season.

All About The Lab@SCR

The Lab@SCR is a comprehensive play-development infrastructure that provides resources with which artists can imagine, create and develop new work for SCR and for the American theatre. These expanded and new initiatives are all housed in The Lab@SCR.

  • Pacific Playwrights Festival: This annual, three-day festival showcases the best in new American plays and musicals. Founded in 1998, it serves as a meeting-ground for national theatre professionals and avid local new-play fans by presenting seven new plays—in readings, workshops and productions. Going forward, it will provide a forum for sharing work emerging from The Lab@SCR and as a means to advance the development of that work. PPF aims to promote co-productions, multiple productions and new opportunities for America’s finest playwrights, and to foster a sense of community among artists and audiences devoted to new American theatre. Information about our play submission procedures.

  • Musicals: Beginning in 2020, SCR commits to the goal of including one musical or music-theatre piece in each Pacific Playwrights’ Festival and to presenting an evening of “Lab Samples”—excerpts from musicals and plays currently in development in The Lab@SCR.

  • Pinnacle Commissions: On its own, or in partnership with a like-minded theatre, SCR will periodically offer a large, “pinnacle commission” to a major American playwright. The inaugural commission of $60,000, granted in 2020, is in partnership with Playwrights Horizons.

  • Mid-Career Commissions: SCR commissions exceptional mid-career playwrights, offering higher compensation, with an eye toward encouraging their continued contributions to the American theatre in the face of lucrative opportunities in other media.

  • Emerging Commissions: SCR places a special emphasis on investing in early-career playwrights, for whom a commission serves as both financial support—at a time when it’s particularly needed—and a vote of confidence.

  • CrossRoads Commissions: SCR’s CrossRoads Initiative provides commissions to writers, or other generative artists, whom the theatre brings to Orange County for immersive, community-engagement residencies at the beginning of and at key moments in their creative process. CrossRoads promotes a shared sense that new projects are being created for this community, inspired by this community and with the active engagement of people who live in Orange County neighborhoods.

  • NewSCRipts: SCR’s first new-play development program, NewSCRipts, was created in 1985 and opened a window on the development process for interested audience members. It allows playwrights the chance to hear their developing plays read and to receive audience feedback. Under The Lab@SCR, NewSCRipts will continue presenting three public play-readings on Monday nights throughout the season, which provide playwrights and SCR’s artistic staff with a way to test drive a work-in-progress and receive feedback from the audience. In addition, selected readings will be taken on the road for public presentations at local colleges and universities to give writers the benefit of readings in front of demographically different audiences. Information about our play submission procedures.

  • Lab/Work: These in-house readings and workshops will take place when a writer wants to work with actors and/or other collaborators without having a public audience at the end of the process. The Lab@SCR will provide any manner of in-house reading or workshop, ranging from a one-day table reading to a long-term exploration. By tailoring the collaborative experience to the needs of the individual writer and project, Lab/Work puts the emphasis on process and discovery.

  • Lab Residencies: Sometimes for a creative artist, it’s just about retreating from the demands of everyday life and being given a place and the time to write, away from the usual distractions. SCR playwrights always know they can find that retreat, now funded by The Lab@SCR.

About Commissions

Since 1983, SCR has awarded 339 commissions to 231 playwrights, composers and lyricists, with more than 50 active commissions. These are the theatre’s most effective means of supporting and developing long-term relationships with writers. Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee, Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg, Brooklyn Boy by Donald Margulies, Golden Child by David Henry Hwang​, The Beard of Avon by Amy Freed and A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath were all successful products of SCR commissions.

New commissions given in 2019-20 as part of The Lab@SCR include a musical project from Jane Bruce (singer/songwriter/actor; Elf: The Musical, Jagged Little Pill), a collaboration between playwright Kate Hamill (The Scarlet Letter, SCR world premiere, March 28-April 25, 2020) and composer-performers, The Bengsons (The Lucky Ones; Hundred Days), and plays from Kate Cortesi (Love) and Ana Nogueira (Mask Only). SCR’s commitment to emerging writers ​continues with three commissions awarded to Spenser Davis (Plainclothes), Shayan Lotfi (Park-e Laleh) and Charly Evon Simpson (Behind the Sheet).

The theatre is also currently developing Threshold by Amy Brenneman; Beatrice by Lauren Gunderson, Dory Fantasmagory (a theatre for young audiences play) by John Glore; and Prelude to a Kiss (musical adaptation) with book by Craig Lucas, music by Daniel Messé and lyrics by Sean Hartley.

The theatre has produced 155 world premieres; and, since its founding in 1998, the Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF), an annual, national showcase of new work, has presented 141 new plays. Ninety percent of PPF works have gone on to productions at SCR and/or other theatres.

Writers ​With ​Current Commissions

Luis Alfaro • Jane Bruce • Bekah Brunstetter • Julia Cho • Mia Chung • Kate Cortesi • Evelina Fernandez • Lindsey Ferrentino • Selina Fillinger • Amy Freed • Michael Golamco • Isaac Gomez • Richard Greenberg • Dipika Guha • Lauren Gunderson • Adam Gwon • Jennifer Haley • Kate Hamill and The Bengsons • Ike Holter • Chisa Hutchinson • Naomi Iizuka • David Jacobi • Rajiv Joseph • Claire Kiechel • Kimber Lee • Mike Lew • Matthew Lopez • Alex Lubischer • Martyna Majok • Laura Marks • Dan Messé & Sean Hartley • Molly Smith Metzler • Michael Mitnick • Dominique Morisseau • Jessica Moss • Ana Nogueira • liliana padilla • Jonathan Payne • Brendon Pelsue • Max Posner • Kemp Powers • Heidi Schreck • Madhuri Shekar • Jen Silverman • Charise Castro Smith • Octavio Solis • Jonathan Spector • Susan Soon-He Stanton • Sanaz Toossi • Sarah Treem • Mfoniso Udofia • Caroline V. McGraw • Lauren Yee • Karen Zacarías