The Lark Announces First-Ever Recipients of Venturous Playwright Fellowship
The Lark and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation have announced that the plays and playwrights selected for the pilot round of the Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship program are For Want of a Horse by Olivia Dufault; Teenage Dick by Mike Lew; and Today is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton.
The new fellowship will support the advancement of ambitious, risk-taking, and innovative plays by providing concurrent residencies for their authors, and advocating for their production by partner theaters. Fellows each receive an award of $50,000 over two years, as well as a Production Subsidy Grant of up to $50,000 to support a production of the play at a theater of the playwright's choosing.
Throughout their two-year fellowships, the playwrights will be in residence at The Lark where they will have access to an individually-tailored lineup of new play development and advocacy resources, including readings, workshops, writers' groups, retreats, career guidance, and community engagement activities, designed to nurture their writing and advance their work into the repertoire.
"We are elated by this opportunity to so deeply support the work of three outstanding writers. Each play is an idiosyncratic example of the fearless exploration of the range of human experience that the stage deserves," said Andrea Hiebler, Director of Scouting and Submissions at The Lark. "In For Want of a Horse, Olivia invites us to practice radical empathy with a taboo subculture by demonstrating an uncommon level of tenderness and buoyancy. Mike tackles no less than Shakespeare's Richard III, re-imagining the king as an ambitious adolescent with cerebral palsy and a high school crush. By centering characters written explicitly for Disabled actors, Teenage Dick engages directly with issues of access and inclusion in wickedly comic style. Susan's Today is My Birthday uses the form of a good old fashioned radio play to dramatize the frustrations of modern communication as a young woman navigates the liminal state of her transition from a life in New York back to her home state of Hawaii. The wit and dark edges on display provide a compelling meditation on the lonely journey of living. The Lark is honored to partner with Venturous Theater Fund to leverage productions of these plays as well as encourage Olivia, Mike and Susan to continue crafting visionary and vital bodies of work."
In the pilot round, Venturous Playwright Fellows were selected through a multi-step curation process by Lark and Venturous Theater Fund staff, based on choosing work identified as "venturous," i.e., challenging in form, controversial in subject matter, ambitious in scale, and/or experimental in concept.
"We are grateful to the extraordinarily talented Olivia Dufault, Mike Lew, and Susan Soon He Stanton for participating in this program's inaugural round. We especially admire these intrepid artists for writing plays that are perceived as 'challenging' to produce, and we hope this initiative will inspire theaters to embrace such bold, unconventional works," said Ben Pesner, Program Director at Venturous Theater Fund.
"The Lark is an ideal partner for Venturous, with its long track record of providing writers with the kind of depth and breadth of artistic support this fellowship entails. We are proud to collaborate with The Lark in championing ambitious new plays and empowering the writers who create them."
The Venturous Playwright Fellowship will be part of The Lark's acclaimed portfolio of fellowships, which includes the Apothetae at Lark Fellowship, Jerome Fellowship, and Playwrights of New York Fellowship, among others, that is designed to engage Fellows in a cohort of diverse and extraordinary playwrights at various career levels, from across the country and around the world, gathered to explore and illuminate the most important issues of our time.
ABOUT THE PLAYS:
For Want of a Horse by Olivia Dufault
Calvin loves Q-Tip. Calvin is a human. Q-Tip is a horse. A radically empathetic look into the world of zoophilia.
Teenage Dick by Mike Lew
A hilarious take on Shakespeare's classic tale of power lust, Teenage Dick reimagines the most famous disabled character of all time as a 16-year-old outsider in the deepest winter of his discontent: his junior year at Roseland High. Picked on because of his cerebral palsy (as well as his sometimes creepy Shakespearean way of speaking), Richard is determined to have his revenge and make his name by becoming president of the senior class. But as he manipulates and crushes the obstacles to his electoral success, Richard finds himself faced with a decision he never expected would be his to make: is it better to be loved or feared?
Today Is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton
Emily is a would-be writer whose bubble life in NYC has popped. Finding life back home chaotic and unfulfilling, she becomes strangely activated after creating a sassy alter-ego for a radio bit. Told through a playful mixture of live radio, voicemail, and phone calls, Today Is My Birthday is a quirky comedy about life with a thousand friends on Facebook and no one to have dinner with on Saturday night.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS:
Olivia Dufault's plays include Year of the Rooster (Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Times Critics' Pick), The Tomb of King Tot (Clubbed Thumb, New York Times Critics' Pick), The Messenger, and For Want of a Horse. Her plays have been performed at the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood, Clubbed Thumb, the Flea Theatre, and the Marin Theatre, amongst others. She is the recipient of the 2015 Playwrights of New York Fellowship, the 2013 David Colicchio Emerging Playwright Award, the 2010 Lipkin Playwriting Award, and the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Harle Adair Damann Playwriting Award. She currently writes for the AMC television show Preacher. She is a member of New Dramatists, the LCT Writers in Residence, and the Youngblood Playwriting Group.
Mike Lew's plays include Tiger Style! (Huntington, La Jolla Playhouse, and Alliance productions; O'Neill, CTG, and Juilliard workshops), Teenage Dick (Public Studio; O'Neill, OSF, FST, and PF workshops), microcrisis (Ma-Yi, InterAct, and Next ACT Productions), Stockton (AracaWorks and EST workshops), People's Park (Victory Gardens workshop), In Paris You will Find Many Baguettes... (Humana), Roanoke (Humana), and Moustache Guys. He is a Tony Voter, Dramatists Guild Council member, and recipient of a Mellon Foundation residency, Lark residency, NYFA fellowship, and the Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill, Heideman, and Kendeda awards. He is co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the largest collective of Asian-American Playwrights in the country. Education: Juilliard, Yale. mikelew.com.
Susan Soon He Stanton's plays include Takarazuka!!! (Clubbed Thumb, East West Players, Oregon Shakespeare Festival workshop), Today Is My Birthday (Sundance, NYTW workshop), cygnus (Women's Project Pipieline Festival, Kilroy's List), Navigator (Honolulu Theater for Youth). She has worked as a writing consultant for Disney Creative Entertainment. She received a Feature Film Development Grant and Screenwriting Award from the Sloan Foundation, and a Leviathan Lab Film Production Grant. Films include Dress (winner of 2014 Hawai'i International Film Festival Audience Award), Dispatched, Good House, and Same Will. Awards and honors include Van Lier Fellowship at The Lark, Southern Rep's Ruby Prize Runner-up, Susan Glaspell Prize Finalist, two-time Kilroy finalist, a Susan Smith Blackburn nomination, and a NET Partnership Grant with Satori Group. Commissions from South Coast Rep, Kumu Kahua, Honolulu Theater for Youth, New Sounds Theater, and Second Generation. Susan holds a BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing and an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, where she was awarded the Eugene O'Neil Memorial Scholarship and the Audrey Woods Scholarship. She currently resides in London, where she works as a staff writer for the TV series Succession on HBO.
The Lark is an international theater laboratory, based in New York City, dedicated to empowering playwrights by providing transformative support within a global community. Founded in 1994, The Lark provides writers with funding, space, collaborators, audiences, professional connections, and the freedom to design their own processes of exploration. The guiding principal of The Lark's work is the belief that playwrights are society's truth tellers, and their work strengthens our collective capacity to understand our world and imagine its future.
Last year, The Lark served 929 artists, including 106 playwrights, partnered with more than a dozen theaters and universities, and welcomed 2,618 audience members to 32 public presentations. In the past three years 121 Lark developed plays moved on to 281 productions in 111 cities around the world. In order to provide economic flexibility to writers at different stages of their careers, The Lark has created a portfolio of major playwriting fellowships. The Lark continues to offer a free and open submission process that allows any and all writers to submit to our Playwrights' Week program and maintains free admission to the public for all readings and workshops. Plays substantially developed at The Lark include The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph, brownsville song (b-side for tray) by Kimber Lee, and Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau.
For more information about the artists, initiatives and plays of The Lark, please visit: www.larktheatre.org.
Venturous Theater Fund supports innovative approaches to theatrical production by encouraging playwrights and other theater-makers to take risks in the creation of new work for the stage. Venturous seeks to help writers achieve the freedom to write the plays they fear would otherwise go unproduced; and to enable not-for-profit producing organizations to say "yes" instead of "no" to worthy but challenging projects that involve controversial subject matter, large casts, or other perceived obstacles. Through its Venturous Capital Grants program, Venturous provides funds for small and medium-sized theaters to underwrite extraordinary production expenses for ambitious new plays-specific costs that a theater might otherwise be unable to incur. Since its founding in 2011, Venturous has also supported playwright collectives, writers who self-produce, playwright-driven initiatives, and playwright service organizations. For more information, visit VenturousTheaterFund.org.
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