credit: Kara Q. Lewis

When we began this website, the focus was Center for the New Northwest, a non-profit center for ideas about change. One of the things we wanted to change was Ashland New Plays Festival.

A proud promoter of new works for the stage and the playwrights who write them, ANPF for nearly three decades had been presenting its annual fall festival of new plays selected from many hundreds of submissions. Of them, four were selected each year for concert readings.

Four of many hundreds. Long odds for the aspiring playwright. I thought we could do better. Play4Keeps was the proposed solution.

Nick Canepa, Sound Engineer; Sarah Mitchell, Playwright; James Pagliasotti, Producer (l-r)
Credit: Kara Q. Lewis

Every year, the ANPF artistic director was given a dozen or maybe 15 finalists to choose from. A dedicated group of some 60 readers poured over the submissions, discussed, debated, and rated them. The finalists were worth considering. But only four were selected.

Arguably, they were the four best. Arguably. Many arguments ensued. It was easy to make the case that many of those that weren’t presented were just as good as those that were. 

Nubia Monks, Cedric Lamar, TaiReikca L.A., Chris Butler, Annie Paul (l-r)
credit: James Pagliasotti

I wondered what would happen if we took some of the non-winning finalists and recorded them as audio readings, performed by some of the finest actors in the country who just happened to be working in Ashland at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

In less than 18 months, Center for the New Northwest recorded 30 new plays for ANPF. We also created a series of podcasts featuring playwrights from throughout the country talking about their work.

Artichoke Hearts by Playwright Sarah Mitchell

The upside was a new way for plays to be presented and archived. The downside was the amount of work. It kept me busy. It put this website on hiatus. Now we’re back, but I wanted you to know where we’d been.

credit: Kara Q. Lewis

Play4Keeps now lives on the ANPF website, hiding behind a Podcast button on the menu at the top. It has a lot of good work by some very talented people that you might enjoy hearing. You can find it here.



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