The OOB Festival is judged by a different panel each night, featuring top playwrights and industry professionals. Festival participants have the opportunity to make invaluable industry connections and gain lasting notoriety. Many participants have begun career-defining relationships or even been picked up by agents during previous Festival Weeks.


Past judges have included notable members of the theatre industry including: Theresa Rebeck, Tina Howe, Marsha Norman, Mac Wellman, Israel Horovitz, Doug Wright, Anne Kaufman, Christian Parker, Ken Rus Schmoll, Emily Morse, Adam Greenfield, Susan Westfall, and many more.


The judges for the 2016 Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival were:

George Brant – George Brant’s plays include Grounded, Elephant’s Graveyard, The Mourners’ Bench, Any Other Name and Grizzly Mama. His scripts have been produced internationally by the Public Theater, the Alley Theatre, Trinity Rep, Cleveland Play House, and Page 73 among others, and have received a Lucille Lortel Award, a Scotsman Fringe First Award, and the Keene Prize for Literature. George received his MFA in Writing from the Michener Center at UT-Austin. His play with music Marie and Rosetta will be making its world premiere at the Atlantic Theater this September and he is currently adapting Grounded into a feature film starring Anne Hathaway.
Evan Cabnet – Evan Cabnet is the Artistic Director of Lincoln Center Theater’s LCT3. He has directed world premieres on and off-Broadway, regionally and abroad. Currently, his production of Wendy Wasserstein’s AN AMERICAN DAUGHTER is playing at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and his production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ GLORIA will be remounted at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago this winter.
Gretchen Cryer – Gretchen Cryer is most well-known for writing the book and lyrics and starring in “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road” (with music by Nancy Ford) which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Musical, Best Actress, and a Grammy nomination for the album. Gretchen has written numerous other shows with Nancy Ford – “Now Is the Time for All Good Men,” (Lortel Theater) “The Last Sweet Days of Isaac,” (Obie Award – Best Musical, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award) “Shelter” (Golden Theater), “Hang On to the Good Times” (Manhattan Theater Club), “Eleanor” (Williamstown), “The American Girls Revue” – (American Girl Place – Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles), and “Circle of Friends” – (American Girl Place – Chicago and New York) and “Anne of Green Gables” (Theaterworks USA) Cryer and Ford’s new show – “Still Getting My Act Together” premiered at the Laguna Playhouse last fall. Her new play “Changing” will debut at the Intiman Theater in Seattle in 2017. Gretchen is on the Dramatists Guild Council and is President Emeritus of the Dramatists Guild Fund.
Michael Gioia – Michael Gioia is a New York City-based writer and performer. His writing appears daily on Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. He has performed with NYC’s 5th Floor Productions and the Manhattan Children’s Theatre as well as at various cabaret venues, including 54 Below, Joe’s Pub, the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Triad.
Jen Grigg – Jen Grigg is a member of FUSION Theatre in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the curator of their annual New Works Festival, THE SEVEN, she’s had the pleasure of reading every single submission since its inception 11 years ago. Something in the ball park of 10,000 ten minute plays. She also directs and acts in the festival every year. Some of her favorite pieces have been by: Amy Fox, Kelli Burton, Claudia Barnett, Michael Vukadinovich, K.Frithjof Peterson, John Catron, and Jen Silverman’s “The Education of Macaoloco” which FUSION brought to the Sam French OOB Fest in 2008. FUSION is proud to be producing Ms. Silverman’s The Moors in its 2016/17 season. THE SEVEN’s next installation will be June 8-11, 2017. Jen has also performed with FUSION in Clybourne Park, Boston Marriage, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Long Christmas Ride Home. After graduating from Cornish College of the Arts, Ms. Grigg spent most of her early twenties touring the country performing with Seattle based Living Voices Theater, an educational company that teaches history through live theater and video. Jen is a proud Alum of the Actors Theater of Louisville Professional Training Company where she performed with Will Bond in The Second Death of Pricilla by Russell Davis in the 2003 Humana Festival. After 2 years hiding out in upstate New York as a bank teller, Jen relocated to New Mexico, where before falling in with FUSION, she spent a year as an AmeriCorp Teaching Artist with VSA Arts, bringing art and theater programs to adults with developmental disabilities and underserved populations in the greater Albuquerque metro area. She is currently training with The SITI Company’s Suzuki/Viewpoints workshop.
Joshua Harmon – Joshua Harmon’s plays include BAD JEWS and SIGNIFICANT OTHER, which both had their world premieres at Roundabout Theatre Company. BAD JEWS has been produced across the country, on the West End in London, in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel and South Africa. SIGNIFICANT OTHER will transfer to Broadway in February. Joshua is a graduate of Juilliard, and under commission from Roundabout, Lincoln Center and Manhattan Theatre Club.
Howard Sherman – Howard Sherman is director of the Arts Integrity Initiative at The New School College of Performing Arts and interim director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. He is a weekly columnist for The Stage newspaper in London. He tweets as @hesherman and blogs at both artsintegrity.org and hesherman.com.
Crystal Skillman – Crystal Skillman is the award-winning author of Geek!, Cut, and King Kirby (NYTimes Critics Picks); the book writer of the musical of Mary and Max, based on the film; and (Un)Lucky in Love both with Award Winning ASCAP Composer/Lyricist Bobby Cronin; Rain and Zoe Save the World (2016 New Harmony Project, 2016 Oregon Performance Lab), Pulp Vérité (2015 Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission, 2016 BAPF Finalist) and Open (All for One Solo Theater Company’s 2016 Season) as well as Another Kind of Love, a punk rock play (Chopin Theater, 2015, Chicago) hailed by the Chicago Reader as a “Masterpiece”. Crystal is represented by Abrams Artists Agency in NY, and Shepard Management in the UK. She is happily published by Samuel French. More at: http://www.crystalskillman.com/
Jack Smart – Jack Smart is an arts journalist and freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York. As Assistant Editor at Backstage, he covers film, television, and theater, interviewing award-winning artists including Suzan-Lori Parks, Ayad Akhtar, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Stephen Karam, Daniel Beaty, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, and Leslie Odom Jr. His writing has also appeared in Broadway Style Guide, the Theatre Development Fund’s online magazine TDF Stages, Theatre Is Easy, and Samuel French’s Breaking Character. In 2014 he became a critic fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Critics Institute.
Niegel Smith – Niegel Smith is a theater director and performance artist. He is the Artistic Director of NYC’s Obie-Award winning theater, The Flea; Associate Artistic Director of Elastic City; and ringleader of Willing Participant (www.willingparticipant.org) an artistic activist organization that whips up urgent poetic responses to crazy stuff that happens. Smith was the associate director of the Tony Award winning musical FELA! – restaging that production in London, Lagos and its world tour, assistant directed the off-broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and both the broadway and off-broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. His work has been seen in several theatres including The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, New York City Fringe, and several others. He has worked on the artistic staffs of The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Black Rep.
Rob Weinert-Kendt – Rob Weinert-Kendt is the editor-in-chief of American Theatre magazine. He previously served as the founding of editor of Back Stage West and has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Time Out New York, and The Guardian. He has a degree in film production from the University of Southern California. A musician and composer, he is also a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.
Susan Westfall – Susan Westfall is a co-founder and Literary Director of City Theatre in Miami, Florida, and a professional playwright. As City Theatre’s Literary Director Westfall supervises outreach to playwrights, agents and publishers; programs the NextGen Scholar Playwright Project, coordinates the City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting Contest to recognize and award excellence in writing for the short play/musical genre; assists in play selections for readings, programs and productions; and coordinates CityWrights, a bi-annual Professional Weekend for Playwrights, with annual year round programs, that bring together playwrights and industry professionals (including Samuel French!) for creative and professional development. Westfall’s produced plays include Two Weekends and A Day (Kilroy honorary list 2015), Look At Me (published in “Best Short Plays 2011”), Rats, The Boy From Russia, Uprising, The Wedding Party, Passing Through (Heideman Finalist), With the Patience of Angels (Heideman Finalist), 1962, You Are Here, and Voices at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel. Her one-minute play, Tango, became a ten minute production called Feel The Tango, has been revised in an LGBT political short currently being produced as Be The Change for Shorts Gone Wild 4, and will debut as a short musical opera produced by Performance Santa Fe this fall. Westfall is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, The Playwrights Center, Theatre Communications Group, and the Theatre League of South Florida.
HONORARY FESTIVAL PLAYWRIGHT – Tina Howe – Tina Howe’s most produced plays include “Birth and After Birth”, “Museum”, “The Art of Dining”, “Painting Churches”, “Coastal Disturbances”, “Approaching Zanzibar” and “Pride’s Crossing”. These and other works premiered at the Public Theater, the Kennedy Center, Second Stage, The Old Globe Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Atlantic Theater Company, Primary Stages as well as being translated and produced abroad. Among her many awards are an Obie for Distinguished playwriting, a Tony nomination for best Play, an Outer Circle Critics Award, a Rockefeller Grant, two N.E.A. Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the Sidney Kingsley Award, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, two honorary degrees, the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre, a Lilly Award for Lifetime Achievement, and most recently, PEN’s Master American Playwright award in 2015. A two time finalist for the Pulitzer prize, Ms. Howe has taught at NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and UCLA before becoming Visiting Professor at Hunter College in 1990, then going on to launch the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting in 2010 as Playwright-in-Residence. Her works can be read in numerous anthologies as well as in Coastal Disturbances: Four Plays by Tina Howe and Birth and After Birth and Other Plays: A Marriage Cycle, published by Theatre Communications Group. Her other publications include her translations of Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano” and “The Lesson” (Grove Press) and Shrinking Violets and Towering Tiger Lilies: Seven Brief Plays about Women in Distress, (Samuel French), She is also the subject of Howe in an Hour, edited by Judith Barlow, published by Smith and Kraus. Ms. Howe is proud to have served on the council of the Dramatists Guild since 1990.