The 2016 Boston Project

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

After receiving forty proposals, each representing a distinct and inspiring view of life in our hometown, SpeakEasy Stage Company is ecstatic to announce the selection of TWO playwrights for the 2016 Boston Project: Bill Doncaster, with his proposal for a new play entitled Ward Nine, and Nina Louise Morrison, for Born Naked.

The two selected playwrights will each receive a stipend of $1,000, and spend six months writing and developing their proposed plays with input and support from SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault and SpeakEasy Artistic Associate Walt McGough. The company will provide research assistance and dramaturgical feedback, as well as facilitate check-ins and table reads as the plays take shape. The project will culminate in a two-week developmental workshop and invited staged reading of each play in February, 2016.

The SpeakEasy Boston Project is made possible through generous funding from the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Read more about the plays and playwrights below, and thank you to everyone who submitted. The overwhelming response to our call for proposals demonstrates that there are many stories to be told about Boston, and our hope is that this project will put even more of them into the theatrical ecosystem.

  • BORN NAKED

    BORN NAKED is a tragicomic examination of contemporary independence in the heart of historic Boston. The play centers around Nicky, who loves leading tours as a historical interpreter on the Freedom Trail. When one of her fellow guides commits suicide, her whole world is suddenly turned upside down. She is left to question what freedom means: how we depend on each other, how we stand alone, and how we make our mark on the world.

    NINA LOUISE MORRISON is a playwright, director, and teacher with an MFA from Columbia University. She is a Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellow; a core member of the devising company Project: Project; and a member of Rhombus writers group. Her plays have been read and produced by Company One, Fresh Ink Theatre, 20% Theatre Company, Kitchen Theatre Company, Saltbox Theatre, Our Voices, WOW, Café, SLAM Boston, Wax Wings, Bostonia Bohemia, and the One-Minute Play Festival. She was a semi-finalist for the 2014 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and is the recipient of a Richard Rodgers Fellowship and a Shubert Foundation grant. Before moving to Boston, Nina was the Senior Program Associate at the Philadelphia Theater Initiative. She trained at the National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and the New Actors Workshop, and received her BA from Oberlin College. She currently teaches at the University of New Hampshire and Grub Street.


  • WARD NINE

    WARD NINE centers on Chuckie McGreal, an adult with a cognitive disability who has been happily holding signs, dropping flyers, and stuffing envelopes for local politicians around Ward NINE for as long as he can remember. But now he’s coping with a dying father, knows he can’t live by himself, and doesn’t want to move in with his sister 50 miles away in Derry, NH. It is fortunately election season again, with a hotly contested race for the Ward’s Council seat in a city with constantly changing faces. But no more is Chuckie gleefully holding signs and serving as any candidate’s “good luck charm.” He desperately wants to stay in the neighborhood, close to his friends, his job at the rink, and the steak and cheese subs up at Penziani’s. He’s about to demand payback from those in power for years of helping them get into office. He’s worked hard for them, they said they’d “take care of” him at every election cycle and every victory party, and he’s about to find out what that means.

    BILL DONCASTER is a playwright, producer, and director and co-founder of Stickball Productions. His play Two Boys Lost was a 2015 Elliot Norton Award nominee for Outstanding New Script and Outstanding Production by a Fringe Company, and a 2015 Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) nominee for Best New Play. His adaptation of George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle played to sold out performances first at OBERON , and then again as part of the Emerging America Festival by invitation of the American Repertory Theater in 2012. His short plays have been produced in Boston, New York, Chicago, Louisiana, and Florida, and his short play A Mended Memory was a 2014 Kennedy Center American Theater Festival Region I Finalist. He made his directorial debut in 2012 with Bouncers by John Godber at the “historic” Cantab Lounge. He earned a BFA at Emerson College, MFA at Lesley University, and has nothing but good things to say about two years at North Adams State College. He recently joined the staff of the Performing Arts Department of UMass Boston as Outreach Coordinator.