BPP's Mission & History

Mission Statement

The Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) strives to be a leading artistic force in the production and encouragement of new plays. The BPP provides opportunities for development, education, and production for promising and established writers and theater artists in a professional environment.

History

In 1979, the Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) was founded by Tom Moseman and Jim Leonard, both of whom shared a vision of creating a venue to workshop and produce playwrights’ works, and provide a place for actors, directors, and theatre technicians to hone their crafts. Jim Leonard’s play, The Diviners, has since seen many productions across the country, and he has gone on to write and produce for television, notably Skin, Close to Home, The Closer, Dexter, and Ray Donovan. Tom Moseman is currently Senior Vice President of Envirosell.

What We Do

The Bloomington Playwrights Project is the only professional theatre in the entire state of Indiana focused solely on new plays. What you see at BPP, you can’t see anywhere else in the world.

Over the last 40+ years, BPP has developed and produced more than 500 new plays and musicals. Many BPP shows have reached significant success, including recent hits like: Kalamazoo, which has been published by Dramatists Play Service and performed across the country, Rap Guide to Culture which had a successful off-Broadway run, and Ugly Lies the Bone that was produced off-Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company.

BPP has been has been privileged to develop and produce works by hundreds of playwrights including such well-known writers/performers as: Dan Castellaneta (Voice of Homer Simpson), Marc Summers (Double Dare, Food Network), Jesse Eisenberg (Academy Award nominee), Jeff Daniels (Tony & Golden Globe nominee), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), Greg Kotis (Tony winner), Paris Barclay (Two-time Emmy winner), Jon Marans (Pulitzer-Prize finalist), Erin Levy (Emmy winner), Alex Brightman (Two-time Tony Award nominee), and countless more.

BPP is the home of two annual playwriting awards. A comedy award named after Reva Shiner, a longtime advocate, donor, and artist who helped make the BPP possible. The Reva Shiner Comedy Award offers a $1,000 cash prize and full production of a new work. And the prestigious Woodward/Newman Drama Award offers a $3,000 cash prize and full production in honor of the many incredible dramas created by Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman. The award was initially started and supported by Joanne Woodward and the Newman’s Own Foundation.

A typical BPP season includes five mainstage shows and three special events all taking place in the beautifully renovated Ted Jones Playhouse. The Ted Jones Playhouse is an 86-seat performing arts theater purchased by the BPP in 2016 (after a decade of renting and renovations). An old service garage turned industrial facility turned nightclub, the BPP renovated every inch of the building into one of the most recognizable theatrical venues in the region used throughout the year for BPP’s administrative offices, its education program, numerous rental companies, and all of its unique performance.

In addition to artistic excellence, BPP is synonymous with arts education, having the longest running theatre training program in the area. BPP’s Youth Education Program has been in operation for more than 30 years offering camps, classes, and after school programs that all focus on the art of creation. Through these programs, more than 14,000 kids have written new plays or performed on the BPP stage.

About the Timothy J Wiles Theater’s Namesake

Timothy J Wiles had a passion for theater from his pre-adolescence. Growing up in Norway Maine (population 5,000) a village which boasted of enthusiastic community theater efforts (Tim worked stage crew for a popular production of Dial M For Murder when he was 13.) Tim avidly read the New York Times theater reviews.

In 1960 as a senior at Bethel Academy, he was selected to attend a national theater Institute for high school students at the Ohio State University. While there he attended a cycle of Shakespearean plays at Antioch College and his college plans were set in his mind. He majored in English at Antioch and became involved in multiple stage productions. He interned during one cooperative academic quarter at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. He studied for PhD at Stanford University and wrote a dissertation that became a University of Chicago publication: THE THEATER EVENT, a study of the process of catharsis in avant-garde European and American theater.

In 1972 he joined the English faculty at Indiana University, Bloomington and his undergraduate drama courses became known for their dramatic productions: he staged Brecht’s, THE MEASURES TAKEN in the woods behind Woodburn Hall, using Jordan creek as a part of the setting and he directed an innovative production of Apollinaire’s, THE BREASTS OF TIRESIAS, on the roof of the IMU.

In 1975 two theater students, Tom Moseman and Jim Poyser came to Tim and asked his to direct an independent study course in playwriting for them. Later they were joined by Jim Leonard, a graduate student who had a major success with his first play, THE DIVINERS, which had a won a national collegiate theater competition and been produced at the Kennedy Center.

The three asked Tim to mentor them and to help them found a black box theater to produce new and developing plays. For several years, the Bloomington Playwrights Project was a small, theater workshop for new playwrights like those three young playwriting students.

Tim Wiles served on the BPP Board of Directors for many years, served as President and Vice President of the Board through the 1990’s. He died in Bloomington in 2003.

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