What is Triple Play?

Triple Play is a nationwide project created by Theatre Development Fund and Theatre Bay Area that investigates the relationship of audiences to new plays. In an attempt to create a new understanding of why people do (and don't) see new plays, the project places audience members in direct conversation with playwrights and theatre staffers. The results of those conversations -- along with nationwide surveys and other research about new play attendance -- are currently guiding conversations in the field about how theatre professionals can more deeply engage with their audiences.
What has Triple Play accomplished so far?

In January 2015, TDF and TBA partnered with Howlround to host a convening of playwrights and theatre staffers in Boston. Over a long weekend, participants explored the existing Triple Play research -- including the one-on-one conversations with audience members -- and discussed how it could be translated into concrete actions in their individual communities.

Click here to see a full schedule of Boston events, browse a list of attendees, and read all the research documents that were provided in advance.

In late 2014, theatres around the country hosted one-on-on interviews between theatre staffers and local audience members AND between playwrights and local audience members. Click here to read a Howlround article by Mark Blankenship, TDF's online content editor, that summarizes the most exciting discoveries made in these conversations.

In early 2014, TDF and TBA hosted discussions in six cities about issues relating to audience engagement with new work. Watch and listen to excerpts of the sessions on HowlRoundTV 

Read the announcement of the initial grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Fund for National Projects. This grant launched the Triple Play project .


When TDF was founded in 1968, the serious new play on Broadway was in jeopardy.  John Booth, one of TDF's founders and its first president, said that a primary motivation for the fund was the realization that rising costs had caused producers to become risk-averse, stating in the announcement article, "We cannot permit the worthy play to become extinct."   That conviction has been in the organization's DNA from that point on. 

And finally, Todd London and Ben Pesner have written Outrageous Fortune, the Life and Times of the New American Play.   It is our deep hope that the book will be both a culmination and a beginning.  It is the culmination of years of work and the beginning of a new conversation.  If you would like to purchase the book, click the "Buy Now" link at the top right of this page.

Read about Outrageous Fortune




From philosophical to practical, the role of the audience in the performing arts has been parsed, debated, and interrogated left, right, and center. This is the central concern editor Clayton Lord has unleashed in the sprawling database that is Theatre Bay Area’s recent publication Counting New Beans, an almost-five-hundred-page compilation of essays, research, and statistics that attempts to measure the intrinsic impact of live theater.






Infinia report






In the fall of 2008, Theatre Development  Fund commissioned the Infinia Group to do a study examining barriers to theatre participation among New Yorkers. TDF was interested in understanding the forces at work that were keeping New Yorkers from attending the theatre.  We needed these insights to be able to create new programs which would be effective in building audiences.  The study involved quantitative surveys and qualitative (focus groups, in home meetings) research as well as a culture scan. At left read an extract from the findings.