2019 Boston Project

Now in its third season, The Boston Project is a new works initiative that supports the creation and development of new plays set in Boston, which explore what it means to live in this city at this moment and tap into the full breadth of experiences and identities that make up life in the Hub.

Having been named “Boston’s Best Launch Pad of 2018” by The Improper Bostonian magazine, SpeakEasy’s Boston Project is back for a fourth season, featuring two brand new locally-set plays by playwrights MJ Halberstadt of Brookline and Laura Neill of Brighton.

We are thrilled to announce the return of Phaedra Michelle Scott, a 2017-2018 Boston Project Playwright, who will continue development of her play DIASPORA!.
The three Boston Project playwrights will each receive a commission and will have nine months to write and develop their proposed plays. Throughout the process, SpeakEasy Stage will provide directors and dramaturgs dedicated to each project, research assistance, developmental readings, and other support as needed. The playwrights will also benefit from the input and support of SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault. Work on each play will build toward a two-week developmental workshop, culminating in invited staged readings in June 2019.

Once again this year, The Boston Project has been made possible through funding from the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Thank you again to everyone who applied. The overwhelming response to our call for proposals demonstrates that there are many stories to be told about Boston. Our hope is that this project will put more of them into the theatrical ecosystem.

  • DIASPORA! by Phaedra Michelle Scott

    Sunny, a writer on the edge of success, finds her world shaken when she discovers where she came from. Janae, her niece, is a Black Studies major with a specific set of world views that Sunny does not fit into. Created identity and biological fact all come into question in their journey to find truth, acceptance, and selective honesty.

    Phaedra Michelle Scott is a Boston based writer, dramaturg and director. An all-around Renaissance woman, Phaedra has been a part of the artistic departments of Cleveland Play House, Huntington Theatre Company, and Company One Theatre. Recent dramaturgy credits include Homecoming and Jass (New Harmony Project), Ole White Sugah Daddy (The Boston Project), How Soft The Lining? (Bad Habit Productions), and Can You Forgive Her? (Huntington Theatre Company). Directing credits Include: She: A Choreoplay (HERE Performing Arts), Weightless (TC2), I Don’t Know (Company One), and Every 28 Hours (Company One/MFA). Phaedra is a contributor for WBUR’s The ARTery. She is also the recipient of the Bly Creative Capacity Grant, the Early Career Dramaturgs Grant, the Comegys Bight Fellowship and the Frederick Douglass Fellowship for her work on August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle. She also crochets, is a journalist, and enjoys obscure history.


  • THE USUAL UNUSUAL by MJ Halberstadt

    True Colors, Boston’s last remaining queer bookstore, has managed to stay afloat even as other bookstores and gay establishments have withered in the shadows of Amazon and Grindr. It faces an identity crisis after Coach, the store manager, offers Charlie, his de facto son, a leadership role. The staff considers a business opportunity from a questionable tastemaker, and scramble to create a unified message while unprecedented turnover threatens to undermine decades of progress.

    MJ Halberstadt escaped Long Island to study theatre in Boston, which he did at Emerson College, Boston University, and by trying stuff out. His full-length plays include Losersnot JennyThat Time the House Burned DownTwo Below Zero; and (We Are) The Antarcticans. His work, which usually examines Antarctica, LGBTQ experiences, and hierarchies of privilege and oppression, has been produced by Bridge Repertory Theater, Fresh Ink Theatre, and Boston Teen Acting Troupe — and developed with Company One Theatre, Flat Earth Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Pingree School, and NOMTI.

    His writing has been honored with an Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding New Script, a Huntington Playwriting Fellowship, and now a commission as part of the 2019 SpeakEasy Boston Project.

    Mr. Halberstadt is an adjunct professor of writing for stage and screen at Emerson College and Merrimack College, a Founding Playmaker Emeritus of Bridge Repertory Theater, a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc., and a passionate knitter. Visit his website here.

  • JUST CAUSE by Laura Neill

    When the abandoned T tunnel under Government Center is re-discovered, Blue Star LLC buys it from the city to build (what do you think?) luxury condos. Minimum-wage security guards Harry and Sammy keep watch for squatters, archaeologist Em scrambles to preserve the tunnel’s history, and Ava (aka the inevitable white liberal) stages periodic sit-ins to protest. But when Something approaches from the darkness of the tunnel, the Blue Star suits start to wonder if there really is a downside to gentrification…

    Laura Neill is a Boston-based playwright and educator. She is completing her MFA in Playwriting at Boston University, and her play Winter People will be produced at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in December 2018.

    Previous productions include DIVAS, commissioned and premiered by OperaHub; Skin and Bones, workshopped with the Wilbury Theatre Group; and Don’t Give Up the Ship, premiered by Fresh Ink Theatre. Laura was an affiliate of the 2016 Company One PlayLab, and she was the WomenWorks playwright-in-residence at the University of Tulsa in 2017. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the New England New Play Alliance, for whom she co-edited the New England New Play Anthology with Patrick Gabridge.   Laura taught Creative Writing at Boston University this past spring and will teach Introduction to Theatre at Boston College in Spring 2019.

    Visit her website here or read her work here.