The OP 2020 Programs | The Orchard Project


MAY 8, 2020


To all friends, artistic family members, partners, and supporters of the Orchard Project - 

We hope that this finds all in our extended community well and safe.  

The Orchard Project’s success has always been connected to a trifecta of time, space, and artistic support that manifests itself in a world-class community of creators. For the safety of our staff, artists, and supporters, we have cancelled our 2020 Saratoga Springs residencies, but we remain committed to creating an ecosystem of support that rivals those we have provided previously and for which the Orchard Project is so highly regarded by artists. Even though we cannot convene artists this summer, we know this moment — and our artistic community — needs us to push forward rather than pull back. 

Thus, today, we are announcing our adjusted 2020 programs, as well as the names of participating artists and companies. In place of our annual residencies, we are pivoting to a hybrid model for 2020, which will allow the organization to accelerate the work of innovative playwrights and theater companies while keeping staff and artists safe during the current global health emergency. This year will also include the launch of two new labs — a Liveness Lab to explore the nature of live performance right now and an Audio Storytelling Lab to provide support and mentorship to podcast, radio, and immersive audio projects.  

We at the Orchard Project, from our staff to our board to our donors, find extraordinary reward in supporting the bold and impactful work of so many. At this time, such work is at its most needed, we look forward to accelerating as much of it as we can, and are sharing details of these 2020 programs below. 

We look forward to a chance to see you all soon, and likely for the chance for you to be entertained and provoked by the work of the many artists and projects listed below. We wish you all safety, sanity, and creativity, and many thanks for your continued support for bold ideas and new work.

Ari Edelson
Artistic Director
The Orchard Project



Each year, the Orchard Project provides a launching pad for more than 30 new works, providing opportunities for innovative artists, companies, and storytellers to accelerate and refine their ideas at all stages of development. Summer 2020 has four major programs for professionals: a Professional Theatre Lab; the OP Greenhouse, providing year-round collaborative support to emerging theatermakers; an Episodic Lab, providing support, mentorship, and guidance to promising episodic/TV projects; and after a successful early 2020 pilot, a new Audio Storytelling Lab, providing support, mentorship, and guidance to promising podcast, radio, and immersive audio projects. 

In 2020, these labs will occur in two phases: 

  • In a first phase of support, artists, teams and companies will participate in a series of multi-week online labs that will provide structure for development, peer engagement and feedback, and dramaturgical support. This phase will replace the Orchard Project’s traditional labs in Saratoga Springs, NY, and take place over the course of June and July, 2020. 

  • In the program’s second phase of support, participants in all programs will be invited to convene in New York City for a multi-day series of workshops and presentations to occur when safety and circumstances allow.

The announced participants for the 2020 Labs include:

  • PROFESSIONAL LAB (supporting plays, musicals, and physical theatre pieces): Neena Beber/Jessica Hecht/Dionne McClain-Freeney, Kristoffer Diaz/Jaime Casteneda, Krista Knight/Jill Sobule, Zachary Fine and Spymonkey, and Stephen Belber/Jamal Joseph.

  • EPISODIC LAB (support, mentorship and guidance to promising episodic/tv projects): Alex Spieth, Bashir Gavriel, Deborah Stein, Iman Ahmed, Tina Satter/Jess Barbagallo, Sarah Mickelson, Wendy MacLeod, Zackery Alexzander Stephens, Zen Freese & Benjamin Ross Lyerly.

  • ORCHARD PROJECT GREENHOUSE (providing year-round collaborative support for a top notch cohort of creators): Robert Ross Parker, Ellie Heyman, Sarah Gancher, J. Julian Christopher, Maggie Kate Coleman & Erato A. Kremmyda, Susan Soon He Stanton, Billy Recce, Kate Douglas, Soomi Kim.

Information about all lab participants and projects will be posted shortly on, and other participants to be still announced.


As part of the Orchard Project's ongoing commitment to push the storytelling form, it will be supporting a new online-only laboratory called the Liveness Lab. The Liveness Lab will explore how performance can address the questions of “liveness” in the current moment, looking into and far beyond live-streamed video chat. From technical solutions to process-based innovations, the artists and companies participating will explore possibilities, hear from experts in a variety of fields, and examine processes past, present, and future. 

During the first phase of the lab, as many as 15 different makers, teams, and companies will convene through weekly meetings and panels with leading thinkers (e.g. VR experts, app developers in the tech space, immersive event designers, etc). Part think-tank and part greenhouse, this first phase of the lab will culminate in a virtual public online convening (details to be determined by the lab) in mid to late July.

Applications for the lab are free to submit, due on May 15, 2020, and available on