Orbiter 3 was born of our shared belief that production of new plays by local writers is essential to the vitality of local theater.
As playwrights, we knew production was the critical next step toward our artistic growth and maturity.
We knew our peers outside the industry often perceived theater as a medium that didn't reflect their stories or identities. And we believed that diversifying the authors of the stories told on Philly stages - with more plays by women, people of color, and new and emerging voices - would go a long way toward bringing our friends to the theater.
Finally, we knew producing theaters - tasked with balancing artistic risk and commercial viability - were understandably wary of investing hard-earned capital in unknown playwrights.
So we decided to take responsibility for that artistic growth, audience engagement, and financial risk ourselves. We announced Orbiter 3 in November of 2014, and began a project to produce a flurry of new work by diverse, untested artists around Philadelphia.
Orbiter 3 is part of a national momentum to increase production of new plays by local writers, fueled by artists, theaters, and playwright support organizations that share a belief in the importance of new plays.
Since Orbiter 3's launch in November 2014, and our first show in July 2015, the number of Philadelphia productions of new plays by local playwrights has increased each season.
Below is our tally of those productions over six seasons at producing theaters in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
Because Orbiter 3 is committed to parity, diversity, and nurturing the next generation of theatrical voices, we also looked at the number of those productions authored by women, trans and gender nonconforming artists, and by people of color, and the number of productions marking the playwright's full-length professional debut.
Local productions of new plays by Philadelphia playwrights
Notes & definitions
Orbiter 3 timeline
2014/2015 Season Orbiter 3 launches in November 2014.
2015/2016 Season Orbiter 3 produces MOON MAN WALK (July 2015), A KNEE THAT CAN BEND (December 2015), and I AM NOT MY MOTHERLAND (July 2016).
2016/2017 Season Orbiter 3 produces BREATHE SMOKE (Oct/Nov. 2016) and PEACEABLE KINGDOM (May 2017).
2017/2018 Season Orbiter 3 produces THE BROWNINGS (December 2017) and A PEOPLE (May/June 2018), then transforms into an online resources for theater-makers.
A standard theatrical production "season" spans July through June.
New, Full-length Plays by Philadelphia Writers
We looked at plays 70 minutes and longer by artists residing in the Philadelphia metropolitan area for at least one year leading up to production of their plays.
Our tally looks at text-based theatrical works authored by individuals. It does not include ensemble-devised works.
We counted second productions of new plays originally produced five or fewer years prior.
Our definition of producing theaters excludes companies presenting their own wholly original works, and organizations acting solely as presenters (rather than producers) of original work.
This production marks the playwright's full-length professional debut (meaning it's the first full-length production of the playwright's work at a professional theater).
Philadelphia Metropolitan Area
We identified theaters located and producing within 20 miles of Center City, Philadelphia.