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Drama League Announces 2016 Artists-in-Residence; New Works to Feature Duncan Sheik & More

The Drama League has announced the artists and theater ensembles chosen to develop new plays and musicals as part of the 2016 Artist Residency Program. The development of new works will include works with contributions from Tony© and Grammy© Award-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), and a rediscovered play by Obie©-winning legendary playwright Adrienne Kennedy. This year's program welcomes, for the first time ever, International Artists-in-Residence:Yasen Vassilev from Bulgaria, and Catinca Draganescu and Valentina Zaharia from Romania. Public readings, developmental experiments and more will be held throughout the year at The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas) in Tribeca. Schedules and dates are available at or by calling (212) 244-9494.

The Drama League Artist Residency Program, made possible in part by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, offers director/collaborator teams and/or ensembles an opportunity to comfortably develop a new theatre piece as artists-in-residence at the Drama League Theater Center in Tribeca, where the program has been expanded into three stages of development: early development (Rough Draft), mid-development (First Stage) and late development (Next Stage). A residency stipend, rehearsal space, professional mentorship, administrative support, and community engagement allow selected artists to fully inhabit an extended, process-oriented residency experience.

Initiated in 2013, The Drama League Artist Residency Program has already developed many award-winning productions, including The TEAM'sRoosevElvis (Vineyard Theatre, London's Royal Court Theatre); Ripe Time's The World Is Round (BAM); Rady&Bloom's The Upper Room (New Ohio Theatre); Georama (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); and Piehole's Hand Foot Fizzle Face (JACK).

"The Drama League received quadruple the number of applications in 2016 over last year's cycle, demonstrating a clear need for artists to find a nurturing creative home," stated Executive Director Gabriel Shanks. "The 27 selected projects have transformative potential for theatre communities worldwide; it's our imperative to support them with everything we can, so they reach that potential."

Many of the artists in the program will offer readings, experiments, and other insights into their creative process at public events throughout the year.

The 2016 Drama League Artist Residency Program Recipients

Artist-in-Residence: Jaki Bradley
Playing Hot
Written by Keven Armento
Directed by Jaki Bradley

An interdisciplinary mediation on the birth of jazz in New Orleans, Playing Hot is a riff on the story of Buddy Bolden, the turn-of-the-century trumpeter who is credited with discovering the sound of the great American art form...before his abrupt breakdown, which caused him to spend the last three decades of his life in an asylum. Playing Hot explores questions of appropriation, the cult of celebrity, and how a first-generation free African-American had the revolutionary idea to deviate from the notes of the page.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Catinca Draganescu and Valentina Zaharia
Raw Vegan
Created and Directed by Catinca Draganescu and Valentina Zaharia

Raw Vegan investigates the plight of the 'bedanta' in contemporary Romania. 'Bedantas' are women who, forced by economic circumstances, leave their children in Romania to be raised by relatives while they travel to find work as servants in Italy, Spain and elsewhere. Often suffering language and cultural barriers, these women find themselves subjected to rampant violence, rape, and crime as they try to support their families back home. Raw Vegan is a supported project of The Drama League's U.S./Romania Stage Directors Exchange.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Wes Grantom
Angelo Solliman
Book, Music and Lyrics by Matt Citron
Directed by Wes Grantom

Chronicling the meteoric rise of the first black Freemason in Hapsburg, Vienna - from house servant to trusted confidante of Emperor Joseph II - Angelo Solliman sees its hero ascend to the heights of 18th-century European society...only to have his remains after his death skinned, stuffed and put on display as an African tribesman in the Imperial Natural History collection.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Ellie Heyman and Yasen Vassilev
Elevation 506
Written by Yasen Vassilev
Directed by Ellie Heyman

Elevation 506 is a documentary physical-theatre piece inspired by the life and murder of Bulgaria's first Expressionist poet, Geo Milev. Through a collage of government documents, personal letters, court transcripts, and Milev's poetry, the piece explores creative expression in a restrictive political environment. Elevation 506 is a supported project of The Drama League's U.S./Bulgaria Stage Directors Exchange.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Kay Maschullat
Adapted and Written by Olivier Kemeid
Music by Duncan Sheik
Directed by Kay Maschullat
Movement by Tracy Bersley

Transporting Virgil's original epic into a gripping contemporary context, this Aeneid finds its inspiration in the young idealists who initiated the Arab Spring. Aeneas' timeless challenges, however, echo the yearning and trauma across the globe today, embodying the tragedy and the hope of our moment. Featuring songs by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening).

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: David Mendizábal
And She Would Stand Like This
Written by Harrison David Rivers
Directed by David Mendizábal

Based on Euripides' The Trojan Women and set in a hospital waiting room during a mysterious plague, And She Would Stand Like This takes the downfall of Queen Hecuba and her daughters and recontextualizes it as queer Black/Latino men and Transgender women who await their fate after the emergence of an unknown and deadly virus. Conceived as an immersive theatrical experience, the piece slams together Euripides and the conventions of drag ball culture: voguing, runway and house music and ball families.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Pirronne Yousefzadeh
I Am Gordafarid
Conceived and Created by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

Inspired by the 10th-century epic poem "The Shahnameh" by Ferdowsi, as well as the life of Fatemeh Habibizad, Iran's first recorded female naqqla (oral storyteller), I Am Gordafarid brings together a team of female Iranian theatre artists to explore the juxtaposition between ancient tales and contemporary life. The character of Gordafarid, a female warrior who disguises herself as a man and saves Persia from invasion, finds new life filtered through film noir, westerns, action movies, and romantic comedy traditions.

* * * * *


Artist-in-Residence: Katherine Carter
Big Deep Blue
Book, Music and lyrics by Neil Douglas Reilly and Maggie Herskowitz
Directed by Katherine M. Carter

Imagine: each day, a memory drifts away. At first, you chalk it up to forgetfulness or getting older. Then, not so suddenly, you don't remember how to get home, or your favorite restaurant, or the person next to you. This is Alzheimer's disease.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Nathaniel P. Claridad
Endangered Species
Written by Nilan Johnson
Directed by Nathaniel P. Claridad

A hilariously scathing new play about racial identity, Endangered Species explores what happens when Black culture is abandoned for the safety of the normative. What remains when history, context, and culture disappears?

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Christie Marie Clark
L'Appel du Vide
Created and Directed by Christie Marie Clark

Jumping off from interviews with teachers who have lost students to street violence or the growing pipeline to prison, L'Appel du Vide explores what pulls (or pushes) so many young people toward the edge of the void. Told from the perspective of the educators who give everything they can to bright young minds, the piece explores voices rarely heard. Ms. Clark's inspirations include Tyrell and Amir, two of her own former students.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Brandon Ivie
Untitled Gun Control Play
Written by Kat Ramsburg
Directed by Brandon Ivie

As of October 15, 2015, there have been 52 school shootings in 2015. Playwright Kat Ramsburg, personally connected to two of these dreaded events, juxtaposes the lack of political action on gun violence with the presence of two students, now dead, who exist somewhere in the in-between. Utilizing verbatim testimony from Senate hearings, defeated Congressional bills, and more, the play seeks to uncover why so little is done to overcome one of our nation's greatest ongoing tragedies.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Katie Lupica
Diary of Lights: New York About 1955
Written by Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Katie Lupica

Only staged in academic settings in 1978 and 1987, this play by the legendary Adrienne Kennedy is being developed, with the blessing of the author, by a new generation of artists. At turns rapturous, lyrical, devastating and brutal, the semi-autobiographical work follows the young African-American woman Billie, her husband, and a troupe of friends in a summer night's haze of language, music and dance through hotspots of 1950's culture.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan
The Body!
Created and Directed by Maggie Keenan-Bolger and Rachel Sullivan

Bringing together nearly two dozen cis-women and trans people -- both theatre professionals and community-based performers -- this piece explores body image, body policing, affirmation surgery, nutrition, abilities, sexualization and desexualization, body diversity, and more.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Michelle Tattenbaum
Written by Sarah Saltwick
Directed by Michelle Tattenbaum

A story of violence against women and the legacy it carries through a lifetime, Europa follows two women, Leslie and Alma, who meet in a neighborhood park. As their young children play, the women discover a devastating truth: that Leslie's husband Bruce, now a famous film director, is the man who raped Alma while both were in college.

* * *

Artist-in-Residence: Hondo Weiss-Richmond
The Consensus Play
Written by Hondo Weiss-Richmond and Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Hondo Weiss-Richmond

An uncomfortable comedy about co-op life, The Consensus Play was inspired by Hondo Weiss-Richmond's experience at Oberlin College living in the Tank Co-Op, a sprawling three-story Victorian house, where all residents make decisions through a consensus process. This requires the entire group to agree...and where any matter in question can be scuttled entirely if one person raises a "major objection." Tears, walkouts, and ridiculousness reveal a keenly-observed humor about communicating and sharing in the 21st century.

* * * * *


Curated by Michael Goldfried, The Drama League Rough Draft series allows directors to explore the earliest developmental stages of working on a new play, musical or devised project in a one-day residency in The Drama League Theater Center.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2016 AT 7:00PM
Director-in-Residence: Whitney White
Great Hill Mouth

Bringing together nearly two dozen cis-women and trans people -- both theatre professionals and community-based performers -- this piece explores body image, body policing, affirmation surgery, nutrition, abilities, sexualization and desexualization, body diversity, and more.

* * *

Director-in-Residence: Danya Taymor
The Nothing Hole

Lila's sick of it. Waiting tables. Making zilch. Not a good man in sight. But a pig and a promise just came crashing through the roof. And now a handsome huckster named Budd wants to sweep her away on the adventure of a lifetime. Just help him run a con. Just give these stingy drifters what they've always had coming. At one dumpy diner, deep in the recesses of the empty American West, Lila and Budd scam their way into serving up every hungry acolyte's dream. Or so they think.

Rough Draft occurs each month at The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas, New York City); additional projects for 2016 will be announced at

For additional information, please visit the website at

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