While Director of External Affairs at The Playwrights' Center under the visionary direction of Dr. P. Carl, Todd conceived and executed a pioneering new play development initiative that's still thriving today, 20 years later, thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other funders.
Todd embraced the Center’s mandate to become a national new play incubator and vastly expanded its resources by creating New Plays on Campus, a 100-college network of theater departments committed to developing new plays by living playwrights.
New Plays on Campus puts the best new plays in America into the hands of college and university theaters, connecting students and faculty with living playwrights while giving playwrights a paid chance to hear and see new works on their feet.
More than 100 schools have participated to date, many of them renewing year after year, impacting tens of thousands of students, and supporting development of an estimated 600 plays as of 2020. Participating playwrights have gone on to write for theaters throughout the world, and for hit shows on NBC, HBO, and more.
It is one of the first times that I can honestly say that such a bridge between
the professional world and college theater makes us connect in a way
that is creative, important, and useful for all parties involved.
— Karen Peterson Wilson, St. Olaf College
Asked if New Plays On Campus could change American theater,
Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Director Gregg Henry chuckles.
"I think it is possible… Everybody’s going to benefit from this."
If I hadn't walked into The Playwrights' Center as an aspiring playwright on just the right day, I wouldn't have landed the job that turned into one of the most formative of my life. Incoming Center director Dr. Carl was not afraid of bold new ideas, and my alma mater's theater director Karen Peterson Wilson was eager to find a way to expose her students to living artists. All my life, I've been privileged to be surrounded by can-do types, good people who get a thrill from trying new things. This project set me up to found my own arts nonprofit company, Motionpoems, just five years later.