Our Origin Story

The Z Playwrights Lab began in October 2017 when, at the request of Bart Keubler, Clyde Santana moved his playwrights group that had operated at the Attucks Theater in Norfolk Virginia from January 2009 to June 2017 to Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach.

October 2018, The Lab presented scenes from three plays as part of the inaugural Z Proteus Festival. With our eye on developing more plays, we presented table & staged readings of 15 new scripts that season in the Studio Theater and Lobby. The October 2019 Proteus Festival featured three Lab workshop productions.

Over the course of two years, we held virtual table readings and developmental critiques of over 30 scripts and musicals. We trained numerous playwrights in the art of telling stories for the stage. Meeting virtually proved to be extremely accessible so we continue to meet virtually to this day. 

Our story continued as The Z opened back up…leading to the Proteus New Play Festival of October 2022. The Lab continues to produce workshop productions, table reads, and fully-staged performances in current and upcoming seasons at The Z. 

Who we Are

We are a consortium of serious playwrights developing our scripts for festival & professional productions at The Z and beyond. Our goal: Restore the developmental process plays received in the early days of American theater, namely a forum for playwright collaboration, revision of plays through out-of-town openings, and a professional community of theater artisans who share the goal of revitalizing the American theatrical experience.  

Run as a virtual workshop with two lead facilitators, Clyde Santana and Jean Klein, we meet twice monthly to read scripts and constructively critique our work in a safe and productive environment as well as share professional, educational, and marketing guidance to advance our plays towards production.

The Dramatists Guild of America, the national trade association of playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists, has recognized The Z Playwrights Lab as unique in its mission in this area of our country. Two members of The Lab serve as ambassadors to the Guild for Virginia-East.


Membership is determined by The Lab, The Z, and the availability of slots. We are committed to fostering and supporting an inclusive arts community and therefore does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by law. The Z actively seeks opportunities to diversify our pool of participants and patrons. All members agree to uphold this policy and to work with The Lab to maintain a supportive, inclusive and productive environment. 

The maximum number of playwrights that Z Playwrights Labs can sustain at any one time is 18. New members are added on the group’s assessment of the writer’s interest in learning the craft, developing new work, committing time and expertise in assisting other members in their revision process, and their viability as a group member.

To become a member of this group, we ask that you

  1. Attend meetings as a non-participating guest regularly for 3 meetings to understand how the Z Playwrights Labs works
  2. Attend as a participating guest for 3 more meetings
  3. Decide if you are interested in making a serious commitment to writing for the stage and to the other members of the group, and allow other members to get to know you.
  4. Submit an application for review by current members.

We are a consortium of writers who are looking to each other for guidance and direction in developing scripts in a variety of genres. To that extent, we work to help in the development of our work professionally and promote that work into eventual production. Membership is determined by the group and the availability of slots.

There are no dues at this time. However, members contribute through “sweat equity:

  • Continuing to deepen their understanding of stagecraft
  • Increasing and sharing their knowledge of the play development process
  • Attending meetings regularly to comment on the work of fellow playwrights
  • Sharing in the mentorship process