Tanya Barfield to Step in as Co-Director of Juilliard's Playwrights Program Following Marsha Norman's Exit

By: Oct. 17, 2019
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Tanya Barfield to Step in as Co-Director of Juilliard's Playwrights Program Following Marsha Norman's Exit

Evan Yionoulis, Richard Rodgers Director of Juilliard's Drama Division, announced today that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman will step down as co-director of Juilliard's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

Playwright and Juilliard alumna Tanya Barfield will succeed Norman and will be joining Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire as the co-director of the playwrights program beginning fall 2020.

"We're grateful for Marsha's 25-year tenure, which has built this program into an incredible incubator for playwriting talent. Her generosity and mentorship have shaped a generation of writers, and we celebrate her remarkable legacy," Yionoulis said. "We're delighted that Tanya and David, both acclaimed playwrights who studied with Marsha at Juilliard, will continue to inspire and challenge our students to tell the diverse stories that only they can tell, stories that speak to the times with clarity and boldness."

"Teaching with David, and Christopher Durang before David, has been one of the great joys of my career," Marsha Norman said. "We have not 'taught' playwriting but rather listened to plays, talked about plays, told the writers what working playwrights go through, and gotten them ready for the critical decisions and collaborations that will make the difference in their careers as artists. I'm thrilled that Tanya will succeed me as co-director with David. She was one of my favorites at Juilliard. She was my assistant on the book for the musical, The Color Purple, and she is one of the most generous, thoughtful, and funny people I know. (And that's exactly what I look for in humans.)"

"I'm thrilled to join David as co-director of the playwrights program next fall," Barfield said. "Having had the honor of studying with Marsha as well as serving as Juilliard's literary manager, I am deeply connected to the program. It's a place to exchange ideas, teach and learn writing-and also it's a return home."

This season, Juilliard Drama is presenting Tanya Barfield's play, Bright Half Life, directed by faculty member and alumna Rebecca Guy, November 6-10, in the Stephanie P. McClelland Drama Theater. The play features Group 49 acting students in their fourth and final year in the program.

Over the 25 years with Marsha Norman's leadership, alumni of the playwrights program have garnered considerable recognition, including productions, commissions, publications, and awards, among them, Pulitzers for Martyna Majok's Cost of Living (2018), David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole (2007), and David Auburn's Proof (2001). So-called MacArthur "genius" grants have been awarded to Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (2016) and Samuel D. Hunter (2014), and Katori Hall received an Olivier Award (2010).

Upcoming and recently produced work by playwriting alumni includes Noah Haidle's Birthday Candles, starring Debra Messing, which will be presented on Broadway by the Roundabout Theater Company in 2020; Adam Rapp's The Sound Inside, starring Mary-Louise Parker, which is running on Broadway at Studio 54; and, Off-Broadway, Donja R. Love's one in two, with The New Group, which opens in November, and second-year fellow Eboni Booth's Paris, which opens in 2020 at Atlantic Theater Company.

Juilliard playwriting alumni have also worked extensively in television and film. TV show creators include Beau Willimon (The First, House of Cards), Carly Mensch (GLOW), Liz Meriwether (New Girl, Bless This Mess, Single Parents), Katori Hall (P Valley), Marco Ramirez (The Twilight Zone), Ron Fitzgerald (Perry Mason), Bathsheba Doran (Traitors), Alexandra Cunningham (Dirty John), and Jessica Goldberg (Away, Suspicion, The Path). Recent films by Juilliard playwriting alumni include J.C. Lee's Luce, Sofia Alvarez's All the Boys I've Loved Before and the upcoming P.S. I Still Love You, and Beau Willimon's Mary Queen of Scots.

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