Primary Stages

Six Reasons to Choose Fordham/Primary Stages for your MFA in Playwriting

Built on the collaborative strength of two New York City theater organizations, the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA program in playwriting offers emerging writers the opportunity to develop and produce original work under the guidance of respected industry professionals.
Here are six things that make this program special:

1. Advantages of a professional environment

You’ll have the opportunity to work directly with industry professionals, like Primary Stages Founder Casey Childs.

2. Investment in students as artists and professionals

Our students leave our classes knowing not just how to write a great play, but also how to manage the business of making a living as a writer.

3. Individual attention from professors

With only two writers accepted each year, you’ll benefit from personal attention throughout the program.

4. Opportunities for artistic growth

Fordham’s theater program has a successful history of artist training.

5. Real world experience in New York City’s theater industry

Your two-year program culminates in a public production of a full-length play at an Off-Broadway theater venue.

6. Support of Artistic vision

Primary Stages has been supporting, nurturing, and sharing the art of new American playwriting for over 30 years.
Think our MFA program might be a good fit for you? Learn more here.

Look who attended Gala 2015!

The annual Primary Stages Gala is our opportunity to honor leading members of the theater community. This year, we were proud to honor Tony and Grammy award-winning composer and lyricists Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman at the Primary Stages 2015 Annual Gala at 583 Park Avenue.

The event featured musical numbers from Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and the TV show “Smash” and performances and tributes from Obie winner Bridget Everett, Ana Gasteyer, Annie Golden, Jackie Hoffman, Tony winner Nathan Lane, Caissie Levy, Tony winner Billy Porter, Tony winner Marc Shaiman, Aaron Tveit.

Photos by Stavros Panopulos, Hechler Photographers.

Thank you so much to everyone who made our 2015 Gala a huge success! For more information about supporting Primary Stages, please visit our website.

Catching up with Kelly Hutchinson

Kelly Hutchinson

Lives of the Saints is a collection of six short plays by David Ives. If you could pick one of these worlds to live in, which would you choose and why?

If I could pick a world to live in I honestly think it would be the 1950s land of Soap Opera mostly because I would get to wear awesome clothes and tiny pill box hats.

In one of the short plays, you play a woman with a doppelganger. If you had your own double in real life, what kind of trouble would you get into together?

If I had a doppleganger I would probably just have my double do all of the logistics of running my life – you know, paying bills, doing taxes, returning emails, while I lie cave like in my bed watching horrible trash television (I’m looking at you “Vanderpump Rules”!)

Primary Stages - Lives of the Saints

(from left) ARNIE BURTON, RICK HOLMES, KELLY HUTCHINSON, and LIV ROOTH in Lives of the Saints. (c) 2015 James Leynse Primary Stages production of Lives of the Saints by David Ives, directed by John Rando at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.

In another of the plays, a man meets another iteration of himself where he chose another path in life. If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing with your life?

Well, I’m a writer as well so I’d probably be doing that. OR I would be a detective. But without the dangerous parts. I’d like to be a female Hercule Poirot. Sailing on French cruise ships while pointing fingers at would be poisoners. That would be the life!

You’re married to fellow Lives of the Saints cast member Rick Holmes. What’s the best advice you can give husband and wife teams who work together?

We just feel really lucky cuz we goof around, talking in accents and wearing wigs at home, and now we get to do it in front of people. Also, always make sure to stay out of his light.

There are six short plays in Lives of the Saints. Describe the evening in six words.

Friendship. Love. Second Chance. Faith. Wigs.

See Kelly in Lives of the Saints, playing now through March 27, 2015 at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street. Tickets can be purchased online at or at, by phone at 646-223-3010, or at the box office.

Meet Sharon Washington

Get to know actor Sharon Washington, who plays Eva in the Primary Stages production of Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live.

S. EPATHA MERKERSON and SHARON WASHINGTON in While I Yet Live. (c) 2014 James Leynse Primary Stages production of While I Yet Live by Billy Porter, directed by Sheryl Kaller at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.

S. EPATHA MERKERSON and SHARON WASHINGTON in While I Yet Live. (c) 2014 James Leynse Primary Stages production of While I Yet Live by Billy Porter, directed by Sheryl Kaller at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.

Tell us a little about your character, Eva.

I’ve based my character Eva’s relationship with Maxine (played by S. Epatha Merkerson) on the relationship between my mom and her sister, my Aunt Millie. Even though Eva and Maxine are not sisters, the dynamic is similar.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Cooking two turkeys so everyone gets to have their favorite part. And even though I never really liked the taste, I loved the look on the table of the glazed ham covered with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries in the center. There was a prop ham made for this production that we had in rehearsal. It looked exactly like that but got cut during tech week. I miss it. I’m hoping to take it home as a souvenir.


A Chat with Sheria Irving

Get to know actor Sheria Irving, who plays Tonya in the Primary Stages production of Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live.

SHERIA IRVING in While I Yet Live. (c) 2014 James Leynse Primary Stages production of While I Yet Live by Billy Porter, directed by Sheryl Kaller at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.

SHERIA IRVING in While I Yet Live. (c) 2014 James Leynse. Primary Stages production of While I Yet Live by Billy Porter, directed by Sheryl Kaller at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.

Tell us a little about your character, Tonya.

In While I Yet Live, Tonya is the unrestricted raconteur. She’s the only player that fosters a relationship with the audience, with whom she divulges her truth and takes on a trip down memory lane. Tonya’s memories aren’t all pleasant and become weapons that constantly assault, enrage, disappoint and empower her throughout the life of the play. She’s like so many of us trying to reconcile the past in order to press forward to our future.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Since my undergraduate years at Florida State University, my dearest friends and I have created our own thanksgiving tradition. Each year I make my special slow-baked turkey and gather with my best buddies to share what we are thankful for, eat, drink and laugh the day away.

How did you approach the play and your character? Were there any surprising discoveries about your character during the rehearsal process?

What surprised me most about working on Tonya was how similar her religious upbringing is to my own. Like Tonya, I was raised never to question God. Tonya’s family believe in God and the Bible unequivocally, which leaves no room for her to explore her own beliefs. Tonya, however, decides to make room and as she matures develops her own understanding of the world and determines her relationship with God on her own terms.

Performances run through October 31st at The Duke on 42nd Street.  To order tickets online, click here.  Or you can call the box office at (646) 223-3010.


We caught up with Wig and Hair Designers Rob Greene and J. Jared Janas on their process and inspiration behind some of their designs for While I Yet Live.

WIYL Wig Design 2

Jared Janas and Rob Greene fit Kevyn Morrow for a beard wig.

We got some great pictures of you measuring cast members for their wigs. What is that process like?

The process of measuring an actor’s head for a wig involves only a few simple items; a heavy duty clear plastic bag, heavy clear tape, a Sharpie and a measuring tape.

After the actor’s hair has been prepped as it would be for the actual performance, the plastic bag is placed on the head and held down by the actor.  The clear tape is then used to tape the bag so that it forms to the actor’s head.  The actor’s hairline is then traced onto the bag, and finally multiple measurements are taken.  Once the bag is removed from the actor’s head, it is in the shape of the head, and combined with the measurements, the mold can been used to stuff out a block (a canvas head) so that it is the exact shape and size of the performer’s head. A wig can now be built or fit for that specific person on that block.

WIYL Wig Design 1

Tell us a little bit about how you went about designing the wigs for this show?

To begin designing this show, first we read the script. This is one of the few scripts we’ve read that has so many specific wig notes in the actual script – not just in the line notes, but in the actual dialog as well. In some sense, [Playwright] Billy Porter made our jobs a little easier by being so specific.


Meet the Cast of Poor Behavior

On  Thursday, July 17th, the cast of Poor Behavior met the press.  The actors and director had the opportunity to be interviewed about their experience working on the show, and hearing their responses made us even more excited to see them perform!  Poor Behavior begins previews on July 29th, and we can’t wait for this wonderful cast to start their run at The Duke on 42nd Street.

The Cast and Director of Theresa Rebeck's Poor Behavior

Jeff Biehl, Evan Cabnet, Brian Avers, Heidi Armbruster and Katie Kreisler.

Andrew Leynse, Casey Childs, Elliot Fox Logo

Primary Stages Artistic Director Andrew Leynse, Founder and Executive Producer Casey Childs, and Managing Director Elliot Fox

Evan Cabnet logo

Evan Cabnet

Heidi Armbrusterlogo

Heidi Armbruster

Jeff Biehl logo

Jeff Biehl

Brian Avers Logo

Brian Avers

Katie Kreisler

Katie Kreisler

Photos by Erin Resnick

Tickets to Poor Behavior are on sale now!  To order, click here!

First Casting Announcement of 2014/15!

We are pleased to announce the casts for the first two shows of our 30th Anniversary Season! Title Treatment copy copyWIYLTitleTreatments Our first show, the New York premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s new comedy, Poor Behavior, is directed by Evan Cabnet (The Model Apartment, A Kid Like Jake) features a cast of faces new to our stage including Heidi Armbruster, Brian Avers, Jeff Biehl and Katie Kreisler.   PoorBehaviorHeadshotStripB&W Heidi Armbruster has been seen in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Disgraced and the film “My Man is a Loser”. Her play Dairyland was also developed in ESPA Drills 2012 Series. Brian Avers appeared in The Explorers Club at MTC and The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Rock N Roll on Broadway. Jeff Biehl was a part of Roundabout’s recent production of Machinal on Broadway and previously appeared in the film, “A Master Builder” and Katie Kreisler recently appeared in Lincoln Center Theater’s premiere of Nikolai and The Others and The House of Blue Leaves on Broadway. We are excited to bring you these talented actors and to welcome them into our Primary Stages family.

For our second production, we will present the World Premiere of While I Yet Live by the Tony-winning star of Kinky Boots and Angels in America, Billy Porter, and directed by Tony Award nominee Sheryl Kaller (Mothers and Sons, Next Fall, Adrift in Macao). This new work will feature Elain Graham (The Picture Box, “Smash”), Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson (Come Back, Little Sheba; “Law & Order”)  Kevyn Morrow (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dreamgirls), Sharon Washington (The Scottsboro Boys, Wild With Happy), Larry Powell (Broke-ology, Dutchman) and Tony Award winner Lillias White (The LifeFela!).

Poor Behavior runs July 29 -September 7, CLICK HERE to get tickets! While I Yet Live runs September 23 – October 31. Both shows will take place at Primary Stages new home, The Duke on 42nd Street.

A week in the life of an ESPA Writer: Kat Ramsburg

Last week submissions were due for ESPA Drills, and it’s a busy time for our writers. ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing staged readings to four Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) playwrights, selected each year from dozens of submissions. Long-time student and playwright Kat Ramsburg offers a peek into a busy but creative week at ESPA, as she works on perfecting her own Drills submission.

ESPA Writers Group

Sunday: The Rewrite with Josh Hecht

My Rewrite class with Josh Hecht is probably the most eclectic group of playwrights I’ve ever had at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). Their plays include a comedy about a vampire looking for love, a May-December romance, two brothers in the Bronx heading in very different directions, an American figuring herself out while teaching English in Thailand, and my play.

It makes for a very lively discussion because we are all such different writers. What impresses me each week, however, is the respect that is shown to one another in class. When you share a room with respectful, intelligent, creative writers, the feedback can get very deep and detailed. Personally, I wasn’t feeling too great about my pages this week. I had changed a major plot point and hadn’t had enough time to fine tune and work out all the new issues that arose from the changes. Frankly, I was embarrassed to present my work, but I shouldn’t have been. Josh employs a great system of giving feedback that allows you to take risks. The feedback isn’t based on the risk, but on breaking down the outcome so you can see where you went astray. I left class with a great map of how I would tackle the scene the next time through.

Monday: Writer’s Group

I have the best writer’s group! I’m fairly certain that some of you may argue that point, but I assure you, yours may be swell, but mine is the greatest!


The 2014 Award Season continues…

In addition to our 2014 Lucille Lortel Award nominations, we are proud to announce that Primary Stages has received three 2014 Drama Desk Award nominations!

Our recent production of The Model Apartment (written by Donald Margulies, directed by Evan Cabnet) is nominated for Outstanding Revival of a Play, while Diane Davis is nominated for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Debby/Deborah.

Diane Davis and Kathryn Grody in The Model Apartment. Photo by James Leynse.

Diane Davis and Kathryn Grody in The Model Apartment. Photo by James Leynse.

Our most recent production, The Tribute Artist, (written by Charles Busch, directed by Carl Andress) is nominated for Outstanding Music in a Play, for the new score composed by Lewis Flinn.

The Tribute Artist

Julie Halston, Cynthia Harris and Charles Busch in Primary Stages 2014 world premiere of The Tribute Artist, now playing at 59E59 Theaters