Founded in 1964 by George C. White, in honor of America's only Nobel Prize-winning playwright.
The O'Neill is home to the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, National Theater Institute, and National Critics Institute.
Writers and directors, puppeteers and singers, students and audiences alike take their first steps in exploring, revising and understanding their work and the potential of the theater they help create.
All focus on the script, as it begins its journey to the stage. Actors work with simply rendered sets, no costume design, and script in hand, revealing for the first time the magic of a new play or musical, puppetry piece or cabaret act.
Work first performed at the O'Neill has gone on to regional theaters, Broadway, film, and television. Students and professionals who have honed their skills at the O'Neill can be seen in these venues every day across the nation and world. Others work behind the scenes as playwrights, directors, in stage management, publicity and a hundred other roles that the public never sees but are nonetheless essential to every production.
Staff and alumni from the O'Neill have won every major award in theater arts. The O'Neill itself is the recipient of two Tony® Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence. Additionally, the O’Neill has received the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award of Theater Excellence and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award.
Among the hundreds of plays and musicals developed and premiered at The O'Neill are such notable works as John Guare's The House Of Blue Leaves, Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori's Violet, Wendy Wasserstein's Uncommon Women and Others, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences and The Piano Lesson, Lee Blessing's A Walk In The Woods, Nine by Arthur Kopit, Mario Fratti and Maury Yeston, Avenue Q by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes, [title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, and Story Of My Life by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill.
The O'Neill also manages and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home located in neighboring New London.