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‘Our imperative is to help gifted writers generate their best work possible. The only way we are going to enhance the value of story in film, theater or television, is to ask our finest writers to tell us what their souls long to express, rather than what seems to fit a standard commercial mold.’

Mark Woods, Director and
M.Z. Ribalow, Artistic Director

“This is what I live for.” (James McLure, playwright)

“This is a brilliant venture and I should very much like to continue to be a part of it...I accomplished a great deal that I could not have without the community of writers and actors. If I could spend a month in a place like this, I could write something REALLY good.” (N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author)

“Thank you for two miraculous weeks in Healing Springs. I have never written so much in a short period in my life! I heard two old plays and one recent rewrite read and discussed, finished a play I started six years ago and never could find an ending for until now, rewrote yet another one-act, then completed an entirely new one-act that I'd never considered writing before, and I also brought back the beginnings of a new full-length play that I had no idea I'd write when I arrived in North Carolina. Whew! To have done only one of these things in two weeks would have been reason enough to rejoice, but to have accomplished so much is truly amazing… The process of hearing a play and then discussing it is probably the most positive feedback I've had of my work in the 25 years I've been writing in the theater.” (Jack Heifner, playwright)

“At New River Dramatists I not only had a wonderful time and met wonderful people, but I learned lessons I'll always treasure – about playwriting, about the theater, about what it means to be an artist. Sitting at the feet of other playwrights, marveling at the talents and spirit of fine actors – the experience changed me.” (Denis Johnson, playwright, winner of the National Book Award)

“It was scary for me, coming from the world of fiction where I feel truly comfortable, and entering the collaborative world of theatre. I am very much aware of how you made sure I was, at all times, comfortable and very much heard and understood. I will never forget that…the environment you set up in Healing Springs is not merely a creative community; it is a magical creative community. We felt lifted to a place of honor, as if the very fabric of society depended on what we were doing…and it does.” (Sharon Pomerantz, playwright)

“Healing Springs was a watershed experience. I’ve been through a good many developmental programs for playwrights in my career but never have I experienced so much growth in such a short period of time…Only New River Dramatists at Healing Springs is somehow infused with so much intensity, so much warmth and so much honesty that it has been given the rare and magical power to transform…It astonished me. It amazed me. It delighted me.” (Mark Eisman, playwright)

“I can't even begin to articulate how lucky I felt the entire time I was there. It was a wonderful experience. We produced what I have found to be some of the most intelligent, thought-provoking, dramatic plays in a long time. I have been part of such established programs as The Williamstown Theater Festival, Playwrights’ Horizons, New Dramatists and various others and can honestly say that your caliber of work is better.” (Royana Black, actor)

"One of the hardest-achieved goals for any playwright is to find a community, a welcoming context, in which to work on his or her plays. New River Dramatists provides exactly that, and with a sincerity of commitment I've rarely encountered...Those involved with NRD truly are the 'good people' that an artist, no matter where she or he may be in a career, is forever on the lookout for...The professionalism of all concerned is both high and consistent...it was an experience both valuable and unforgettable." (Lee Blessing, playwright)

"The creative and supportive environment of New River Dramatists is phenonomal. My two weeks in Healing Springs were the two most productive weeks of my life." (Joe McDonough, playwright)

“I’ve been marveling at Meir Ribalow as Artistic Director of New River Dramatists. For us, the playwrights, the result was perfection. His work ethic is contagious and inspiring. His insistence on using every opportunity to improve, enhance, and develop the work sometimes took a toll on us, but always to gratifying ends. It was always constructive, compassionate, and to the point.” (Rachel Urist, playwright)

"The quality of the writing that I encountered was nothing less than extraordinary....The discussions were frank and passionate, but unfailingly supportive and most importantly focused....I was awed to be with a group of artists I came to respect and enjoy so much as people... I have no doubt the New River Dramatists is going to flourish in the years to come and I will be deeply gratified to see that happen." (Patricia Randell, actor)

“My residency at New River Dramatists was truly an inspirational experience…What was especially unique was the attention and care given to the creation of a non-competitive yet rigorously insightful, cooperative, and gifted group of actors, writers and directors…Healing Springs will most certainly become one of the signature “birthing grounds” for the landmark plays of the new century.” (Cassandra Medley, playwright)

“My introduction to New River Dramatists was a note left behind on the table in my cabin. It read, 'whoever comes after, this is a very special place.' I could not put it better…as a past contributor to places like the O'Neill Playwrights’ Conference, New York Stage and Film, and New Dramatists, I must say that New River Dramatists has proved repeatedly to produce powerful new writing for the American theater. If you are lucky enough to be invited to participate, turn Meir and Mark down at your own peril! It is deeply refreshing to be in the company of these two men of the theater who put the creative fire first and foremost in their lives.” (Victor Slezak, actor)

“Unquestionably the best week of my life…who says dreams don't come true. The New River Dramatists project represents the truest and purest example of how theater should and must be made…it has been said in every generation that the theater is a dying art form. With continued support and sponsorship of your vision, to The New River Dramatists for decades to come, you will have done much to heal it.” (Leslie Carroll, actor/author)

“I know I am speaking for everyone who was there when I say this… something special happened on that mountain. Something wonderfully creative happened. And I am profoundly grateful for being there.” (Christopher Cass, actor)

"There are fine programs, but you gentlemen top them all because: (1) the level of criticism verges on the brilliant and goes right to the gut; (2) the astute selection of participants, towering talents all; and (3) this is unique - difficult issues are faced with lively near-scientific skill. Thus, the work grows deeper daily. Your methods stir up responses that linger in the mind. The stimulation of the days I spent with you continues to pay off... I've been producing volumes." (Arthur Giron, playwright)

"The New River Dramatists project is a simple yet brilliant idea. Putting talented creative people together with nothing to focus on but the creative process is the profoundly simple idea that every artist dreams of…You created an environment where truth prevailed over ego, and ego had no place at the table… Every element was conducive to the creative process… I know that if the uncaring could have stepped out of the New River Dramatists’ doors after their brains had finished exploding from such lively discussion to then look out over the mountain and inhale the beauty, the peace, the spirit of the place, then I know, the uncaring heart would transform itself into knowing and caring about the importance of the New River Dramatists project. This I know." (Dee Abdullah, actor)

“Its success astonished everyone who was there…Mark Woods (Founder) is the kind of guy who reminded me of why I got into this business in the first place.” (Stephen Collins, star of the hit TV show Seventh Heaven)

“Congratulations on the smashing success of project…The generosity, intelligence and focus of the group were striking…Your project distinguished itself from others in that, every other time I've worked on a new play, we've had a deadline…If something worked 'well enough,' we'd have to move on. In North Carolina, without this deadline (and with the right artists listening with passion and razor-sharp focus) we were able to really examine every line, minutely sensing wherever the temperature of the play dropped… the results are thrilling.” (Elaine Bromka, actor)

“The work we did in two weeks was ten years ahead of the schedule I had foreseen…we took risks that I had been afraid to dream were possible, let alone The New River Dramatists project at Healing Springs, then, is much more to me than a physical place in the Blue Ridge Mountains where brilliant work is done by the best theatrical artists of our generation. It is a living testament to the universal truth that we, all of us, have within us the power of God. The power to heal. The power to create. The power to dream. I will spread the word that your Heaven exists.”(Damon DiMarco, actor/playwright)