Colorado New Play Festival announces local resident as new director |

Colorado New Play Festival announces local resident as new director

Steamboat Springs resident Dagny McKinley has been named the new festival director for Steamboat’s Colorado New Play Festival.
Courtesy photo

Colorado New Play Festival has created a new role within its organization and has named Steamboat Springs resident Dagny McKinley to fill it.

McKinley is the first festival director, a role created to further the mission of the festival, create new community collaborations and expand marketing and development outreach. McKinley was formerly the development director for Steamboat Creates and is a local author and historian.

“Dagny brings a wealth of knowledge of the local community as well as the nonprofit community and all the players in it,” said Jim Steinberg, founder and executive producer of Colorado New Play Festival. “Her marketing skills, communication skills and ability to broaden our development events will contribute hugely to the festival moving forward.”

Each year following the festival, McKinley would email Steinberg to tell him how much she loved it and indicated that it is consistently her favorite event in town. Three weeks into her new role, she is looking forward to sharing with the community what makes Colorado New Play Festival so special.

The festival, founded in 1996 in Steamboat, is an annual weeklong event that brings writers, actors, directors and producers from various theater companies across the country to town. Playwrights develop plays in collaboration with directors and actors and the week ends with dramatic readings of the works by the actors.

“I think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” McKinley said. “It’s a way to jump into someone else’s work for a while and I love that. There’s no set or costumes, just actors on a stage reading words. You get the full power of what the story is without any distractions.”

More than 70% of the work created at the festival moves on to regional and New York stages. Theaters that have produced work created at Colorado New Play Festival include The Public Theater in New York, Portland (Oregon) Center Stage, Chance Theater in Los Angeles, Curious Theatre in Denver, Actors Theatre of Louisville and many more.

Colorado New Play Festival was hailed as one of the top North American theater festivals, according to The New York Times, and it is the only organization in the country that works with theater companies to take plays from the page to the stage.

Drawing top talent, performers include many well-known theater and television actors, and playwrights who attend include Emmy and Tony award nominees as well as Pulitzer Prize winners.

While the festival has been taking place in Steamboat for over two decades, McKinley said she hopes to bring more awareness to the event.

“There is a huge new market of people in town who would love to come and see this,” she said. “There is also a younger generation of people who might not even know that it’s around.”

Marketing the event is one of her top goals, but she also has plans to expand programming in the next few years. For example, the organization wants to start a playwright slam in which Routt County youth has the chance to submit written work that will be edited and polished, then read in front of theater professionals.

“I’m super excited to see that come to light,” McKinley said. “Things like that can help shape your confidence to keep doing the things you love.”

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