FST Announces the Playwrights Project Featuring Tom Gibbons, Bruce Graham, Sarah Bierstock & Jason Odell Williams

The Playwrights Project is Florida Studio Theatre’s newest artistic initiative, employing 33 of the country’s top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers, including Tom Gibbons, Bruce Graham, Sarah Bierstock, and Jason Odell Williams, as full-time staff writers. Over the course of this eight-week project, each artist will write and deliver a first draft of an original play, sketch comedy piece, or cabaret. The material generated during this time will be considered for future production in FST’s Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, and Children’s Theatre programs.

In addition to working as staff writers, Playwrights Project artists will enhance FST’s online educational offerings by leading workshops, tutorials, and contributing to virtual classes. The artists will also participate in online forum discussions and special Q&A sessions with small invited audiences.

For more about the Playwrights Project, click here.

“The project was conceived within the first few days of the theater shutting down due to COVID-19,” said Richard Hopkins, FST’s producing artistic director. “FST, like the rest of our nation, was brought to a sudden standstill. Three days after closing the theater, I had a revelation about Shakespeare — he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity’s complexities without judgment.”

Read more about this from the Venice Gondolier here.

Playwrights’ Center Announces 2020-23 Core Writers including Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

The Playwrights’ Center has announced seven playwrights who will be company’s 2020-23 Core Writers. Sharon Bridgforth, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, Andrew Rosendorf, Riti Sachdeva, Charly Evon Simpson, Crystal Skillman, and Jonathan Spector will join the program aimed at supporting playwrights who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence.

“I am so excited to welcome back Andrew and Riti to the Center as well as welcome Deen, Charly, Crystal, Sharon, and Jonathan—all of whose work I have deeply admired for a long time,” said producing artistic director Jeremy B. Cohen in a statement. “They are all incredible writers, and I look forward to seeing each of them grow as artists over the next three years.”

During the three-year tenure, Core Writers receive play development workshops, the opportunity to be part of the PlayLabs festival or the Ruth Easton New Play Series, and the chance to connect with Playwrights’ Center’s network of producing theatres.

Deen is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a 2019 Lambda Literary Award Winner. His full-length plays include Flood (upcoming; Kansas City Rep, 2021), The Empty Place (NYU commission), The Betterment Society (upcoming publication), The Shaking Earth (postponed production, National Queer Theater, 2021), and Draw the Circle (productions: PlayMakers, Mosaic, Rattlestick; published: DPS; winner Lambda Literary Award).

Read the full article from American Theatre here.

Congratulations Deneen Reynolds-Knott! Your play, BABES IN HO-LLAND has been selected for the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival!

Playwrights Foundation, the West Coast’s premiere launchpad for exceptional plays and playwrights announces the lineup for the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF), featuring playwrights Tyler English-Beckwith, Stefani Kuo, Jordan Ramirez Puckett, Deneen Reynolds-Knott, and Noelle Viñas. The 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival runs July 17-26, 2020 in an online format worldwide . The Festival offers public readings in addition to panel discussions and surrounding online events on Facebook Live. Pay What You Can tickets will go on sale starting June 1st.

The 43rd Annual festival is Playwrights Foundation’s Executive Artistic Director Jessica Bird Beza’s first. “The move to an all online experience for both artists and audience is in a way a paradigm shift,” says Bird Beza, ” I am excited for the opportunities this moment presents to create a wider access and platform for these much needed stories of love, perseverance, and self discovery to be heard.” As the nature of theater and theatricality changes, Playwrights Foundation continues to be dedicated to emerging playwrights and the development of new work. Selected out of 735 submissions, this year’s lineup consists of an all female group of playwrights whose voices have a platform.

Deneen Reynolds-Knott is a member of Clubbed Thumb‘s 2019-2020 Early-Career Writers’ Group and received a finalist grant from their 2018 Open-Application Commission. She is a New Georges affiliated artist and has developed work with Liberation Theatre Company’s Writing Residency, Project Y’s Playwrights Group, Rising Circle’s INKtank Development Lab and Frank Silvera Workshop’s 3in3 Playwright Residency. Her full-length play, BATON, was selected for the 2018 Premiere Play Festival and received a workshop reading at Premiere Stages, the 2017 Playfest at the Orlando Shakespeare Company, and was a finalist for the 2017 PlayPenn and Bay Area Playwrights conferences. Deneen’s play, ANTEPARTUM, was presented at the 2020 Fire This Time Festival as part of their signature ten-minute play program. She received her MFA in film from Columbia University.

Read the full article from Broadway World San Francisco here.

Psalmayene 24 Receives Mellon Foundation Award for 3 Year Residency at Mosaic Theater

Just announced – Psalmayene 24 will join Mosaic Theater’s Senior Artistic Staff where, over the next three years, the DC playwright and director will create new works, participate in Mosaic’s community outreach programs and audience interactions and initiate a new Directors/Playwrights Cohort. This is being made possible by an award from The National Playwright Residency Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in collaboration with HowlRound Theatre Commons. The program provides salary and benefits for three years. The residency begins July 1, 2020.

Playwright/director Psalmayene 24, new resident artist at Mosaic Theater Company of DC (Photo: Scott Suchman)

Psalmayene 24, responding to the announcement: “In many respects, I am a native son of the community that Mosaic Theater serves. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York, and now having lived in the Washington, DC area for more than half of my life—over 25 years—I proudly call DC my home. I came of age, as a man and an artist, in DC. I wrote my first play in DC. I met my wife in DC. So, as my adopted hometown, I feel a strong connection to many of the theaters in the DC area—especially Mosaic. True to its name, Mosaic is a theater with a wonderfully diverse audience. As someone who grew up in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn during a time when it was a beacon of multiculturalism, I feel most at home in communities where diversity reigns supreme. (And when I say diversity, I mean diversity of all types: race, class, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) As an artist who sees myself as an integral member of the community that Mosaic serves, it is my belief that I am well qualified to represent authentic creative impulses that reflect the spirit of this community.

“My intention is to impact this community through the National Playwright Residency Program by creating plays that act as a reflective prism meant to reveal and illuminate the soul of the community. There is a validation that occurs when people see a play that speaks to their particular experience. Plays have the ability to feed parts of the human spirit that we didn’t know were malnourished. When plays voice the humanity of a specific community, these plays have the potential to sing in harmony with universal yearnings that connect us all.”

Mosaic Theater describes the proposed projects on the drawing boards : “Mosaic is excited to help develop a new project already in the drafting stage, written and to be performed by the author himself, entitled Dear Mapel, based on the Psalmayene 24’s letters (actual and imagined) to the deceased father he hardly knew, sharing a coming-of-age story within a coming-to-terms hole in his heart. Additional projects include a hip-hop theatrical portrait of DC’s controversial “Mayor For Life,” Marion Barry. Just as provocative and dynamic is The Street Corridor Initiative, a showcasing of proud DC voices culled from interviews of residents along H Street where Mosaic performs, focusing on two public transport vessels bringing residents up and down the corridor; the infamous X-2 bus and the newer, suspiciously regarded play-toy of gentrification, the DC Streetcar.

“Another proposed work, Freedom Strike, tells the story of a Black performance artist who cuts off the head of Abraham Lincoln from the Emancipation Statue—a controversial DC statue of a freed Black man and Abraham Lincoln. The play will investigate the cost of freedom on the Black body. Additionally, Psalmayene 24 will return to the work that initiated his literary relationship with Mosaic, Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native Son, a reimagining of the meeting between author Richard Wright and essayist James Baldwin, originally commissioned as a response piece to Nambi  Kelley’s adaptation of Native Son, which Psalm directed as part of Mosaic’s “Native Son Rep.” Entertaining and vital, a streamlined text and staging of Les Deux Noirs will be fashioned to make the production more wieldy for touring through our “Mosaic on the Move” initiative, and for future productions to come.”

Article by Lorraine Treanor for DCTheatreScene.com.