LAUNCH PAD brings playwrights of national stature to UCSB to develop and produce their work side by side with students, faculty artists, and professional guest artists. 

“What Risa Brainin has created at UCSB is entirely rare, but extremely necessary, to the ecology of the American Theatre. By fostering relationships between professional writers and her students, Risa is developing a new generation of advocates for the new play, the contemporary voice, and the inherent value of collaboration. Simultaneously, she is offering some of the most talented playwrights in the country a home in which to safely explore, and providing some of the best production values that exist in the theatre today -- in both the professional and academic spheres.”

- Liz Engelman, Dramaturg and Director of Tofte Lake Center, MN

In its 19th year and featured in American Theatre magazine as a new model of play development in the US, LAUNCH PAD continues a rich tradition of innovation and collaboration.
Once a year, LAUNCH PAD presents a Preview Production, a concept unique in the American theater. As a fully-realized production without the pressures of the commercial world, the new play stays in previews throughout the run of the show, and the writer continues revising as the piece evolves through performances.
LAUNCH PAD also shepherds new plays each year through the Summer Reading Series: New Plays in Process, LAUNCH PAD Pop-Ups, and the LAUNCH PAD Amplify Reading Series Festival.
"Every playwright needs LAUNCH PAD in their lives!! This is a warm and welcoming space to experiment, and hear a brand new play out loud. It's critically important to have this level of support, especially with an early draft of a play. Working with talented students brings new life to every exchange — they see the work through a different lens and offer unexpected insights! The workshops and support have had a profound effect on my writing and how I think about the play. Thank you LAUNCH PAD!"

- Melinda Lopez, Playwright, 2023 Summer Reading Series

LAUNCH PAD is proud to have supported so many great playwrights and plays on their journey from incubation to professional world premieres. 


Artistic Director Risa Brainin talks with Jim Sirianni about LAUNCH PAD's
beginning, her creative process as a director, and how UCSB kept theater
alive during the 2020 pandemic for its students and faculty with the innovative
"Alone, Together" Zoom Festival which live-streamed on June 6, 2020. 
(Click on the image above.)


Since its inception in 2005, LAUNCH PAD has produced 19 Preview Productions by distinguished playwrights:

  • SHE WOLF Margaret of Anjou by Katie Bender
  • A Medusa Thread by Candrice Jones 
  • Shanghai by Linda Alper
  • What Martha Did by Enid Graham
  • The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 by Cheryl L. West
  • Staging the Daffy Dame by Anne García-Romero
  • Bernhard by Lynn Rosen
  • We Want the Funk, a rustbelt lullaby on the one! by Idris Goodwin
  • The Talented Ones by Yussef El Guindi
  • Untitled IV by Ruth Markofsky by Alison Tatlock
  • Appoggiatura by James Still
  • Entangled by Lila Rose Kaplan
  • Biederman's Match by Beau Willimon (book), Michelle DiBucci (music), and Portia Kamons (lyrics)
  • Kingdom City by Sheri Wilner
  • La Niñera: The Nursemaid by Barbara Lebow
  • Plumfield, Iraq by Barbara Lebow
  • The Dinosaur Within by John Walch
  • Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl


(Jim Sirianni interview with Risa Brainin was recorded on May 5, 2020)