UCSB Theater/Dance’s LAUNCH PAD program | Photo: Sophia Papalia

From its introduction in 2005 to its recent feature in American Theatre magazine, LAUNCH PAD is back at the University of California, Santa Barbara this summer with free readings of three new plays: Power Trio by Melinda Lopez, Strange Birds by E.M. Lewis, and Everybody’s Favorite Mothers by James Still. All three award-winning playwrights collaborate with a team of students to develop and bring to life their new works, and those interested can come watch the process of developing plays. 

“Every summer we invite three professional playwrights to UCSB to develop their new works in collaboration with a team of talented students. Each play goes through a highly energetic, evolutionary, four-day workshop culminating in a reading for an audience” from Risa Brainin, LAUNCH PAD Founder and Artistic Director. 

Celebrating its 18th year this summer, LAUNCH PAD is something to not be missed, especially for theater lovers. 

“We have found the exchange between experienced pros and young artists creates a magical environment for nurturing new plays, and the audiences attending the readings are an integral part of this vital process!” says Brainin. 

Taking a look into the three plays at hand, each one grapples with differing issues and topics, giving the audience a taste of all different genres of the performing arts. Power Trio, inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, covers immigration, and will also be previewed at UCSB in 2025 before its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, MA. Strange Birds brings its dark comedy to UCSB and combines both humor and mysterious family dynamics. Rounding out the event, Everybody’s Favorite Mothers brings attention to PFLAG and Jeanne Manford and supporting mothers, who in 1973, banded together to support their children when homosexuality was illegal in the United States. LAUNCH PAD will also hold a preview of Everybody’s Favorite Mothers in February 2024. 

Come to the Studio Theater at UCSB on July 21, July 27, and August 3 at 7 p.m. to get a taste of the unique inner workings of plays, especially the dynamic between student and professional. In addition, 30 minutes before each reading, a reception to meet the playwright will occur, and a Q & A with the playwright and student artists will follow the performance. RSVP here to see this magical environment for yourself. 


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