- Written by Jacob Coakley
- Published: 19 April 2011
New Dramatists, a national leader in playwright support and advocacy, is no stranger to the hurdles facing playwrights today. In addition to its mission to support new playwrights and give them the space to develop, the artistic director, Todd London, was co-author of Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play. Now they’ve taken their intimate knowledge of what a play and playwright needs to get produced, as well as how the system for new works functions in America, and teamed with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a new program called Full Stage USA. Full Stage will partner with a group of theatres across the country, and match them with playwrights. The playwrights will receive a $25,000 commission to write a new play, and the theatres will receive $50,000 in grants from New Dramatists to support production. Full details on how the program will work, and the theatres that will be involved are below.
NEW DRAMATISTS ANNOUNCES FULL STAGE USA
New Dramatists, the 61-year-old artistic home and developmental laboratory for 50 of America’s finest professional playwrights, proudly announces Full Stage USA. One of the most extensive commission-development-production initiatives ever tried in the not-for-profit theatre, Full Stage will forge partnerships with an eclectic constellation of producing theatres or networks of producing theatres across the country to explore new models of play creation and production. Playwrights will receive sizeable commissions of $25,000 and the partner theatres will receive up to $50,000 grants through New Dramatists to support production. Full Stage USA is underwritten by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Each Full Stage partnership begins in the conception and design of the collaboration itself. Playwrights, selected by the theatres, are then commissioned to create a new script. Each writer receives up to two years of enhanced exploratory lab time at New Dramatists. This developmental work culminates in a full production staged with the partner theatre, as well as support for future productions and the play’s continued life. Full Stage USA marries what New Dramatists does best—developing playwrights and plays—with what theatres do best—producing them.
“Full Stage USA is our creative response to the tired notion that new play development in America has dead-ended,” explains Todd London, New Dramatists artistic director. “Our playwrights led us to some of the theatres that they feel collaborate most vigorously and compassionately with writers, in order to team up to support the full life of new work, from creation to production. For years we’ve seen the miraculous results of writers leading their own developmental processes. For years we’ve been inspired by our producing colleagues who make more vital theatre by investing more completely in the writer’s freedom. Full Stage USA is designed to aid that process at both ends—supporting the writer’s most fully elaborated vision and helping the theatres realize that vision in the most creative possible ways. We’re thrilled to be embarking on this new play adventure with Cornerstone, the National New Play Network, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Rep and a whole gang of alternative theatres in Austin.”
Full Stage USA is launching with the following partner theatres:
Austin, TX—A loosely affiliated, mutually supportive group of small theatre companies and service organizations including: Austin Scriptworks, Fusebox Festival, Physical Plant Theater, Rubber Rep, the Rude Mechanicals, Salvage Vanguard and University of Texas at Austin, to create a collaborative piece with music from the vital Austin scene.
Cornerstone Theater Company—Cornerstone will bring a playwright to work with a company of professional and non-professional actors to create a play around an issue of social justice that has resonance within a specific Los Angeles community. The Lab at New Dramatists will allow for an additional kind of script development, distinct from the community-based process at which Cornerstone excels.
National New Play Network (NNPN)—Building on the existing Continued Life of New Plays Fund which presents rolling world premieres of a single play, this partnership will represent the first time that the Network has commissioned, developed and produced a play collectively.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF)—Through its Black Swan Lab, the New Dramatists playwright will create a play specifically for the OSF acting company, one of the few remaining large, salaried companies in the United States.
Yale Repertory Theatre—Yale Rep will partner with an ND company playwright and a composer of his or her choice, to develop a large-scale project. In an expanding area of artistic development for Yale, they will commission a musical.
The five producing partners were selected after 18-months of research, interviews, conversations and site visits with approximately 30 theatres/potential partners across the country by a task force that included artistic staff and New Dramatists current resident playwrights.
The Full Stage USA partnerships are beginning in a rolling fashion. NNPN has recently announced that they will be working with New Dramatists resident playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The Austin-based companies will hold their first developmental “pig pile” with ND resident playwright Sibyl Kempson this spring. Yale Rep will collaborate with ND resident playwright Carson Kreitzer and composer Matt Gould on a new musical. The tentative timeline for writer selection for OSF and Cornerstone is summer 2011.
Full Stage USA builds on a successful local component of the program, Full Stage NYC, which served as a pilot version of the national program. During the 2009-2010 season, with major support from the City of New York Theater Sub-district Council, LDC, the City of New York and Time Warner, three New Dramatists playwrights collaborated with three of New York’s most adventurous theatre companies, all well-versed in mounting new work. All three projects have moved onto production:
The National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) produced Jordan Harrison’s Futura in fall 2010. As part of a rolling multi-city premiere, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Pasadena, CA, mounted a production in fall 2010 and Portland Center Stage, Portland, OR, just closed its run of Futura.
Soho Rep finished a successful run of Jomama Jones RADIATE by Daniel Alexander Jones this winter. A national tour is currently being scheduled for the spring.
New Georges will produce Sylvan Oswald’s Nightlands in fall 2011.
Sibyl Kempson, a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2010, lives and works in New York City and the Pocono Mountains. Plays include, Crime or Emergency (Great Plains Theatre Conference Omaha, Fusebox Festival Austin, P.S. 122, Soho Rep, Dixon Place); Potatoes of August (Dixon Place); Zeit af der KürbisGeistNachten (Dixon Place, dir. Jessica Brater); The Secret Death of Puppets (CATCH! Series, Little Theater); (In)communicable, (Con)Genital, Incommensurable (Bring a Weasel Festival); Bad Girls, Good Writers (Brick Theatre, dir. Shoni Currier); The Wytche of Problymm Plantation (Dixon Place) and many others. Her work is published by the 53rd State Press/Ugly Duckling Presse, Play A Journal of Plays, the Brooklyn Review, Midway Literary Journal, i-theatron and Semiotext(e) Native Agents/MIT Press. Founding member, Joyce Cho Initiative, an affiliation of playwrights dedicated to the staging of problem plays. Founding member, Machiqq Women’s Auxiliary Playwriting Group. Grants and commissions include, Mondo Cane! Commissions, Dixon Place: 2011, 2008, 2007, 2002, including grants from Greenwall Foundation, Peg Santvoord Foundation, Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, NYSCA, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Exchange Program. MacDowell Colony Fellow, 2010. Individual grant support from Greenwall Foundation, 2009. Leah Ryan Foundation Award for Emerging Women Playwrights, 2010 Finalist. Spalding Gray Award for Solo Performance, 2008 Nominee. Arnold L. Weissberger Award, 2006 Nominee. Numerous awards and scholarships at Brooklyn College, including the Pizer Graduate Colloquium Prize, the Rose Goldstein Memorial Scholarship, the Himan Brown Scholarship, the Louis B. Goodman Award and the English Department Scholarship for Excellence in Creative Writing. She has performed in NYC and internationally in collaboration with New York City Players, Elevator Repair Service and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, as well as in her own plays. BA Drama, Bennington College, 1995. MFA Playwriting, Brooklyn College, 2007.
Carson Kreitzer has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2006. Her play, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer won the Lois and Richard Rosenthal New Play Prize, the American Theatre Critics’ Steinberg Citation, the Barrie Stavis Award and is published in Smith and Kraus’ New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2004 and by Dramatic Publishing. Self Defense, or death of some salesmen has been produced across the country and is published by Playscripts, Inc. and in Smith and Kraus’ Women Playwrights: Best Plays of 2002. Other work includes: 1:23, Flesh and the Desert, The Slow Drag (New York and London), Freakshow, Slither, Dead Wait and Take My Breath Away, featured in BAM’s 1997 Next Wave Festival. Grants: NYFA, NYSCA, NEA, TCG, Jerome and McKnight Foundations, the Frederick Loewe Award in Music-Theatre. Commissions: Guthrie Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Next Theatre. BA: Yale University. MFA: Michener Center for Writers, UT Austin. Ms. Kreitzer is an associate artist with Clubbed Thumb, New Georges and the Fire Department and a member of The Workhaus Collective, The Playwrights’ Center and the Dramatists Guild. She recently finished a year as the first Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center and a year as a McKnight fellow in her current city, Minneapolis.
Matt Gould’s Witness Uganda (co-written with Griffin Matthews) is the recipient of ASCAP’s Dean Kay Award and Harold Adamson Award and has received a Disney/ASCAP workshop with Stephen Schwartz and a workshop at the Vineyard Arts Project. Matt is also working on a commission for Yale Rep with playwright Carson Kreitzer on a new musical called Lempicka. He wrote and directed Free Style for LA’s REPRISE Theatre Company (commissioned by Jason Alexander), wrote Twilight in Manchego (directed by Billy Porter) in the NYMF (Jonathan Larson Foundation Award), was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons to write music for Lucy Thurber’s Dillingham City, composed music for Dreyfus In Rehearsal (Off-Broadway) and translated, adapted and directed Romeo and Juliet in Pulaar (Mauritania, West Africa.) He was a composing fellow in New Dramatist’s Composer/Librettist studio and has composed and arranged music for Grammy Winner Desmond Child, Terrence McNally, Vanessa Williams and more. His music has been performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Saban Theatre (LA), Symphony Space (NYC), Joe’s Pub, New World Stages, Huntington Theatre Company (Boston), Rattlestick and The Duplex (NYC). www.mattgouldinc.com.
Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2010, is a San Francisco-based playwright whose works include, boom (TCG’s most produced play 2009- 10); T.I.C. (Trenchcoat In Common); Hunter Gatherers (2007 ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, 2007 Will Glickman Prize); Colorado; and Multiplex. His work has been seen off-Broadway and across the country including at Ars Nova, SPF, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Public Theatre, Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep, Wellfleet Harbor. Actors Theatre, Dad’s Garage; and in the Bay Area at Encore Theatre, Killing My Lobster, Marin Theatre Company, Impact Theatre and The Bay Area Playwrights Festival. His newest plays are BOB, a South Coast Rep commission and Litter, a commission for A.C.T.. Peter holds a degree in Theater and Biology from Brown and an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Peter is a member of New Dramatists, a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco and a resident playwright of the Z Space Studio in San Francisco. He likes to promote himself online at www.peternachtrieb.com.
For more information on New Dramatists, please visit www.newdramatists.org.