THE WORKSHOP THEATER presents the 7th Annual Out of the Hat Festival

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By  Tracy Mills

December 9, 2021, 7pm through December 13, 2021, 7pm
Zoom reading
Presented by The Workshop Theater (Thomas Coté, Artistic Director;
Philip Callen, General Manager)
Tickets are $10 at

For the 7th Annual Out of the Hat Festival, The Workshop Theater will be presenting 28 newly-commissioned one-act plays, written specifically for 56 actors whose names are randomly drawn “out of the hat” and matched with
the playwrights. The plays will be presented as readings, and will be available from December 9 at 7pm, until December 13 at 7pm on The Workshop’s YouTube channel. Tickets are $10.

Nicole Palermo and Ariel Neema Blake in Diana Burbano’s Mushrooms and Manga

In addition to being randomly assigned two actors, playwrights were also given the prompt word of “home”. (Past prompt words have included “environment” and “luck”, among others.) According to Artistic Director Thomas Coté, “Since its inception in 2015, OOTH has always been anentertaining and thoughtful evening of theater, and watching how the prompt word inspires each of the playwrights is never less than fascinating. With so many of us rethinking what home means in the past two years, the artistic staff thought it was a fitting word for our playwrights to consider this year. And while we all certainly look forward to returning to live theater experiences on a more consistent basis, I have to say that OOTH has really lent itself to the streaming format. It feels good to give a wider audience the opportunity to see all of the plays over a 96-hour period (in this case from “home”), and to give an opportunity to as many artists as possible, no matter where they happen to be calling “home” at the moment. It’s been great spending time with all 84 artists and their creations.”

Erik Kochenberger and Erin Treadway in Aaron Coleman’s Two Characters Trapped in a Zoom Play

OOTH is a collaborative process – playwrights meet with the actors, “interview” them, brainstorm ideas around the prompt word, and then begin to write. No directors are used in the process – the goal is a play driven by the
playwright, and inspired by the prompt word and the actors.

Many of the plays commissioned for past OOTH festivals have gone on to be published, including Natural, Undiscovered Country and Red in the Morning by Dana Leslie Goldstein, Blades by Margo Hammond, and At the Hotel Texas by Laurie Graff.

Philip Callen and Pamela Monroe in Levy Lee Simon’s The Narrative

Currently under the direction of Thomas Coté (Artistic Director) and Philip Callen (General Manager), The Workshop Theater has a long history fulfilling its mission of the rigorous development and production of new American plays and musicals that transport, challenge and surprise both artists and audiences. Notable successes include extensively developing A Peregrine Falls by Leegrid Stevens (“a richly dark and rending drama” The New Yorker), The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee (debuted at The Workshop and became the basis for the Academy Award nominated film “Finding Neverland” and the Broadway musical of the same name) and The Navigator by Eddie Antar (recipient of two Drama Desk nominations).

Photos are courtesy of Thomas Coté.


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