DNA New Work Series

As part of the Playhouse’s commitment to being a home for artists to develop new plays and musicals, Christopher Ashley created the DNA New Work Series in 2013.

Through the DNA Series, playwrights and directors are invited to use the Playhouse’s rehearsal space, staff and resources for several days (or weeks) of intensive work to develop their new project. The development process culminates in series of free, intimate readings and workshops open to Playhouse audiences.

For artists, the DNA process provides the space and support to let their vision and creativity flourish. For audiences, it’s a rare chance to see a new work in its earliest stages and provide feedback that helps artists shape its future development.

In this rewarding program, ten shows have moved from a DNA rehearsal room to full productions at the Playhouse, such as Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & The What and Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown’s Miss You Like Hell – proving that new work is in our DNA.

Interested in DNA?

If you are an artist and would like your play or musical considered for the DNA New Work Series, please send us your work per our submission guidelines.

If you are a theatre-lover interested in attending DNA, the best way to reserve your free ticket is to become a subscriber. Due to the nature of the DNA projects, readings and workshops seats are very limited. Subscribers always get first access to book seats.

Past DNA New Work Series Projects:

DNA 10: Nov 30-3 & Dec 5-10, 2023

By Zakiya Young
Directed by Jacole Kitchen

By Miyoko Conley
Directed by Jesca Prudencio

Written and Directed by Ayad Akhtar

By Peter Kim George
Directed by Kat Yen

59 ACRES (WOW Work-in-Progress)
Created by Marike Splint
In collaboration with Jonathan Snipes and Stewart Blackwood

SOUND PLACE LOVE (WOW Work-in-Progress)
Created by Braden Abraham and Gordon Hempton
Based on recordings by Gordon Hempton, The Sound Tracker
Directed by Braden Abraham

DNA 9: Dec 1-4 & Dec 8-11, 2022

By Keith Bunin
Directed by Christopher Ashley
La Jolla Playhouse Commission

By Idris Goodwin
Directed by Jacole Kitchen
La Jolla Playhouse Commission

By Noelle Viñas
Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

By Lia Romeo
Directed by Pesha Rudnick

DNA 8: July 22-25 & July 29-August 1, 2021

Written by Lisa Sanaye Dring
Directed by Ralph B. Peña

Written by Noah Diaz
Directed by Kat Yen
La Jolla Playhouse commission

not-for-profit (or the equity, diversity and inclusion play)
Written by Francisca Da Silveira
Directed by Reginald L. Douglas

Written by Andrew Rosendorf
Directed by Chip Miller

DNA 7: May 2-5, 2019

Written and Directed by Guillermo Calderón
La Jolla Playhouse commission

The Best We Could (a family tragedy)
By Emily Feldman
Directed by Kate Eminger

Music and Lyrics by Mark Mothersbaugh and Kyle Jarrow
Book by Kyle Jarrow
Based on the novel by Nick Hornby
Skateboard movement by Tony Hawk
Directed by Sean Graney

Jean, Jonah and the Ginger Karl
By Jeff Augustin
Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody

DNA 6: March 22 -25, 2018

Lyrics by David Clement
Music by David Clement with Rob Bailey
Book by Kate Moira Ryan and Doug Wright
Directed by Christopher Ashley

3 Farids
By Ramiz Monsef
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

The Luckiest
By Melissa Ross
Directed by Jaime Castañeda
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse

The Coast Starlight
La Jolla Playhouse Commission
By Keith Bunin
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse

DNA 5: December 9 – 11, 2016

By Zayd Dohrn
Directed by Christopher Ashley

Selling Kabul
By Sylvia Khoury
Directed by Joanie Schultz
Subsequently produced by Williamstown Theatre Festival

Kill Local
By Mat Smart
Directed by Jackson Gay
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse

Child of Colonialism
La Jolla Playhouse commission
By Rehana Lew Mirza
Directed by Jaime Castañeda


DNA 4: February 18 – 29, 2016

Miss You Like Hell
La Jolla Playhouse commission
Book and Lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Music and Lyrics by Erin McKeown
Directed by Lear deBessonet
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse, The Public Theater, American Repertory Theater / Company One, Fonseca Theatre, Olney Theatre Center and Park Square Theatre

La Jolla Playhouse commission
By Daniel Beaty
Directed by Christopher Ashley

To the Quick
La Jolla Playhouse commission
By Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Patricia McGregor

Safe at Home
By Gabriel Greene and Alex Levy
Directed Alex Levy
Subsequently produced by Mixed Blood Theatre

The Change Room
By Carly Mensch
Directed by Jaime Castañeda

Like They Magical
By Elizabeth Irwin
Directed Joshua Kahan Brody

El Huracán
By Charise Castro Smith
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Subsequently produced by Yale Repertory Theatre

DNA 3: February 16 – March 1, 2015

How to Be a Rock Critic
Based on the writings of Lester Bangs
By Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen
Directed by Jessica Blank
Subsequently produced by Center Theatre Group, ArtsEmerson, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the Public Theater

The History of American Pornography
By Hilary Bettis
Directed by Kimberly Senior

The Engine of Our Ruin
By Jason Wells
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Subsequently produced at the Victory Theatre Center

Krik? Krac. Or the Last Tiger in Haiti
By Jeff Augustin
Directed Joshua Kahan Brody
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Berkeley Repertory Theatre (under the title “The Last Tiger in Haiti”)

What Happens Next
La Jolla Playhouse commission
In association with Cornerstone Theater Company
By Naomi Iizuka
Directed by Michael John Garcés
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse

By Guillermo Calderón
Directed by Jaime Castañeda
Subsequently produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Canadian Stage Company and ArtsEmerson

Akeelah and the Bee
In association with Children’s Theater Company
Adapted by Cheryl L. West
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Subsequently produced by Children’s Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Virginia Repertory and Adventure Stage Chicago

DNA 2: February 17 – March 2, 2014

Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin
By Michael Benjamin Washington
Directed by Phylicia Rashad
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Kansas City Repertory

Let Me Count the Ways
By Martín Zimmerman
Directed by Christopher Ashley

The Envelope
By Alex Lewin
Directed by Tom Dugdale

By Carey Perloff
Directed by Christopher Ashley

The Brothers Paranormal
By Prince Gomolvilas
Directed by Jeff Liu
Subsequently produced by Asian Repertory Theatre

By Andrew Rosendorf
Directed by Lucy Tiberghien
Subsequently produced by Luna Stage Company

The Smartest Girl in the World
By Miriam Gonzalez
Directed by José Cruz González
Subsequently produced by Childsplay and Imagination Stage

DNA 1: January 24 – March 3, 2013

Chasing the Song
Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music and Lyrics by David Bryan
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse

The Tall Girls
By Meg Miroshnik
Directed by Juliette Carrillo
Subsequently produced by Alliance Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Luna Stage Company and Shattered Globe Theatre

Brahman/i, A One Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show
By Aditi Brennan Kapil
Directed by Jeremy Cohen
Subsequently produced by Mixed Blood Theatre, Company One Theatre, Quantum Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater, Kitchen Theatre Company, About Face Theatre and 1st Stage

The Who & The What
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Subsequently produced by La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Kansas City Rep, Victory Gardens, Round House Theatre, Huntington Theatre, ArtsWest, Milwaukee Rep and Vienna Theatre Project

Being Henrietta
By Monique Gaffney
Directed by Lucie Tiberghien

Orange Julius
By Basil Kreimendahl
Directed by Sarah Rasmussen
Subsequently produced by Moxie Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre/Page 73

The Consultant
By Heidi Shreck
Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Subsequently produced by Long Wharf Theatre and Signal Ensemble Theatre

Daphne’s Dive
By Quiara Alegría Hudes
Directed by Dana Harrel
Subsequently produced by Signature Theatre

The Boy at the Edge of Everything
By Finegan Kruckemeyer
Directed by Jonathan Shmidt
Subsequently produced at a dozen theatres and colleges in the US and Australia

Photo credit: Joshua Torrez (left) and Luis Vega in the 2016 DNA reading of Safe at Home, Photo by Grace Madamba.

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