A platform for new play development and creative engagement that responds to local community and public issues
with readings of new work coupled with issue expert panel discussions.

coLAB Arts’ play development program engages playwrights and theater artists to develop new work that is directly connected issues in the New Brunswick community. Theater artists are paired with local social advocacy organizations or subject-area experts to serve as resources for research and further community connection.

Development Process and Staged Reading

Play development through theORPHANAGE doesn’t follow a specific production or workshop path, but is facilitated via the needs of the piece. Excitement over an artist, their work, or addressed subject area, combined with resource availability will dictate when and if a project can be supported. The intention of the residency is to culminate with a staged reading of a play that speaks to a local issues or relevant constituency and that reverberates universally. Through exciting New York City partnerships, plays receive a second staged reading at a New York venue.

Previously produced artists and Work

Antu YacobLove In Submission - The play takes a hard look at female sexuality and polygyny in Islam. Yacob’s unique voice, humor, and insight gives her and the play a unique perspective on the new American cosmopolitan Muslim experience. Yazmina, an Oromo Muslim woman and immigrant in America is emotionally challenged by her American husband in a marriage she didn’t expect and chooses to explore outside the bounds of her community and religion in the pursuit of love.

Dustin Ballard and Tonya HayesBend in the River - The play dramatizes the story of the Carville, Louisiana Leprosarium, as documented in the local magazine, "The Star", which was published out of the leprosarium every month for 60 years until its closing at the turn of the last century. "Bend in the River" explores alternative ideas of incarceration, where individuals from every walk of life have been removed from society and forced to live out their lives together, confined, and in anonymity.

Dave Seamon, Shimmy Schwartz, and Annie Rutherford Lutz, The Eleventh Hour - an apocalyptic musical joyride about finding your family at the end of the world. The sudden appearance of a world-ending black hole forces Nevin, a college grad burnout, to bridge the chasms between his strained family relationships. Amy, ambitious and adventurous, wants to get back to New Brunswick, to spend her last few hours with her true love, Nevin. What's a harder distance to cross, a ravaged New Jersey Turnpike, or damaged family ties? Hopefully they'll get some help from Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Nicole PandolfoPump - A new play about a Philadelphia newspaper journalist, who, upon losing his job amidst layoffs, returns to small town life in South Jersey where he discovers a corporate cover up happening in his own backyard. Personal loyalties are tested as an exposé may save his career, but cost the livelihoods of his family and friends.