The Coal Mines: New Play Development

Burning Coal Theatre Company is committed to developing new plays and theatre practices by artists connected to the Tar Heel State.* In producing new and innovative theatre, The Coal Mines development process focuses on five objectives:

-To promote and celebrate playwriting throughout North Carolina

-To include Southern voices within the national, cultural conversation

-To represent Raleigh as an inferno for the incubation and development of new work

-To encourage equity in the theatre field by welcoming underrepresented artists and encourage both artists and audiences of all backgrounds

-To introduce  local audiences to emerging plays and playwrights

Burning Coal Theatre Company is recognized for bringing cutting-edge theatre home to Raleigh-Durham, as well as to other cities such as New York City and London. Burning Coal is committed to the exchange between regional and global performance communities and this powers the heart of the company’s new works development process, The Coal Mines –increasing visibility and opportunity at home and at large.

Since 2000, Burning Coal Theatre Company has produced staged readings of new plays by writers connected to the Tar Heel State.   The Coal Mines laboratory offers playwrights the opportunity to hear how their new work sounds aloud by professional actors–and gives audiences a peek into what’s smoking in Raleigh.

*The Coal Mines accepts unsolicited scripts on a rolling basis from all playwrights born in North Carolina, regardless of where they currently consider home. Writers also qualify for The Coal Mines if they have studied or worked in North Carolina  for a significant portion of time.

Submission Process

Please include:

One hard copy of your script (The Coal Mines considers one script per playwright at a time.)

Cover letter with your name, contact info, and prior or anticipated productions of your script

If you wish for your script to be returned, please include a SASE

Mail these materials to

Burning Coal Theatre Company
Attn: The Coal Mines
224 Polk Street
Raleigh, NC 27604

In addition, please send an electronic copy of your script (PDF preferred) to

 The Coal Mines will offer selected scripts a staged reading by professional actors in the theatre at the historic Murphey School, and hosts the playwright’s stay for the duration of their reading. Performances are free and open to the public.


Past Productions & Events

The following shows/events have passed.


Up From the Ground

Oct 2, 2013

7 pm on Wednesday

$5  Suggested Donation

Murphey School Auditorium

Written by Ian Finley

Up From the Ground is an original play by 2012 Piedmont Laureate Ian Finley about how our heritage, hopes and values are reflected in the food we eat.  Written as part of the Laureate program, Up From the Ground will receive its world-premier reading at Burning Coal Theatre Company on Wednesday, October 2nd, 7:00pm as part of their New Works series.

Inspired by interviews with chefs, journalists and farmers from Wake, Durham, Orange and Alamance counties, Up From the Ground explores the questions of where our food comes from and what it means to cook in the hectic 21st century.  

Up From the Ground was written with the support of the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission and Alamance County Arts Council.  


Ian Finley holds a BFA degree from the University of Utah, and an MFA in playwriting from New York University.  He worked at Burning Coal Theatre Company as Director of Education from 2004 through 2012.  In 2012, he was named Piedmont Laureate.  He has had plays produced in Utah, New York, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.  At Burning Coal, he authored 1960 and co-authored Jude the Obscure, Parts 1 & 2.

Aurora Borealis

Jun 26 – Jun 26, 2013

7 pm on Wednesday

Murphey School Auditorium

Written by Kelly Doyle

Directed by Steph Scribner

Free with suggested donation of $5 at the door

Staged reading of new play by Kelly Doyle (Blue, Dirt, Agnes the Giant), directed by Steph Scribner.  When Aurora returns home after spending nearly two years in prison, she finds  her brother Milo’s hoarder girlfriend has moved into the house and filled it  with mountains of well-organized garbage. On the other side of town, Milo has a  violent altercation with a rescue worker while he singlehandedly attempts to  protect the CSA produce from a hailstorm. When they finally meet, dark secrets  from childhood are revealed and resolved as they attempt to reconcile after  years of estrangement and misunderstanding. Alternatively disturbing and drily  funny, “Aurora Borealis” explores how we escape the traps in life that we set  for ourselves and become lost in.”

Estimated run time: 1.5 hours.

Outrunning Bullets

Feb 13, 2013

8 pm on Wednesday

$5  Suggested Donation

Murphey School Auditorium

Written by Jonathan Fitts

Directed by Eric Kildow

The Irish War of Independence ended in 1922 with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.  But the fighting had only just begun.  Havoc breaks loose in a small, rural town when Tom O’Malley of the anti-treaty Republicans captures the ornery Lieutenant Jimmy Caraghy and the young Private Seamus Fitzpatrick of the pro-treaty Irish National Army. With a small band of guerilla soldiers, including his fiery sister Anne and her fiancée John, Tom attempts to negotiate with the National Army to get the “Free Staters” out of his hometown. In the process, however, the ties that bind each of the individuals are torn and rewound in surprising places, allegiances are changed, and everyone is forced to ask if saving their family is worth losing their home.  But the ties that connect the members of this small Irish town are stronger than any of them might have believed, and Tom’s plan creates rifts, and connections, that no one could have foreseen.

Jonathan Fitts, a native of Raleigh, NC, holds an undergraduate degree in theatre from Appalachian State University.  He is one semester away from completing his MFA at New York University, where he will graduate this spring.  Jonathan has written many plays, including the music and lyrics for Jude the Obscure, Parts 1 & 2 (with Bruce Benedict) at Burning Coal Theatre Company.

Eric Kildow holds degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design and Texas A&M.  He regularly works for Burning Coal as its dramaturg.  He currently teaches at Coast Carolina Community College in Jacksonville.