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The Playwrights Foundation

Playwrights Foundation (PF) was founded in 1976 by Robert Woodruff, and is now widely recognized as one of the top play development labs in the country, and the only of its size and scope on the West Coast. PF fulfills an essential need in the cultural ecology of the Bay Area by providing a home for exceptional local and national emerging and mid-career playwrights. In doing so, we’ve earned a national reputation for introducing a truly diverse range of exceptional new voices to the American stage.

Since its inception, PF has served nearly 500 writers at all levels of their careers, providing indispensable resources and support to develop their work, learn new skills, forge connections with producers, and engage audiences with their work. More than 80% of the artists that PF has supported have received subsequent productions of their work, including two opening on Broadway.

Our program alumni include some of the most important voices in contemporary theater, including Sam Shepard, David Henry Hwang, Anna Deavere Smith, Philip Kan Gotanda, Paula Vogel, Naomi Iizuka, Marcus Gardley, Annie Baker, Katori Hall, George Brant, Peter Nachtrieb, and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, to name a few.


Our artistic purpose is to support and champion contemporary playwrights in the creation of new works, in order to sustain theater as a vital, dynamic art form. We seek to identify exceptional emerging artists across a broad spectrum of artistic and career positions, and support them in the inception and development of new plays that speak to and from an increasingly diverse society. Playwrights Foundation sustains a commitment to these playwrights, supplying them with the space and time to explore their ideas, untried experiments, and untested theories in an environment free from the pressures of the marketplace.


In 1976, Playwrights Foundation initiated the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF) to create a venue for young, vanguard playwrights and their collaborators to experiment with new ideas, develop and nurture creative collaborative relationships, and push the boundaries of the form. The BAPF is a hothouse for new work, with indispensable creative development opportunities offered to over 300 diverse, fiercely talented contemporary playwrights to date.

Our other programs include: the Producing Partners Initiative, the Rough Readings Series, the One Minute Play Festival, the Des Voix Festival, the New Play Institute, and the Resident Playwrights Initiative.

Alumni of PF programs have gone on to win every major award in the theater world, including the Tony, the Obie, the Whiting, the Steinberg, Princess Grace, and the Pulitzer Prize.