Featured in American Theatre magazine as an innovative model of new play development in the US, LAUNCH PAD is a high-tech lab for playwrights- in-residence, aspiring theater students, faculty and guest artists. Led by founding Artistic Director Risa Brainin, a new play is developed each year. The residency culminates in a fully realized “Preview Production.” With a mix of student and professional actors, LAUNCH PAD is collaboration and experimentation in action.

The goal for these extended residencies is three-fold:

  • To intimately expose serious theater students to the working processes of people who make plays for a living every day
  • To provide a safe and fertile environment for artists to boldly explore new ideas.
  • To establish UC Santa Barbara as a magnet for the creation of new work.

While professional theaters are not always able to take a risk on fully producing new work, the LAUNCH PAD offers the playwright the chance to work on the play in a safe environment with students who are deeply engaged and hungry to learn how this process works. These Preview Productions are fully realized, allowing the playwright to see their work in three dimensions.

“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

Since its inception in 2005, LAUNCH PAD has produced thirteen plays by distinguished playwrights:

  • Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl
  • The Dinosaur WIthin by John Walch
  • Plumfield, Iraq by Barbara Lebow
  • La Niñera: The Nursemaid by Barbara Lebow
  • Kingdom City by Sheri Wilner
  • Biederman's Match by Beau Willimon (book), Michelle DiBucci (music), and Portia Kamons (lyrics)
  • Entangled by Lila Rose Kaplan
  • Appoggiatura by James Still
  • Untitled IV by Ruth Markofsky by Alison Tatlock
  • The Talented Ones by Yussef El Guindi
  • We Want the Funk, a rustbelt lullaby on the one! by Idris Goodwin
  • Bernhard by Lynn Rosen
  • Staging the Daffy Dame by Anne García-Romero
  • The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Cheryl L. West