Studio Theatre Announces Studio R&D Commissioned Playwrights & Directors

By: Jan. 15, 2019

Studio Theatre Announces Studio R&D Commissioned Playwrights & Directors

Building on 40 years of producing powerful contemporary theatre, Studio Theatre is pleased to announce a new class of commissioned playwrights and directors to Studio R&D, its incubator to support the creation of new work from inception to first production. Incoming Studio R&D artists are playwrights James Fritz, James Ijames, Steph Del Rosso, and Emily Schwend, as well as directors Carl Cofield, Lila Neugebauer, and Eric Ruffin. These exciting talents from the US and UK will have Studio's full support in creating aesthetically diverse new work to be presented in future seasons and introduced into the international repertoire. As they create Studio-specific works, commissioned artists will visit Studio to get to know its theatres, programming, and audiences in person.

Studio's Artistic Director David Muse introduced the Studio R&D commissioning program in 2012, inviting new and established writers to develop work for the theatre's intimate spaces. Past commissions include: Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Vivienne Franzmann, Rachel Bonds, Clare Lizzimore, Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, Ike Holter, Aaron Posner, Sarah DeLappe, Abe Koogler, Qui Nguyen, Steph Del Rosso, Adam Bock, Emily Schwend, James Ijames, and James Fritz. In 2016, Studio began extending commissions to directors, which have included Lileana Blain-Cruz, Mike Donahue, and Jackson Gay.


Studio's intimate spaces are uniquely suited to the immediacy of new work, providing a direct relationship between the actor and audience. Studio R&D is our incubator for new plays, new relationships, and new modes of collaboration. Encompassing the full range of Studio's commissioning and development activities, Studio R&D supports artists through both the writing and development of their work, offering commissions, residencies, and artistic retreats for its artists. Studio R&D provides artists the resources and tools they need to create, and allows Studio to introduce aesthetically diverse new work into the international repertoire. It develops new work, fosters a culture of innovation that embraces rigor and risk-taking, and invests in new ideas and new ways of working.


James Fritz's first full-length play, Four Minutes Twelve Seconds premiered at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in 2014 and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in 2015; James won the "Most Promising Playwright" prize at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards 2015, on the heels of its production. His other plays include Ross & Rachel ("a virtuosic piece of writing," Time Out) which opened to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015, Parliament Square which won a Bruntwood Prize in 2015 and premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2017 before transferring to the Bush Theatre, and The Fall which he wrote for the National Youth Theatre's 60th anniversary season in 2016. In 2017 his radio play Comment Is Free received both the Imison and the Tinniswood Award at the BBC Audio Drama Awards, the first time a single writer has won both awards the same year.

James Ijames is a Philadelphia-based performer and playwright. His plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre (New York City), Ally Theatre (Washington, DC) and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, The Gulfshore Playhouse, The Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre, and Victory Garden. James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient. He also received Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play for Superior Donuts and Angels in America and a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company. He is a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ....Miz Martha and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia's first playwright producing collective, and a mentor for The Foundry. He received a BA in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta and a MFA in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia. He is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.

Steph Del Rosso is a playwright, television writer, and educator. Her play Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill received its world premiere at The Flea Theater in 2018 and will be published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Her work has been developed or produced by Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, JACK, New York Stage and Film, The Lark, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Colt Coeur, SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and others. Her play 53% Of is the second-place recipient of the Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting, presented by the Kennedy Center. She is a 2018 Theater Masters Visionary Playwright, and an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Clubbed Thumb's Early Career Writers' Group. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at UC San Diego, where she studies with Naomi Iizuka.

Emily Schwend's plays include Utility (The Amoralists in New York City, Orange Tree Theatre in London, Interrobang Theatre Project, 2016 Yale Drama Series Award, 2017 IT Award for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play), The Other Thing (Second Stage Theatre Uptown), Take Me Back (Walkerspace), South Of Settling (Steppenwolf's Next Up Rep), and Splinters (CUDC Source Festival). She was a 2016-2017 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University and the inaugural 2014 Tow Foundation playwright-in-residence at Second Stage Theatre. She is a frequent contributor to Christine Jones's Theatre for One booth. She is the recipient of a Bogliasco Fellowship, a MacDowell Fellowship, the ACT New Play Award, the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwrights Prize, the Lecomte du Nouy Prize, and the Heideman Prize. Her work has been commissioned by Studio Theatre in DC, the Ensemble Studio Theatre through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Old Vic in London. She is a proud alumna of the playwriting programs at Juilliard and Tisch.


Carl Cofield is a New York-based director and actor, and serves as the Associate Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem. He directed the award-winning world premiere of One Night In Miami (Huffington Post best of LA 2013, NAACP, LA Drama Critics Circle, and others) for Rogue Machine Theater and the Denver Center Theatre, for which he received the Los Angeles NAACP award for Best Director. Other directing work includes: Disgraced for The Denver Center, Henry IV part 2 for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A Raisin in the Sun for Two River Theater, and The Mountaintop for Cleveland Play House. New York directing credits include: Antigone, The Tempest, and Macbeth for the Classical Theatre of Harlem, the 50th anniversary of Dutchman for the Classical Theatre of Harlem/National Black Theatre, The Balcony for The New School, Better Than Yellow for 48 Hours In Harlem, The Seven by Will Power at the Connelly Theatre, A Midsummer Night's Dream for NYU, 1001 for Columbia University, and The Tuskegee Airman Project for CUNY York College. He assisted Molly Smith in the world premiere of Camp David by Laurence Wright at Arena Stage. He directed the reading of Camp David for President and First Lady Carter at the Carter Center retreat in Vail, CO. Upcoming: Twelfth Night for Yale Repertory Theatre, One Night in Miami for Miami New Drama. As an actor, he has performed at Studio Theatre, The Manhattan Theatre Club, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Alliance, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Intiman, Actors Theater of Louisville, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, McCarter Theatre Center, The Acting Company, and others.

Lila Neugebauer's 2018 production of The Waverly Gallery marked her Broadway debut. Her recent Off Broadway credits include Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo, Annie Baker's The Antipodes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' Everybody, Edward Albee's The Sandbox, María Irene Fornes's Drowning, Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro, and A.R. Gurney's The Wayside Motor Inn at Signature Theatre; Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves at Lincoln Center and The Playwrights Realm; Zoe Kazan's After the Blast and Abe Koogler's Kill Floor at LCT3; Tracy Letts's Mary Page Marlowe at Second Stage Theater; Peace for Mary Frances with The New Group; and Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is a co-Artistic Director of the ensemble The Mad Ones, with whom she has written and directed: Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War, The Essential Straight and Narrow, and Miles for Mary (which also played at Playwrights Horizons). She is a recipient of the Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, and Princess Grace Award.

Eric Ruffin is a director and educator. His Off Broadway work includes Gutta Beautiful at the New Federal Theatre, and The Bear at HERE Arts Center. Regionally, his work includes A Raisin in the Sun at Crossroads Theatre; Topdog/Underdog and My Children! My Africa at Luna Stage; Public Ghosts/Private Stories at George Street Playhouse; 2-2 Tango at Studio Theatre's 2ndStage; Black Nativity at Theatre Alliance; The Piano Lesson at The African Globe; Waiting to be Invited at The Black Theatre Troupe; In the Red and Brown Water, Off the Leash, Radio Golf, Sarafina!, Venus, and Passing Strange at Howard University; Old Settler at African Continuum Theatre Company; and New Kid at Imagination Stage. He has received the New York Drama League Directing Fellowship, a Folger Theatre Acting Fellowship, and the Princess Grace Grant for Dance. He currently serves on the faculty of Howard University and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He holds a BFA from Howard University and an MFA from Rutgers University.

Studio Theatre

Now entering its 40th season, Studio Theatre is Washington's premier venue for contemporary theatre, "where local audiences will find today's edgiest playwrights" (Variety). One of the most respected midsized theatres in the country, Studio Theatre produces exceptional contemporary drama in deliberately intimate spaces. Drawing inspiration from great ensembles-where people work together with a spirit of generosity and professional rigor-Studio brings characteristic thoughtfulness and daring to its work onstage and off, through its new work incubator and engagement, education, and workforce training initiatives. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in the 2018-2019 season, Studio looks to honor its history through encouraging a creative culture in which artistry and boldness stem from inclusion, training, stewardship, and the collaborative spirit of the rehearsal room. Every year, Studio serves nearly 75,000 people, including more than 1,000 youth and young adults through engagement and education initiatives. Throughout Studio's 40-year history, the quality of our work has been recognized by sustained community support, as well as 367 nominations and 70 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theatre.


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