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 – was available December 7-13, 2020.

5 plays were filmed and/or zoom-recorded for your viewing pleasure. They ranged from laugh-out-loud hysterical to touching tributes, capturing a wide range of human relationships and emotion. All were 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.


ACT TWO OF OUR FESTIVAL – will be available January 18-24, 2021.

Location, Location, Location” by Playwright, Rich Orloff, is directed by Marc Clopton, Zoom-recorded by Marc and Jack Santos, starring Kari Cretella-Nickou as Michelle and Sandy Farrier as Roger.

Rich Orloff has authored over a dozen one-acts and 80 short plays that have received over 2000 productions on six continents, including a staged reading in Antarctica! His short comedies have been published seven times in the annual Best American Short Plays series and four times in the annual Best Ten-Minute Plays anthology. This is Rich’s third consecutive appearance in our Festival.

Finding Help” written by Marjorie O’Neill-Butler, is directed and recorded by Jack Santos, starring Maureen Daley as Evelyn, Madeline Sherwood as
Daphne, and Brad Ritchie as Michael.

Marjorie O’Neill-Butler is an Actor, Voiceover Artist, Director, Choreographer, Artistic Director, Stage Manager, Company Manager, Dramaturg, Playwright, and Private Coach. Dozens of her plays have been performed in at least 29 states and around the world.

Buried” by Playwright, Audrey Webb, is directed and recorded by Ashley Risteen and Peter Leonard-Solis, starring Ashley as Chloe and Peter as her brother, Tyler.

Audrey Webb holds an MFA in dramatic writing from Texas State University and was recently named the Grand Prize Winner in the LGBTQ Screenwriting Competition for her one-hour police procedural “Dead Name.”  She’s the 2018 recipient of the Judith Barlow Prize for her one-act play The Only Hills We’ve Ever Had, and her play “Buried” was part of the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival in NYC also in 2018.

And One More Thing” by Playwright Lonnie McGuire is directed and recorded by John Budzyna and stars Marc Clopton as Franklin and Susan Hern as Rose.

Lonnie McGuire – Dozens of Lonnie’s plays have been performed around the country, but his first play was written in response to a personals ad entitled “Struggling Actress seeks Number One Fan”. To impress the actress, Lonnie responded in the form of a comic script, fantasizing about a first meeting where she would be interviewing men. It worked. Lonnie got the actress and he got married… Lonny says: Be careful what you write for!

In The Attic” by Playwright Jessica Moss. Directed by Marc Clopton and recorded by Jack Santos, stars Adair Rowland, Sammy Boyd (all the way from England), Astrid Lorentzson, Allan Haley, and John Budzyna.

Jessica Moss is a performer, writer, and producer from Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at The Juilliard School. She is the creator/performer of many solo shows via her company, Theater Mischief.

HOW TO ACCESS: Our YouTube Link will be emailed to you once you have registered.  It will not be ‘LIVE’ until January 18 for one week, through January 24, 2021. You will be able to pay the $10 fee via the PayPal Pay Now button.  If you wish and are able, donations will be made possible via the PayPal Donate button.


Register and Pay for Act Two


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

Special thanks to our Playwrights, actors and directors, and to our Zoom-recorders, and film editor, Austin Schofield.

Executive Director: Marc Clopton
Executive Producer: Jack Rushton
Producer and Film Editor: Austin Schofield
Co-Producers: Jack Santos and John Budznya
Stage Manager: Tiffany Bartholomew
Narrator: John Budzyna
Created in partnership with BD Productions.

The Actors Studio of Newburyport is a 501c3 non-profit with all proceeds dedicated to our mission and to supporting new theatrical work from emerging and established playwrights.

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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4th Annual TASN Short Play Festival – 2021


The Actors Studio of Newburyport, MA is dedicated to New Play Development and will be holding its fourth annual Short Play Festival in the Fall, 2021. The submission window opens on January 1, 2021 and closes March 1, 2021, or until 200 plays have been received, whichever occurs first.

Length: 5-15 minutes. Send us your best. There is no theme and no restrictions on content.
Workshops, readings, and several previous productions are okay.
Limit: One play per playwright. There is no fee to submit.

As we enter 2021, we are hedging our bets. It’s possible that we’ll be back on the boards by the Fall, producing and performing live theater in front of our wonderful audiences. It’s also possible that live theater will remain elusive, shifting to 2022, and that our offerings will remain virtual for the coming year.

So, your play should be easily adaptable to the Zoom format AND be meant for the stage. A play with 10 characters, elaborate settings, and a lot of props, isn’t going to work. A play with four or less characters with simple requirements probably will.

Please email to:

A PDF of your script (PDF’s only) which includes all your contact information. No Bios please. We’d like the work to speak for itself.

In the past, we’ve requested a $5.00 donation per submission. TASN is non-profit and your tax deductible donations have been used to help defray the cost of producing our Festivals which are dedicated to the development of New Work.

If you’d like to male a donation, our mailing address is :(made payable) to The Actors Studio of Newburyport, The Tannery, Mill #1, Suite 5, Newburyport, MA, 01950.

Our judges will participate in multiple rounds of reading and after 24 semi-finalists are chosen, we will hold an All-Day Selection Sunday, putting all semi-finalists on their feet. The winners will be announced in summer, 2021, with the top-scoring play receiving the coveted Clopton Prize.

This Festival is sponsored by our Weekend Writers Workshop whose playwrights have been produced at more than 250 venues around the country. This Festival brought together by playwrights, for playwrights, and will be directed and performed by our amazing TASN talent. Good luck and see you at the show!

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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