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Studio X-hibition New Play Development 2022

 Through this program, Theatre Exile has presented live readings of local playwrights’ scripts while they are in progress for an audience of peers and casual theater fans. These readings provide an opportunity for playwrights to see their work performed for an audience and receive constructive critiques from their community. 

In 2022, Theatre Exile was proud to present readings of Abandon by Philadelphia-based playwright, director, and performer James Ijames (January 31), abSolution by Philadelphia-based playwright Brenden Dahl (March 14), and Saturday Mourning Cartoons by New Jersey playwright Iraisa Ann Reilly (April 4).

Read about our 2022 readings below, and stay tuned for information on Studio X-hibition 2023. If you have a play we should consider, visit the “Join Us” tab in our website menu and submit your piece.


2022 Readings:

Saturday Mourning Cartoons *in collaboration with PAAL
by Iraisa Ann Reilly

While dealing with the death of their younger brother, Jessica and Benny have a falling out over whether to put their abuela, Yolanda, in a nursing home. Ultimately, Benny wins the argument, and Yolanda is sent to “el home.” When a pandemic hits and they are no longer able to go inside during visiting hours, the family is forced to confront one another while visiting her at the window. Yolanda will never find herself alone, as she is constantly in the care and presence of a special visitor. Saturday Mourning Cartoons is a play about dealing with change when everything changes at once, and mourning alone in a time of collective mourning.  This reading will be presented in English and Spanish without subtitles

Mientras están de luto a causa de la muerte de su hermano menor, Jessica y Benny se fajan sobre la decisión de poner a su Abuela, Yolanda en un asilo de ancianos. Benny gana la discusión, y a Yolanda la mandan para “el home”. Cuando ocurre una pandemia y ya no pueden entrar “al home” durante las horas de visita, la familia se tiene que confrontar afuera de la ventana de su abuela. Yolanda nunca se encuentra sola, y siempre está bajo el cuidado de una visita especial. Saturday Mourning Cartoons es una obra que trata de lidiar con los cambios cuando todo cambia a la misma vez, y el luto singular en una hora de luto colectivo.

Monday, April 4, 2022, at 8 p.m.

 About Iraisa Ann Reilly:
Iraisa Ann Reilly (She/Ella) is a Jersey-born artist passionate about bilingual and cross-cultural storytelling. Select full-length plays include Good Cuban Girls (Teatro del Sol, at The Arden Theatre), The Jersey Devil is a Papi Chulo ( Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Latinx New Play Prize, Second Place Mark Twain Prize for Comedic Playwriting 2021) Madame Anastasia’s Crystal Ball (Semifinalist, Bay Area Playwright’s Festival 2021), Medallas Por Un Abrazo (New Light Theatre Dark Room Series) and One Day Old (Philadelphia Fringe). Iraisa Ann performed her original one-woman show, A Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Aphasia, as a part of Philadelphia’s Solow Fest. She was semifinalist for the Page 73 Fellowship, 2019 and a recipient of the Chair Award from NYU’s Department of Dramatic Writing 2021. She was Development Studio Fellow in 2021 with NYU’S Production Lab, where she wrote her original screenplay, La Reina Del Bronx. MFA in Dramatic Writing, NYU, BA Theatre and English University of Notre Dame. Big thanks to Theatre Exile and as always, Mi Familia.  

Iraisa Ann Reilly’s website: iraisaannreilly.com

*Parent Artist Advocacy League for Arts + Media (PAAL) is a national community, resource hub, and solutions generator for individuals with caregiver responsibilities and institutions who strive to support them.


by James Ijames

Luella is alone. She is haunted by the ghost of her son. Joshua is alone. He has been kicked out of his house by his brother. One winter night these two people collide into each other. Luella is looking for redemption, Joshua is looking for family. By the next morning, these two lonely souls are meshed together into an American Family in its truest sense.

Honorary Producer: Gayle and David Smith
Produced in Partnership with The Brothers’ Network

Monday, January 31, 2022, at 8 p.m.

Click here for our digital program.

James Ijames (Credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

 About James Ijames:
 James Ijames is a playwright, director and   educator. James’ plays have been produced by   Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre   Horizon, Wilma Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), The   National Black Theatre (NYC), Steppenwolf   Theatre, Definition Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre   (Chicago IL) Shotgun Players (Berkeley, CA) and   have received development with PlayPenn New   Play Conference, The Lark, Playwright’s Horizon,   Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, Wilma   Theater, Azuka Theatre and Victory Garden. 

James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient. James is a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ….Miz Martha, a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award, a 2019 Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise and a 2020 Steinberg Prize. James is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and a co-artistic of the Wilma Theater. He resides in South Philadelphia.

James Ijames’s website: https://www.jamesijames.com/words 

by Brenden Dahl

Manny blames himself for Val’s death, and it’s eating him alive. So he goes to abSolution™, a company with the technology to edit away a person’s guilt through state-of-the-art digitized electro-therapy. Lying on a cold surgical table with nodes hooked up to his implanted digiChip, Manny relives every last moment of his relationship with Val, as a clinician twists her words and actions to present a version of reality he can live with. But when Manny wakes up, he realizes that there may be more to absolution than he’d originally thought.

Monday, March 14, 2022, at 8 p.m.

About Brenden Dahl:
Brenden Dahl (he/they) is a 20-year-old playwright and theatre artist from Philadelphia, PA. After working for Theatre Exile as an Artistic Intern in 2020-2021, he is thrilled to return as a playwright for Studio X-hibition 2022! Brenden has worked with theatre companies and nonprofits in Philadelphia, New York, and the Midwest as a playwright, director, actor, teaching artist, social media/communications manager, and video editor. He attends Northwestern University as a Theatre Major in the Class of 2025 with a concentration in Playwriting. Outside of classes, Brenden currently performs with Titanic Players Improv and competes on the Mock Trial Team. His produced plays include abSolution (Temple University), Pintop (Ball State University), The Glennanike Colonists (Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2020), and Imaginary (Philadelphia Young Playwrights/Temple University). Brenden is the recipient of a 2019 Senior Portfolio Award as well as multiple National Gold Medals through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, was a 2019 Young Arts National Merit Selection, and was the inaugural 2020 Playwright-in-Residence at Philadelphia Young Playwrights. 

Brenden Dahl’s website: www.brendendahl.com

We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions: ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, and SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.

About Studio X-hibition

For 25 years, Theatre Exile has committed to cultivating the future of theater through new play development. New play development began in 1996 when Theatre Exile presented a world premiere of The Further Adventures of the Gavone Family, a locally written show by Joseph Sorrentino. That commitment to new and cutting-edge work has continued to thrive and grow. In 2010, Theatre Exile formally launched Studio X-hibition, which presents live readings of local playwrights’ scripts while they are in progress for an audience of peers and casual theater fans. These readings provide an opportunity for playwrights to see their work performed for a live audience and receive constructive critiques from their community. 

Through this program, Theatre Exile has contributed to the development of over 27 plays, 15 of which were later produced for regional and national audiences. Additionally, several shows have received notable awards and commendations, including the Smith Prize, Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize, and the Plays for Now grant from Venturous Theatre.

New play development has remained one of Theatre Exile’s core tenets since premiering Sorrentino’s show in 1996. Since its formal launch in 2010, Studio X-hibition has grown to include staged readings, workshop development programs, and writers’ workshops that support new, gritty, provocative theater. The annual series brings Philadelphia’s local playwrights to Theatre Exile as they explore a new piece that can challenge and provoke audiences to think about the process of storytelling. Through another program, Out of Exile, Theatre Exile commissions playwrights to create an original play for theatergoers of all ages.

Past Studio X-hibition