Plays are written to be spoken. They are stories meant to be told by talented actors who bring the characters to life. Most people can’t “hear” a play when they read a script. When professional actors perform it, when they give voice to those words, the play is a far different experience.
Play4Keeps is an initiative of Ashland New Plays Festival, which for 28 seasons has encouraged and supported playwrights in the development of new works for the stage. We’ve learned a lot working with playwrights and playing to audiences. We think there’s more that we can do. New ways to promote new plays.
Most new plays end up in slush piles where they go to die. Harsh but true. Not many theatres have the resources to read them, to sort the wheat from the chaff. They rely on agents, the eye of a needle through which too many playwrights hope to pass. Too few agents mean too many important voices go unheard.
How can we bring these plays to life and keep them alive? Can we work with playwrights to create a recording of their play and make it part of a treasury of new works for the stage, available anywhere, any time, on-demand? Can we make a place where new plays live?
Play4Keeps is made in Ashland, Oregon, a small town with a very big theatrical presence. We have unique resources at our disposal: a successful relationship with playwrights all over the world; a knowledgeable, dedicated core of 60-some reader/reviewers who know and love plays; and a deep pool of world-class acting talent centered on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Play4Keeps is a way to do more with these resources in supporting new works for the stage.
Why These Plays
Most of the plays presented here are winners and finalists from our annual Fall Festival, which presents concert readings of plays selected from the hundreds we receive each year. Most are works in progress. Some are fully realized.
Each year, 60 or more ANPF readers spend 7,000 hours reading, reviewing, debating and rating these works submitted by playwrights from all over the world. We receive far more good plays than the festival can present. Play4Keeps is one solution to bringing you more of the best new works that come our way.
There are many other organizations doing important work to develop new plays; we are working to establish collaborations with them. We want to promote them and their work in the same way we are promoting ANPF and its work. All of us are committed to bringing you the best plays we can find, and to supporting the playwrights who create them. Play4Keeps is a voice for all of us.