TERRA FIRMA, Written by Barbara Hammond, Selected for Baruch College’s 2019/2020 Season

Baruch Performing Arts Center at Baruch College announces its 2019-20 Season of music, theatre, dance, opera and more, a season spanning genres and cultural influences, rich in imagination and ideas.

Terra Firma *World Premiere*

September 27 – November 10, 2019

Co-presented with The COOP

In a not-so-distant Beckettian future, years after The Big War, a tiny kingdom wrestles with the problems of running a nation, sparring with the concepts of what makes a citizen, a country and a civilization. The play is inspired by real life events: In the 1960’s a retired army major in the United Kingdom claimed an abandoned aircraft platform in international waters off the coast of Essex as a sovereign nation, planted his flag, declared his wife Princess and their motto E Mare Libertas! ‘From the Sea, Freedom!” Written by award winning New Dramatist resident Barbara Hammond, and directed by Shana Cooper (Princess Grace Award), Terra Firma was originally commissioned by The Royal Court, Britain’s premier company for cultivating new plays. The COOP is a new company founded by established New York artists Andrus Nichols (Bedlam’s Saint Joan, Sense & Sensibility; “I’m beginning to think she can do anything.” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times) and Kate Hamill(Playwright of the Year -2017 – The Wall Street Journal, author of Sense & Sensibility, Vanity Fair, Little Women).

Read the full announcement from Broadway World here.

Dawn Monique Williams, Oakland Native, Named Associate Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company

Aurora Theatre Company announced today that it has hired award-winning Oakland-native Dawn Monique Williams as the company’s first ever Associate Artistic Director. Williams will fill the position that incoming Artistic Director Josh Costello will leave vacant. In addition to literary management and artistic support, this new full-time position will also encompass Aurora’s new community partner program and community engagement initiatives. Williams starts August 2019.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to bring Dawn Monique Williams on board as Aurora’s first Associate Artistic Director,” said Costello. “Dawn is a visionary director who is building a national reputation with her work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and elsewhere. She’s also a first-class arts leader. I can’t imagine a more ideal artistic partner to join me in leading Aurora into its next chapter.”

Williams brings 20+ years directing and arts experience to Aurora. Most recently, she spent six seasons as Artistic Associate and a resident artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she ran the professional development program and directed such titles as The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet. Williams has worked in theatres across the country, including HERE Arts Center, Profile Theatre (Portland), American Conservatory Theatre, Chautauqua Theater Company, and African American Shakespeare Company, among others. Her recent credits include The Secretaries (Willamette Week’s Top 10 Portland Theatre Productions of 2018), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Piano Lesson, and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

Williams said: “Joining the artistic staff at Aurora is thrilling. I think Josh has a great vision for Aurora’s future, in particular, civic engagement. I am honored that Josh invited me to join this team and is trusting me to build and cultivate new partnerships with our neighbors in our community and within the region. As someone with deep roots in Berkeley-my parents met here, I was raised in south Berkeley, my daughter was born here-this opportunity to keep the art in conversation with the community is particularly special. The homecoming is full circle in many ways…I was a drama kid at Berkeley High after all.”

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

Audrey Cefaly Featured on THE SUBTEXT Podcast

The Subtext is a podcast where playwrights talk to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In a conversation that dives into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires, and ultimately what makes writers tick.

This month on The Subtext, Brian speaks with Audrey Cefaly and Lisa Langford while attending the National New Play Network Showcase in December of 2018.

Audrey Cefaly.

Up first is Audrey Cefaly. Cefaly has developed plays with the National New Play Network, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Signature Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, Aurora Theatre, Florida Rep, Theater Alliance, Quotidian Theatre Company, University of Alabama – Birmingham, and Contemporary American Theater Festival. She is published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, and Applause Books. She is a member of the 2019 Playwrights’ Arena cohort at Arena Stage and was recently named a Traveling Master by the Dramatists Guild Foundation. She is an outspoken proponent of silence in storytelling and has authored numerous articles on the topic of playwriting for HowlRound and Samuel French’s Breaking Character magazine.

Brian and Audrey talk about supporting the people around you when acceptance/rejection season arrives, and the importance of finding fellow travelers who support your work. Their conversation takes place only hours before the showcase of Audrey’s play Alabaster, and they discuss the stakes of the reading and what she hopes may come of it (listen to find out the aftermath of the reading).

Read the full article, and listen to the podcast here.

France Luce-Benson Named One of Camargo Foundation’s Cultural Diaspora 2018 Fellows

Camargo Foundation’s Cultural Diaspora 2018 Fellows Participate
in Afro-Atlantic Playwright Festival (Minneapolis, July 12–14, 2019) 
Playwrights from Africa and the U.S. share new works and perspectives

In 2018, France-Luce Benson was one of the winning playwrights who convened in Cassis, France to participate in the Camargo Foundation’s Cultural Diaspora residency, conceived and curated by award-winning Minneapolis-based playwright Carlyle Brown. The residency’s goal was to bring together mid-career and established African and African-American theater artists, in Brown’s words, “from opposite ends of the Africanist Diaspora,” engaging them in debates about identity and authenticity and exploring the different ways in which international boundaries shape the African experience.

As a measure of the residency’s success, the Cultural Diaspora has inspired the Afro-Atlantic Playwright Festival (Minneapolis, July 12–14, 2019). A collaboration of the Camargo Foundation, the Playwrights’ Center, and Carlyle Brown & Company, the festival will feature workshops, a panel discussion on theater and Afro-Atlantic culture, and stage readings of the works completed at Camargo.

France-Luce Benson, whose work will be featured in Minneapolis this July, is an award-winning playwright of Haitian descent, currently based in Los Angeles and New York. Her plays have had productions and workshops at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Bishop Arts Theatre, the Fire This Time Festival, City Theatre Miami, Crossroads Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and the Lark, among others. Honors include: Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Miranda Foundation grant recipient, Zoetrope Grand prize, Alfred P. Sloan commission, Sam French OOB Festival winner, Princess Grace Award (runner up), NNPN Best New Play, and residencies at Djerassi and SPACE/Ryder Farm. About her work, she says, “My plays explore the black American narrative from my perspective as a first generation Haitian-American, born in Republic of Congo, and raised in Miami. My characters often struggle with displacement, identity, and the impacts of trauma.” While a resident at Camargo, she worked on part 2 of Deux Femmes on the Edge of a Revolution, a trilogy about the Haitian revolution. She intends to complete the trilogy during her residency at the Sacatar Foundation in Brazil later this year.

The festival, free and open to the public, will take place at the Playwrights’ Center, renowned for supporting playwrights and promoting new plays to production at theaters across the U.S. While at Camargo, fellows had the opportunity to meet African-European artists, work with local theater students, and participate in a roundtable discussion entitled “African and Afro-Descendent Writing,” which was presented as part of the Festival de Marseille and Massilia Afropea. In Minneapolis, they will discuss the impact of these experiences on their work and debate various conceptual and cultural facets of African diaspora studies. A second event will take place in New York in Fall 2019, in collaboration with NYU’s Department of Literature and Tisch Theatre Studies program.

EllaRose Chary Chosen Among 27 Others For Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Founding Executive Director Kathy Evans announced the 27 writers of nine new musicals for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s summer weeklong residencies. 

The nine musicals were selected from 160 applications, which were reviewed by 27 readers in the first round and, in the final round, six new musical experts who are members of Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s Sounding Board: Tory Bailey, Executive Director of the Theatre Development Fund; Neil Bartram, Composer; Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons; Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director, TheatreWorks USA; Natasha Sinha, Director of Artistic Programs, Signature Theatre; and Steve Stettler, former Producing Artistic Director, Weston Playhouse.

For nine consecutive weeks beginning June 30, each writing team is awarded a private weeklong residency in the Hudson Valley to focus solely on writing their musical. Writers are provided a home, transportation, food, and a stipend, and all their costs are covered by Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s donors. 

· August 4 – August 11: Brandon James Gwinn, EllaRose Chary, and Sherri Eden Barber, TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix, with Lead Support from Liz Armstrong

Read more about the retreat and other writers chosen from Broadway World here.