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What is the McCarter LAB?

The McCarter LAB is a year-round creative incubator that provides key support to writers at all stages of their careers - cultivating meaningful artistic relationships and original works for McCarter’s main stages and future co-productions. Fostering the development of new plays, adaptations, musicals and investigations into the classics, the LAB consists of: readings, workshops, the Sallie B. Goodman Artist Retreat, commissions, and the annual Spotlight Production. It also provides McCarter’s audiences with an exclusive window into the creative process.

The LAB allows McCarter to take artistic risks, whether giving a first production to an emerging script, or allowing an experienced playwright to return to his/her creative roots. Each LAB project receives financial and artistic support, tailored to the specific needs of the collaborating writers, composers, directors, designers, and performers. Most LAB programs take place in the intimate and flexible 70-90 seat performance studio/rehearsal room located within the Roger S. Berlind Theatre.

Read more about LAB programs, below.


Upcoming Events


The Princeton and Slavery Plays
Directed by Carl Cofield
November 18-19, 2017

This fall, McCarter will present a reading of new 10-minute plays, commissioned in conjunction with a significant and timely community endeavor: the national public rollout of The Princeton and Slavery Project.Spearheaded by Martha Sandweiss (Princeton History professor and author of Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line), this initiative examines how the history of Princeton University is entwined in the institution of slavery.  Years of research, archives, and detailed findings will be made public in the fall of 2017, and McCarter is among a prestigious roster of non-profits that have been asked to play a lead role in this project, along with the Princeton Public Library, and the Princeton University Art Museum. Commissioned writers will craft individual 10-minute plays in response to the poignant research, testimonials and archives. They will have access to historical documents, letters, and artifacts and will meet with Princeton community members and leaders who have/had a personal connection to this history.
Click for more information and bios 


LAB Programs

McCarter theatergoers get an inside peek at the evolution and aesthetic of a new work through the annual Spotlight Production, while artists receive the support of a major theatrical institution as they continue to develop their work in a flexible and tailored environment - without the pressure of a main stage or NYC premiere. 

More than a reading or workshop, this small-scale production affords playwrights and directors the important opportunity to deepen their collaborative experience over an extended rehearsal period, incorporate basic design elements, and see the work staged in front of an audience.

As part of its robust LAB programming, McCarter offers artist commissions to playwrights whose stories, craft, and voices we deeply believe in and are committed to sharing with our audiences and the wider theatrical community. In addition to a commissioning fee, commissioned artists receive developmental support from McCarter’s artistic staff as well as special opportunities, including invitations to the annual Sallie B. Goodman Artist Retreat.

Current Commissioned Artists: Rachel Bonds, Denis O’Hare, Jiehae Park, and Lisa Peterson.

Berlind Commissioned Artists (in partnership with Princeton University): Christopher Durang, Naomi Iizuka, Sarah Ruhl.

Princeton and Slavery Commissioned Artists: Nathan Alan Davis, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Dipika Guha, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Regina Taylor.

In addition to developmental readings and workshops, there are two LAB events that occur annually: the Sallie B. Goodman Artist Retreat, held at the Palmer House in Princeton, and In the Writer’s Voice, an evening featuring playwrights reading excerpts of their own works-in-progress. Both programs are signature features of the LAB and align with the main values of all of our LAB initiatives by encouraging supportive artistic relationships across generations, providing artist-driven development support, and inviting our audiences to learn more about the creative process.


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The McCarter LAB is supported by a generous grant from The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

We thank the following funders for their meaningful support of McCarter’s New Play Development Program: The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Dramatists Guild Program, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Shubert Foundation and The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

New Jersey State Council on the Arts
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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