Banner showing Image from The Watson's Go To Birmingham. Caption states Creating The Next Great American Play.

Welcome to LAUNCH PAD!

We started this program in 2005, and are proud to have supported so many great playwrights and plays on their journey from incubation to professional world premiere! The concept of the “Preview Production” is unique in American theater: a fully realized production of a new play without the pressures of the commercial world, the play stays in previews throughout the run of the show, allowing the writer to continue revising as the piece evolves through performance.

We are excited to have you join us for these fresh, provocative, entertaining new plays! Be there from the beginning, and you can say “Hey! I saw that play at UCSB before anyone else.” 

- Risa Brainin, Artistic Director

2020 Events

Prima Materia
a new play by Cheri Steinkellner

Prima Materia was performed in a staged reading on 
Sunday, January 5, 2020 in the Studio Theater.

Directed by Risa Brainin and featuring Daniel Blanco,
Julie Fishell, and Anne Torsiglieri, Prima Materia is a
mother-daughter comedy about death, love, memory,
and making garbage out of gold.

a new play 
by Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta

Fortunes will be performed in a staged reading in March.
Details to follow.

Collections of Nothing More or Less
a new play by William Davies King

Collections of Nothing More or Less will be performed in a
staged reading on April 2, 2020 at 8 pm in the McCune
Conference Room, 6020 HSSB on campus at UC Santa Barbara.

Directed by Risa Brainin and featuring Irwin Appel, Cooper Bruhns,
and Anne Torsiglieri.

This event is part of the IHC's Critical Mass Series. Please read
more about it here.

"A" Train
written & performed by Anne Torsiglieri

"A" Train will be performed at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura in
a World Premiere Run May 6-24, 2020. 

Directed by Risa Brainin and with original music by Brad Carroll.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Rubicon Theater


For updates on the LAUNCH PAD Program like us on Facebook!

Take a moment to flip through the LAUNCH PAD brochure!



"The Summer LAUNCH PAD program at UC Santa Barbara came at the perfect time in the life of my brand new play and provided the space and spirit for hearing the play, listening deeply to the play, and sharing the play.  The students brought an undeniable excitement and commitment to the process and the community who came to the reading brought curiosity and open hearts.  This is a great new works program for writers, for new plays, and for anyone who cares about  experiencing new work in thoughtful ways."

James Still, playwright, (A) NEW WORLD, Summer LAUNCH PAD 2017.


"Risa Brainin assembled a brilliant cast of actors and a first rate production team at LAUNCH PAD 2017 to work on my play, Meanwhile There Are Letters. A week-long series of workshops culminating in two public readings was invaluable to me in stress-testing the script: gauging where it soared and where it faltered, shedding light on obscurity where needed and stripping back on repetition and over-emphasis, and above all, evaluating whether the play worked or not. Happily, it did! I found the experience profoundly rewarding, and would recommend it to any writer who wants to take their work to the next level."

Declan Hughes, playwright, Meanwhile There Are Letters, Summer LAUNCH PAD 2017.

"LAUNCH PAD is a unique opportunity to develop a new work gradually and consistently in a focused environment -- a beautiful sunny ocean side one at that! Risa Brainin, her colleagues and students encouraged me to take risks to keep honing and evolving my play. The attitude was alway "yes" oriented. The work ethic was off the charts as was the positivity and joy for new creation. I could not be more proud of the work we created together."

- Idris Goodwin, playwright, We Want the Funk

"For me, the LAUNCH PAD Reading Series offered another crucial partnership with new plays:  an intensive focus on a work in process with the commitment ON process. For my new play April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream, we found imaginative ways to cast the play (across age, gender, and race) with a mix of students and faculty.  The public sharing was very well attended and I loved the sense from the audience that they were part of something special, something new, something never before heard before."

James Still, playwright, April 4, 1968: Before We Forgot How to Dream

"LAUNCH PAD is a luxury offered to few playwrights: A workshop that also functions as a full-fledged production of your play. Drawing on all the departments and activities that are involved in a regular theater production: costume, set-design, lighting, props, several week rehearsal, lines learnt, full staging, posters, publicity, the works. And it’s still called a workshop so you can go premiere it at another theater... It was just the right combination of feeling safe to explore (it’s a workshop), while being gently prodded to make the kind of decisions you have to make when you’re rehearsing for a “world premiere”.

Yussef El Guindi, playwright, The Talented Ones

"LAUNCH PAD allows the play comes to life for the first time in a safe, genuinely collaborative environment. I loved working with a combination of accomplished theater artists such as Risa Brainin and Anne Torsiglieri, and their talented, dedicated students."

Alison Tatlock, playwright, Untitled IV by Ruth Markofsky

"Risa Brainin asked me to work on her production of Sarah Ruhl's Melancholy Play, and through the auspices of the UCSB Theatre/Dance department, commissioned me to compose a score. It was a great experience to collaborate with her and her talented and devoted students, and that experience led to more collaborations with Sarah in Los Angeles, and more productions of the play using my score over the past few years in Seattle, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, et al. For all of that, I am indebted to Risa.  I am as ever admiring of the good work she does, and well aware how lucky the UCSB community is to have Risa and LAUNCH PAD under her leadership - and would be happy to offer whatever support that I can offer for the great experience it will offer to her students and to the arts in general."

Michael Roth, composer, Melancholy Play

"In my mind, this program creates the next generation of theatre artists, who are sensitive to the new play process and adept at helping draw out the writer's intent. LAUNCH PAD is one of the most exciting new models for new play development in the country because it gives playwrights a much needed opportunity to shape and explore text in the crucible of production... This work is often too risky and time-consuming for professional theatre, and so playwrights are often developing plays in the rarefied air of a reading series or a staged reading/festival. At UCSB, they actually do the play."

John Walch, playwright, The Dinosaur Within

"I loved my time working at UCSB with Risa and the students. It was a nurturing, playful environment where the playwright was listened to."

Sarah Ruhl, playwright, Melancholy Play

"The play has advanced more in the three weeks I have been here than it had in the three years I had worked on it on my own; something I attribute to both the sublime talents of Risa and the cast, and to their indefatigable work ethic and collaborative spirit."

Sheri Wilner, playwright, Kingdom City

"From the start, Risa created an environment that fostered creative freedom, stimulation and absolute exhilaration for all involved. The students' work with me and the Risa, their experience as participant-contributors to the birth of a new play, was a pleasure for me and an eye-opening learning experience for them."

- Barbara Lebow, playwright, La Niñera: The Nursemaid and Plumfield, Iraq.