directors in theatre seats

New Works Initiative

Now Accepting Submissions for 2019/2020!

please see Submission Announcement below

The New Works Initiative (NWI) is an Artist-in-Residence program and developmental platform in the Department of Theatre and Dance in Montclair State University’s College of the Arts. NWI’s mission is to bring together established and emerging playwrights, composers, choreographers, theatre-makers, and professional directors with Montclair State University theatre students to explore adventurous theatrical works.

The New Works Initiative is made possible through the generous support of Bob and Holly Gregory.

2018 – 19 New Works Initiative

woman greeting sunrise

by Guadalís Del Carmen
Directed by Melissa Crespo
Even though Katya and Fanya are sisters raised in the same rich and aristocratic home, their experiences are worlds apart. With their country on the cusp of a revolution, the sisters take separate paths to fight for their country’s future. Having the odds against them, both make drastic choices that will forever change their relationship. With one sister sacrificing her life and the other sacrificing her livelihood, the fate of their beloved country ultimately lays in their hands.

Guadalís Del Carmen featured in June 2018 in The Theatre Times article: “AFRO-LATINX, FRONT AND CENTER: AN INTERVIEW WITH GUADALíS DEL CARMEN.”


Currently based in NYC, Carmen’s first play, Blowout, was produced by Aguijón Theater in 2013. In 2014, she was one of eight early career playwrights to be chosen to form El Semillero, a playwright writing group curated by ALTA (Alliance of Latino Theater Artists) in residency at Victory Gardens Theater. My Father’s Keeper was developed through El Semillero and was a semi-finalist in Quick Silver Theater Company’s 2018 Playwrights of Color Summit.

Guadalís’ play, Tolstoy’s Daughters, was part of UrbanTheater Company’s 2015 R.A.W. (Real Aggressive Writing) Series. Tolstoy’s Daughters went on to be selected as a finalist in Quick Silver Theater’s Playwrights of Color Summit which culminated in a public staged reading in Geneva, NY in June 2016. In 2017, Tolstoy’s Daughters would go on to be selected as one of 50 Playwrights Projects Best Unproduced Latino/a Plays and received an Honorable Mention in the Kilroys List. Her play, Anacaona and Yemayá Taught Me… was a semi-finalist in The Playwrights Realm’s 2017-2018 Writing Fellowship and was originally written through The Brooklyn Generator. Guadalís has written for the One Minute Play Festival Chicago and NYC, CastandLoose Live! Not So Buenos Aires at Joe’s Pub, and Black Lives, Black Words Chicago. Guadalís is also a Seattle Public Theatre’s 2017 Emerald Prize nominee.

Melissa Crespo is a NYC based director of theater, opera and film. Recent credits include: mj kaufman’s eat and you belong to us (NYU Tisch), Vid Guerrerio’s ¡Figaro! (90210) (The Duke on 42nd Street & LA Opera), Karen Zacarías’ Destiny of Desire (Garden Theatre), Stupid Fucking Bird (NSKI, Norway), The ABC Talent Showcase and Tar Baby written and performed by Desiree Burch with Dan Kitrosser and winner of the Scotsman Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Upcoming: World Premiere of Nathan Louis Jackson’s Brother Toad (Kansas City Repertory Theatre), In the Blue Hour by Martina Potratz and Pedro Pan: The Musical by Rebecca Aparicio & Stephen Elkins. Melissa is an alum of the Drama League Director’s Project, Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage, Van Lier Directing Fellow at Second Stage Theatre and a current Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women’s Project Theatre. She received her MFA in Directing from The New School for Drama.

New Works Initiative 2017 -18:

World Premiere of a new commissioned play by Jeff Talbott

Directed by Wes Grantom

chalkboard reading civics and humanities for non-majors

People got it together to write the Constitution, so why can’t two student action groups get a single sentence on paper to form a charter? Finding the right words can be the hardest thing in the world. Two stories. One story. Their story. Our story. A thorny comic drama about getting things started.

Department of Theatre and Dance
L. Howard Fox Theatre

  • Wed, April 18 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Thu, Apr 19 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Fri, Apr 20 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Sat, Apr 21 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Sat, Apr 21 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Sun, Apr 22 – 2:00 p.m.
Cast of Civics and Humanities for non-majors
Cast of CIVICS AND HUMANITIES FOR NON MAJORS making their own charter in the rehearsal room.

Critics rave about Jeff Talbott’s recent premiere /i/ at the Pioneer Theatre:

“Talbott’s script is sharp and perceptive, savvy about the ways that technological advances inevitably come with consequences… While it might be unfair to say too much to a potential viewer about what “i” is about, it’s the kind of thought-provoking theater that’s exactly right for the kind of person who’s willing to turn themselves over to the artists.”

City Weekly, Scott Renshaw

“Subtle and witty commentary on how the world interacts with technology and the possibilities and dangers of its evolution serve as an intriguing lead to the story, but the intense and emotional dialogue about the complexities of human relationships is what really connects the audience to her story and gives it meaning. Compelling…”i” offers a big truth for audiences to walk away with.”

Deseret News, Aubrey Eyre

“i” is a complete delight… Surprising for its originality and intriguing for its structure, “i” is deeply gratifying theater.”

Broadway World, Blair Howell

“Gripping… “i” defies genre labeling and yet feels familiar; it is engaging and thought-provoking… The most moving, accurate and impassioned portrayal of absolute heartache that I have ever seen on a stage… It isn’t every day a new play makes you really consider some heavy and heady questions, and it’s even rare when questions are posed without an agenda. “i” asks a lot, but it never tells you what you should think or how you should feel.”

Utah Theatre Bloggers, Megan Crivello


Jeff Talbott’s play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award and was produced off-Broadway by MCC Theater; it went on to receive the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for New American Play.  The Gravedigger’s Lullaby received its world-premiere production in March 2017 off-Broadway with TACT at Theatre Row.  Three Rules for the Dragon and A Public Education were both finalists for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference.

His plays (including iElliotAll the Stars in the Midnight Sky and How to Build a City) have received workshops and readings at MCC Theater, Premiere Stages, Chicago Shakespeare, Pioneer Theatre, TACT, Crowded Outlet and Route 66.  He writes musicals with composer Will Van Dyke.  Their work includes:  Imagine Harry (NAMT Festival of New Musicals), Wintersong (Goodspeed’s Johnny Mercer Writers Colony) and the just-completed Seven Broken Hearts.  They have released an EP (A View of the River) and a single (A New Year, recorded by Annaleigh Ashford), both available on iTunes or wherever digital music is sold.  Jeff is a member of TACT and graduated with honors from the Yale School of Drama.

Wes Grantom (Director) is thrilled to develop brand new work with Jeff Talbott after collaborations on four of this other plays.  Recent directing credits include Toxic Avenger by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro at Pittsburgh CLO, Lone Star Spirits by Josh Tobiessen with Crowded Outlet, Eager to Loseby Matthew-Lee Erlbach at Ars Nova, The Cloud by Matt Moses, The Steadfast by Mat Smart, Mine by Bekah Brunstetter for Slant Theatre Project.

Wes has a number of Broadway credits as resident and associate director, working alongside James Lapine, Emma Rice, John Rando, Anthony Page and Rufus Norris. He is a recipient of multiple Drama League Fellowships, a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab, a graduate of the University of Evansville and the Artistic Director of Crowded Outlet, based in Queens.


NWI Submission Announcement:

2019/2020 NWI Artist-in-Residence: Seeking a playwright, theatre maker/deviser, composer/ lyricist or choreographer for a new full-length work in progress that has been partially developed but not yet fully produced. Potential commissions will also be considered. Artistic collaborators may apply as a team. NWI is particularly seeking stories and voices from under-represented communities in the theatre.

Fall 2019 Developmental Workshop culminating in a staged reading at a New York City theatre (two to four week rehearsal period).

Spring 2020 Full Production in the main stage department season, venue and budget appropriate for the demands of the piece (minimum four week rehearsal period).

Venues include:

  • Alexander Kasser Theatre, a state of the art 500-seat proscenium theatre
  • Memorial Auditorium, a 988-seat proscenium theatre
  • L. Howard Fox Theatre, a flexible black box
Artist(s) fee to be determined by the scope of the project.


  • Preferable minimum of 10 performers
  • Age appropriate roles for undergraduate actors
  • Innovative form and content

Submissions of Complete or In-progress Works:

Please submit proposal, artist’s statement, resume and/or CV, project description, cast breakdown, and a sample of the work (video, text, or other format). All submissions will be curated by the NWI Committee.

Submissions for Commissioned Works:

Please submit an artist’s statement, resume and/or CV, detailed project concept and description for the proposed work including projected cast size, and a representative complete work (text or video). Evidence of other produced work or work in development appreciated but not required.
Send submissions to