About the Hart New Play Initiative

The Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative (HartNPI) is a play development program in contest form. For the inaugural cycle, scripts were solicited from around the country (with no entry fee and electronic submission to minimize costs for the playwrights). This first cycle we received 1,243 scripts from 43 states and 5 countries!

Some of the key people at the kick-off reception in New York City

Producing Artistic Director Kevin Cochran; Advisory Board Member James Lapine;

daughter of George S. Kaufman, Anne Kaufman; Artistic Director Christopher Hart;

Executive Director Charles Johanson; and host Dr. Catherine Hart.

The initial screening was done by the staff and selected readers. These initial readers chose 23 semi-finalists. Another round of reading by a group of elite Hart Initiative readers brought the number down to the eight finalists. These eight plays were then read by our panel of theater notables (including playwrights, directors and producers) and they selected the final four plays.

Each of the four plays received a reading with a professional cast in front of an audience with a moderated discussion afterward. The readings took place at 59E59 Theaters, our New York City home theater, as part of our Jeremy Nussbaum New Play Reading Series. After the readings, two of these plays were chosen to receive a professional production at Grove Theater Center, our Los Angeles home theater.

For the inaugural cycle, the four winners were
Exit Wounds by Wendy Graf,
Confederates by Suzanne Bradbeer,
Find & Sign
by Wendy MacLeod and
Queen by Madhuri Shekar.

Exit Wounds and Confederates moved on to LA productions at Grove Theater Center with Exit Wounds awarded the Gold Medallion. Both productions were directed by Christopher Hart with set and costumes by three time Ovation nominee Leonard Ogden; lights by Ovation nominee David Darwin; and sound by Hunter Stephenson. They were produced by Kevin Cochran, Charles Johanson and Christopher Hart..

The other Finalists were:
El Ciclope by Alex Paul Burkat with Octavio Rodriguez
Memorial Day by Paul Donnelly
The Patron Saints by Ken Jaworowski
Where Storms Are Born by Harrison David Rivers
…and Semi-Finalists:
A Perfect Gentleman by Herbert Appleman
Bureaucrazy by Kate Danley
Close Harmony by Judy Goetz Sanger
Cufflinked by Cary Pepper
It’s Not About the Cat by Jacey Powers
Mad Beat Hip & Gone by Steven Dietz
Mr. Teddy by George Smart
Older Lady by Erin Buckley
Pooka by James McLindon
Rainbow’s Return by Stephen Mo Hanan
The Perfect Wife by Karen L. Lewis
The Spanish Prayer Book by Angela J. Davis
These Arms of Mine by Philip W. Hall

Note: The Hart NPI is currently on an indefinite hiatus. Initially, the Covid restrictions hit us very hard since full productions in front of a live audience and development work happening in both LA and NYC are integral to the program. Travel and performance, two things not possible to do safely during the pandemic!

As restrictions were eased, we realized how tough it was for even established theaters to return to normal operations. As a new kid on the block, we don’t want to take any resources away from those companies struggling to continue. At this point, it is unclear when Hart NPI may return.