Play Development


The development of new works has been a large part of our mission here at The Actors Studio of Newburyport (TASN). Participating in the three programs described below, writers, actors, directors, and our audiences have the opportunity to participate in this dynamic process.


TASN Short Play Festival 2020

The Actors Studio of Newburyport’s Third Annual Short Play Festival.
The Virtual Edition. .

Our National Call for Submissions went out on January 1, 2020, closing March 1, 2020, and we received 258 blind submissions from 258 Playwrights, hailing from 42 States and 7 foreign countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Ireland, and India.

After several months and 5 rounds of reading, our judges selected 24 semi-finalists, culminating in our unique All Day Sunday Selection Sunday Extravaganza where we narrowed the list to our 10 winners.

Our original intent was to present these plays live in our Black Box theater, but circumstances have changed, so we have created our first Virtual Edition.

ACT ONE OF OUR FESTIVAL – Will begin December 7, 2020, and will be available for one week.

5 plays have been filmed and/or zoom-recorded for your viewing pleasure. They range from laugh-out-loud hysterical to touching tributes, capturing a wide range of human relationships and emotion. All are directed and performed by our amazing universe of Actors Studio talent and written by some of America’s finest Playwrights.

“The Next Ivan Sharansky” by Playwright and TV Producer, Jim Geoghan, stars Camille Garro as Ida and Michael Pingree as Carl, directed by Jack Rushton and filmed and edited by Austin Schofield.

Jim Geoghan is based in LA and has been writing for television since 1980. He is well known as an Executive Producer for The Disney Channel and his play “Only Kidding” ran for 500 performances off-broadway.

“I Wish……” by Playwright Judith Strang-Waldau, stars Shannon Muhs as Cecily, Beth Randall as Tuppence the Cat, and Brad Ritchie as Harold directed by Sherry Bonder, and Zoom-recorded by Sherry and Jack Santos.

Judith Strang-Waldau lives in Rhode Island and has been produced in Newburyport multiple times, including The Firehouse Center for the Arts’ New Works Festival and The Actors Studio’s 2nd Annual Short Play Festival. She is a member of Newburyport’s Weekend Writer’s Workshop and The Studio’s Writers and Actors Group.

“When I Fall in Love, It Will Be……” by Playwright Susan Middaugh, stars Jack Santos and Astrid Lorentzon and is directed and recorded by this talented duo.

Susan Middaugh lives in Maryland, is a member of the Dramatists Guild and at least twenty-two of her short plays have been performed at dozens of theaters in the US, Canada, and England.

“Family Secrets” by Playwright Emily McClain is directed by Sherry Bonder and recorded by Sherry Bonder and stars Sherry as Suzanne, Kathy Weinstock as Irene, and Astrid Lorentzon as Madame Christie.

Emily McClain is a theater educator, actor, director, and playwright from Atlanta, Georgia, and many of her short plays have been produced all over the country.

“Meet Millie” by Playwright Amana Sage Comerford, directed by Jack Rushton, filmed and edited by Austin Schofield, stars Maureen Daley as Mom, Terry Blanchard as Dad, and Shannon Muhs as Millie.

Amanda Sage Comerford is based in New Jersey, works extensively with the New Jersey Play Lab, and several of her works have appeared Off-Broadway.

HOW TO ACCESS: Our YouTube Link will be emailed to you once you have registered.  It will not be ‘LIVE’ until December 7 for one week, through December 13. To sign-up, please visit our Registration Page.

You may pay the $10 fee via the PayPal Pay Now button.  If you wish and are able, Donations may be made via the PayPal Donate button.

ACT ONE will be available for one week. View as many times as you want!

ACT TWO will be available early January, 2021.  Stay tuned.

Please join us for these terrific short plays by some of America’s most prolific playwrights. AND STAYED TUNED for ACT TWO, featuring plays by Rich Orloff, Marjorie O’Neill-Butler. Jessica Moss. Lonnie McGuire, and Audrey Webb. Thank you!

TASN has been an award-winning 50 seat black box in historic Newburyport, Massachusetts. This Festival will be sponsored by our Weekend Writers Workshop who collectively have been produced at more than 200 venues around the country, including The Boston Center for the Arts, The Huntington Theater, The Boston Playwrights Theater, The Players Ring, The Theater Artists Workshop, The Greenwich Theatre Company, North Park Vaudeville, The Fusion Theater, The Vortex Theater, The Durango Arts Center, Silver Springs Stage Co,, The Player’s Theater, The LIC Secret Theater, and the list goes on…

This Short Play Festival is brought to you by playwrights, for playwrights, and will be directed and directed and performed by our amazing TASN talent.
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Holiday Meshugas 2020


Holiday Meshugas will happen in 2021 as we are excited to present Jack Neary’s First Night as our 2020 holiday production.


We’re also planning to present Extended Holiday Meshugas in December of 2021. This is not yet an official call for submissions. We’re sending this out as an encouragement to all who wish to write for Extended Holiday Meshugas in 2021. We invite you to spend time while experiencing the Holidays to observe as a writer, think like a writer, steal special moments (like all good writers do), so that we will have a collection of excellent new scripts to present to our audiences next year.  As in past years, we consider all holidays from all traditions that occur beginning around Thanksgiving and running through Epiphany (January 6) as part of Holiday Meshugas.



For any inquiries, please email

Founded in 2003 by Leslie Powell & Hailey Klein, this group is dedicated to the incubation of emerging new plays. Once a month, TASN hosts an evening workshop for cold readings of scripts in various stages of development. Writers bring copies of their piece, a maximum of 10 pages (ten minutes), and enough copies for all participating actors. The actors who are present that evening take on the roles as a cold reading. The reading is then followed by a moderated talk back, providing feedback to the writer. People are encouraged to share what did and did not work for them. Writers may provide questions where they are looking for feedback on specific aspects of their work.

The limit is four (4) pieces per so that everyone’s piece gets a fair share of attention. Each month fills up fast, so please let us know ASAP if you would like to be on the roster as a writer. We encourage all writers to show up whether you have something being read or not, as your feedback is greatly valued.

Actors, this is made possible in large part thanks to your invaluable participation. In order to help us plan for the evening, please let us know ahead of time, if possible, if you will be attending.
Writers and actors interested in participating, please email Hailey Klein:

Suggested donation $10 accepted at the door.



Established in 2006, NSRTC presents six readings a year at TASN. On the second Saturday in the months of October, November, December, March April, & May, new plays from local and regional playwrights are presented in a Readers Theatre setting before an audience, followed by a moderated talkback. This provides playwrights an essential step in play development, and gives local actors and directors the opportunity to work in the Readers Theatre style. A number of plays in the series have won awards and have been produced locally and internationally. Submissions can be emailed to:



For any inquiries, please email

A professional theater laboratory experience designed to advance the development of new works. TASN annually produces one new work that has gone through the stages of play development described above.*  This production is full-scale in terms of sets, costumes, lighting, and staging. It differs from a premier because the play remains eligible for entry into contests and festivals around the world. The director and cast work with the playwright, getting the play on its feet in a physical setting to see what works and what doesn’t before the play makes its actual premier.

* In an effort to provide maximum opportunities to our community members, we occasionally make an exception for a play that comes through another source. If you would like to submit a work for consideration, contact Marc Clopton at or 978.465.1229