About CPI

Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) is a grassroots non-profit arts organization of Tri-State playwrights, directors, actors, and theater supporters dedicated to developing new plays written by local playwrights.  Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative is a member of the League of Cincinnati Theaters (LCT).  Since 1997, CPI in conjunction with the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) annually sponsors a series of public staged readings of new plays, New Voices Series.  CPI strives to provide a forum for playwrights to explore the possibilities contained within their work by providing a community of playwrights within which individual initiative can seek its fullest expression.


The History of CPI


Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) was started in the fall of 1996 by Norma Jenckes, a faculty member from the University of Cincinnati and the director of the Helen WeinsbergCenter for Drama.  The organization was an outgrowth of a group of playwrights who met informally to discuss and critique their work.  A guiding principle of the newly formed group was that the playwrights themselves would take the initiative in organizing staged readings and advancing their work.  The organization would then support the initiative of its playwrights by providing help, guidance, and a place to hold staged readings.


CPI developed a partnership with the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) that allowed the organization to stage its first play reading at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Fifth Third Bank Theater, in January 1997.  Since that first staged reading, CPI has presented the original plays of more than 80 Tri-State playwrights to audiences in the Aronoff Center, Fifth Third Bank Theater, Jarson-Kaplan Theater (2011), the V.A. Medical Center in Cincinnati, and the Carnegie Arts Center in Covington, KY.  Several members and alumni of the New Voices Series have gone on to full-scale productions, locally as well as in New York and Los Angeles.


CPI joined forces with the Ohio Theatre Alliance and presented a playwright’s workshop in February 2000.  CPI also became an active participant in the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT), a collaborative of Cincinnati theatre organizations.


CPI officially obtained a non-profit status in 2001.



The Organization:  Structure, Meetings and More


CPI officers are elected to a 2-year term:


Current Officers of CPI:


Interim President:                     Arnie Shayne


Secretary:                            Elaine Eckstein Wilson


Treasurer:                             Tammy Brady




CPI has several ongoing committees, headed by committee chairs.

Primary committees are:

Play Selection Committee

Publicity & Website

Cold Readings/Forums

Playwriting Workshop





Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative holds monthly business meetings, attended by the elected officers, the various committees and other CPI members who wish to attend.   The meetings take place on the second Sunday of every month at 7:00 PM, on the 2nd Floor, Room 2225 (ground level) of French Hall on the University of Cincinnati campus off Jefferson Avenue.

Visitors and all members are always welcome.


Membership & How to Join


CPI Membership is open to all playwrights, actors, directors, producers, and supporters who live in the Tri-State area.

  • Dues amount $20 per year.
  • Year is defined as 12 months from the date a new member joins.
  • Do not send cash.

For the $20 annual dues, members are entitled to submit one full-length play or three one-acts.

The check, payable to CPI, can be mailed to:  CPI, P.O. Box 19969, Cincinnati, OH 45219-0969.



Public Staged Readings


Staged readings are an important step in the development of new plays.  The audience is encouraged but not required to join in the collaborative process of bringing a new play to life.  Staged readings allow playwrights, actors and directors to receive feedback from the audience about the play-in-progress.  Public staged readings also allow a playwright public exposure with interested parties who may want to promote or produce the play.

CPI in conjunction with the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA) annually sponsors a series of public staged readings of selected new plays-New Voices Series-at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Fifth-Third Bank Theater, and occasionally at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater.  The series season runs from September to May or June.  All events, nearly ten, are on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and begin at 7:30 PM.


Tickets are only $8 at the door on night of performance. Reservations and purchases may be made in advance at Aronoff Center Box Office, or by calling 513-621-2787, or online at



CPI By-Laws


CPI is guided by its By-Laws (available to Members upon request).


CPI Actors / Directors List


CPI maintains a list of Actors and Directors who are willing to volunteer their time and talents to participate in the New Voices Series.   Being on the list does not assure the artists’ acceptance to hop on board.   It is up to the playwright to contact the directors and actors and convince them to join the project.   The list is available to Members only.


Here’s a great big THANK YOU to all CPI’s sponsors, partners, actors, directors, and patrons who continue to support our mission, nurturing new local talent, encouraging new voices, bringing to the local scene new stage works by up and coming local writers, performed by local actors.  Please support the theaters large and small in our area and the League of Cincinnati Theatres (LCT) of which CPI is a proud member.