Banner showing Image from The Watson's Go To Birmingham. Caption states Creating The Next Great American Play.
Spaceship from We Want The Funk
Banner with photo of Missy in What Martha Did
Daffy Cafe

Welcome to LAUNCH PAD...

It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of our dear friend and passionate arts lover, Jan O’Dowd.

Don and Jan O’Dowd have been devoted supporters and friends of the UCSB Theater and Dance Community
for many, many years. We came to know Jan as a warm, generous, caring, loyal and insightful person who we
considered an important member of our LAUNCH PAD family.

We are incredibly grateful to have known Jan, and will miss her so very much. Our hearts go out to Don and the
whole O’Dowd family.

Rest in peace dear Jan. 

“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

Risa Brainin with devoted LP supporters Jan and Don O'Dowd
Risa Brainin with Jan and Don O'Dowd before a LAUNCH PAD performance.
photo of the O'Dowds with Michael Klaers, Risa Brainin and James Still in Denver
Jan rarely missed a LAUNCH PAD event, no matter the time or place!
She and Don traveled to Colorado to see James Still's Appoggiatura
at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in 2015.
(Michael Klaers, Don O'Dowd, Jan O'Dowd, Risa Brainin, James Still)
Don and Jan O'Dowd entering the theater
Don and Jan O'Dowd enter the Studio Theater to
take their permanently-reserved front row seats.

Forever in our hearts...

A Letter from our Artistic Director...


The Department of Theater and Dance and LAUNCH PAD continue to stand with the Black community. We commit to doing our part to support and lift up Black voices through the art we create, the scholarship we provide, and the teaching we impart.

We started LAUNCH PAD in 2005 and are proud to have supported so many great playwrights and plays on their journey from incubation to professional world premiere. And we know we can do better. We make an ongoing commitment to honor and amplify BIPOC voices through workshops, readings, and preview productions.

We are meeting the challenges of 2020 through our rich tradition of innovation and collaboration. Together with UCSB's AMPLIFY, the National New Play Network, and the UCSB Initiative for New and Reimagined Work, we will present the BIPOC Reading Series Festival. Play selection is underway for this new series, to be presented in April 2021.

"Shanghai" by Linda Alper is our Preview Production for the 2020-2021 academic year. 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. The combination of our talented students, faculty, and professional guest artists working side by side makes for a rich experience for all.

We are excited to have you join us for these fresh, timely, provocative, and 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

In The News...

The November 2020 performance of WIlliam Davies King's
Collections of Nothing Enough is Enough is now available for viewing!

Please click here to watch this timely and poignant new play.

LAUNCH PAD playwright, James Still, wins the 2020 Indiana Authors Award!

James Still’s trilogy The Jack Plays is the winner of the 2020 Indiana Authors Award in the Drama category! The plays in the trilogy are The House That Jack Built, Appoggiatura, and Miranda.

Every two years, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards honor the best books written by Indiana authors in eight categories. Established in 2009, these awards celebrate Indiana writers and shine a light on Indiana’s rich and diverse literary programming.  

We are proud to have developed Appoggiatura through a LAUNCH PAD Preview Production in 2013. 

Congratulations, James!

scene from Appoggiatura, a play by James Still (From 2013)

A scene from our 2013 Preview Production of Appoggiatura by James Still.
Cast: Annie Torsiglieri, Irwin Appel. Also featured: Andrea Barborka, Chris Costanzo,
Ian Elliot, Sophie Hassett, Dominic Olivo, Julian Remulla, and Sachi Tanaka.

Dramatic Publishing announces the publication and exclusive licensing of LAUNCH PAD’s Alone, Together Festival of short plays and monologues!

If you are interested in licensing the Alone, Together compilation,
please contact or visit their website.


Upcoming Events...

Details coming soon!


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.

Upcoming Events

Spring 2021 Preview Production


  1. May 19, 2021 - 7:00pm to May 23, 2021 - 1:00pm