Created as a program to help develop and provide exposure for the voices of a new generation of theater artists, SECOND STAGE THEATER UPTOWN (Christopher Burney, Curator & Associate Artistic Director), seeks to develop the skills of emerging playwrights, to provide early-career artists with the support of a major artistic institution, and to create new plays for the American Theater. Each show has a limited rehearsal period, as well as a streamlined budget. Lead funding for Second Stage Uptown Series is provided by the Time Warner Foundation.
The series was among the first established by a prominent Off-Broadway institution to help nurture and advance the careers of young up and coming playwrights. Since its founding in 2002 the Uptown Series has showcased the works of several established playwrights including Rajiv Joseph (Gruesome Playground Injuries and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, “Nurse Jackie”), Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Good Boys and True, HBO’s “Big Love,” “Glee”), Adam Bock (A Small Fire, The Drunken City), and Brooke Berman (Hunting and Gathering); actors Gavin Creel, Ari Graynor, Marin Hinkle, Halley Feiffer, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lorenzo Pisoni, Tracie Thoms and Tracee Chimo among many others; and directors Davis McCallum, Trip Cullman, Carolyn Cantor, Evan Cabnet and Jackson Gay.
The series premiered in 2002 with three new American plays: …in the absence of spring…, written and directed by Joe Calarco; The Notebook, written by Wendy Kesselman and directed by Evan Yionoulis; and Hunt Holman’s Spanish Girl, directed by Erica Schmidt. Second Stage Theater Uptown was on hiatus in 2003 due to theater repairs. The 2004 season saw the New York premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s The Mystery Plays, as well as Brooke Berman’s The Triple Happiness, starring Ally Sheedy. In 2005, the series presented the New York premiere of the critically acclaimed comedy Swimming in the Shallows, written by Adam Bock and starring Logan Marshall-Green, as well as the world premiere of Dan O’Brien’s The Dear Boy. The 2006 series featured two world premiere comedies: Getting Home, written by Anton Dudley and directed by David Schweizer, and Rajiv Joseph’s All This Intimacy,directed by Giovanna Sardelli. The 2007 series featured Marisa Wegrzyn’s The Butcher of Baraboo, directed by Judith Ivey, and Joshua Tobiessen’s Election Day, directed by Jeremy Dobrish. The 2008 series featured Carly Mensch’s Len, Asleep in Vinyl, directed by Jackson Gay, and Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out of Paper, directed by Giovanna Sardelli. The 2009 series presented two world premiere plays: Zakiyyah Alexander’s 10 Things To Do Before I Die, directed by Jackson Gay, and Lila Rose Kaplan’s Wildflower, directed by Giovanna Sardelli. The 2010 season’s series featured the New York premiere of Michael Golamco’s Year Zero, directed by Will Frears, and the New York premiere production of Leslye Headland’s critically acclaimed hit comedy Bachelorette, directed by Trip Cullman. The 2011 season featured two world premiere comedies: Michael Mitnick’s Sex Lives of Our Parents, directed by Davis McCallum and Anna Kerrigan’s The Talls, directed by Carolyn Cantor. The 2012 season brought The Bad Guys by Alena Smith and Warrior Class by Kennth Lin to Uptown. The 2013 series brought world premiere of The Tutors by Erica Lipez as well as the current off-Broadway hit musical, Murder for Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair.