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The Playwrights Realm Announces 2021-2022 Writing Fellows, Scratchpad Playwrights, International Scratchpad Playwrights, And The Continuation Of Script Share

Today, The Realm announces the cohort of playwrights whose work the organization will support throughout the 2021-2022 season.

As theater begins a lengthy, gradual comeback from a shut down year, centering support for playwrights is key to ensuring that what's on the horizon looks different than the standard production models that drove the industry's recent past. In The Playwrights Realm's 15th Anniversary Restart Season, in lieu of productions, the organization expands its existing programs and networks of support for playwrights, generating a vital sense of community that likewise catalyzes vital writing.

Today, The Realm announces the cohort of playwrights whose work the organization will support throughout the 2021-2022 season, and who will forever be part of the growing community of Realm Playwrights: Writing Fellows Will Brumley, Jeesun Choi, Emma Horwitz, and Audley Puglisi; Scratchpad Playwrights Agyeiwaa Asante, Aurora Real de Asua, and Nubia Monks; and, for the first time, International Scratchpad Playwrights, including Vivienne Glanceand Dhinesha Karthigesu.

Previous notable participants in these programs have included Bleu Beckford-Burrell (Fellow, 2018/19), Liza Birkenmeier (Fellow, 2016/17), Sarah Einspanier (Fellow, 2018/19), Miranda Rose Hall (Scratchpad, 2017/18), MJ Kaufman (Scratchpad, 2017/18), Donja R. Love (Fellow, 2016/17), Eliana Pipes (Scratchpad, 2020/21), and more.

Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner says, "Over The Realm's history, we've consistently worked to expand and improve our Open Submission Programs to provide more access and support to early-career playwrights. First came our Writing Fellowship, still going strong at 13 years and counting - but only accessible to local writers. This inspired our Scratchpad Series, which was created 5 years ago to allow us to engage with writers nationwide. And it was that program's success, in turn, that led us to wonder about opening the door to international writers. In this past year of virtual rehearsals and collaborations, we realized how much could be accomplished in a digital Realm, and we're thrilled to welcome our International Scratchpad Playwrights Dhinesha Karthigesu, from Malaysia, and Vivienne Glance, from Australia, into the Realm family!"

Associate Artistic Director Alexis Williams says, "We were awed at the record shattering number of submissions we received; knowing that so many folks continued to create and write in times as taxing as the past year is truly inspiring! And we're thrilled to welcome our new cohort of playwrights into the Realm. Whether by subverting constructs of gender and identity, exploring the impact of climate change, playing with theatrical forms from across the globe, or reimagining classic texts, these writers are vigorously grappling with the possibilities of the stories we tell (and how we tell them). Their voices are uniquely compelling and we are so excited to engage with them and their work this season!"

This season, the company also continues to grow access for aspiring playwrights without a traditional theater education or industry connections. Today, The Realm announces plans for its second round of Script Share-offering all-too-rare professional feedback to those to whom industry gives few avenues of entry. Script Share participants are selected via lottery-which will open on September 27, 2021, here.

See below for more information about each program - and the playwrights chosen to participate this year.

The Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Program

The Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Program awards four early-career playwrights with nine months of resources (including a $3,000 stipend), workshops, and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals. This year's Fellows develop a single, new play, with monthly group meetings that provide a collaborative space for writers to share and refine their work, and one-on-one meetings with Realm artistic staff to support each writer's process. Fellows collaborate with a director, design consultants, and actors for two readings. Personalized professional development resources are tailored to the group: mentor opportunities, meet-and-greets, and professional seminars are designed to shed light on the business of theatre, and empower the Fellows to be active, informed participants in their own careers. The program culminates with the INK'D Festival, featuring a public (either in person or virtual) presentation for each Fellow.

This year's fellows, and the plays they'll be developing, are:

Will Brumley

Pulling Leather: A Queer Rodeo Fantasia

When New Yorker Glen learns his estranged uncle is the 1990 International Gay Rodeo Champion, he heads to Oklahoma to learn the art of eight seconds and becomes an unexpected part of his uncle's late-in-life family return. A kaleidoscopic desert road trip about alternative families, queer kinship, and the myths of masculinity and cowboys, all etched in the iconography of the American West.

Will Brumley is a playwright originally from Lawrence, Kansas. His plays include Pulling Leather: A Queer Rodeo Fantasia (2018 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference Finalist and 2021 Play Lab at the Valdez Last Frontier Theatre Conference); Dollar Store Jesus (2020 O'Neill Semi-Finalist); and The Clinic (2019 O'Neill Semi-Finalist), which was performed in 17 benefit readings across the United States throughout 2019-2020, raising over $11,000 for reproductive rights organizations and featured in American Theatre Magazine. A 2021 Semi-Finalist for the National Young Playwrights in Residence at The Echo Theater Company, Will's work has been developed in masterclasses and through writing groups at Bushwick Starr, Primary Stages' ESPA, and The Vineyard Theatre in the US and Theatre 503, Soho Theatre, and Squint Theatre in London. His musical Williamsburg! The Musical, written with musicians Brooke Fox and Kurt Gellersted was a 2007 NYC Fringe Overall Excellence Award winner and called "an absolute hit" (WFUV). www.willbrumley.com

Jeesun Choi

Lost Coast

In a coastal forest in northern California live Sheila, Pru, Angel, Gigi, Nara and Joon, isolated from society, quietly struggling in the shadows of a volatile world. When a wildfire burns down a nearby town, their lives start to unravel. With Stephen, a fire refugee, now living among them, they start to pull each other closer. They shed their ashes and reveal their untrammeled core, glowing hotter and more vitally than before. This seven-protagonist play explores community and compassion in the face of irrevocable change.

Jeesun Choi (she/her) is a transnational Korean playwright and physical theatre artist. Her plays move through diaspora, (im)migration, transnationalism to reveal the joy and agony of the human condition. Plays include Lost Coast (2021 Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Festival, reading at New York Theatre Workshop); Manuka (Upcoming: EST Youngblood Podcast); The Seekers (2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival Winner, 2018-19 Bushwick Starr Reading Series, Fresh Ground Pepper Artist Retreat); Dahlia (Dell'Arte International); Cecilies (Red Eye Theater, Minnesota Fringe Festival). She was awarded Artist of Exceptional Merit by Asian American Arts Alliance in 2020. Currently, she is the Librettist Fellow at American Opera Project, the Ingram Lab Playwright at Nashville Rep, a member of EST/Youngblood, and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop. She was a fellow at National Institute for Directing & Ensemble Creation at Pangea World Theater and a Works-in-Progress Artist at Red Eye Theater. MFA Ensemble-Based Physical Theatre, Dell'Arte International. www.jeesunchoi.com

Emma Horwitz

MARY GETS HERS

It's the 10th century! A plague rages on in Germany! Everyone is turning into foam! When two overzealous hermits find an abandoned orphan named Mary, they scheme a saintly rescue mission to protect her purity at any and all costs. Mary, however, has other plans for herself. A new adaptation of Hrosvitha of Gandersheim's closet drama comedy Abraham, or the Rise and Repentance of Mary.

Emma Horwitz is a writer from New York City. Her plays have been produced &/or supported by Williamstown Theater Festival (2020 Playwright-in-Residence), Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Fresh Ground Pepper, Two Headed Rep, Tripwire Harlot Press, & elsewhere. Work in fiction and comics have appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Joyland Magazine, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Spiral Bound, Vol. 1 Brooklyn's Sunday Stories, Moon Missives, & elsewhere. She has held residencies with Arts Letters & Numbers & with CAMP (Collaborative Arts Mobility Projects), & has taught writing at Brown University, Mount Holyoke College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. BA: Bard College, Written Arts. MFA: Brown University, Playwriting with Lisa D'Amour & Julia Jarcho. emmahorwitz.com

Audley Puglisi

the salt women

It's the late nineteenth century and three Black women, three conjure women, live and work in a river that runs out to the Gulf. It's an anachronistic Black Atlantic world. On this particular night, three outsiders come into the woods, seeking the women, and shake up the natural order of things.

Audley Puglisi is a playwright and poet. Audley has been a 2015 VONA/Voices Playwriting Fellow as well as a 2016 Lambda Literary Playwriting Fellow. Audley has been a resident artist at Blue Mountain Center and has worked with St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre. Writings have been published in ColorBloq and Garage Magazine. Plays include the salt women, Two Sisters (SipFest @ The Wild Project); blues for miss lucille (Lorraine Hansberry Award, finalist); and Home on High. Audley received a B.A. in Africana Studies from Oberlin College and is a recent M.F.A. Graduate from the Yale School of Drama.

Scratchpad Series

The Scratchpad Series opens The Realm's doors to early-career playwrights from around the world, deepening the company's ability to do what it does best: listening to what playwrights need, and giving it to them. Scratchpad is a chance for The Realm to engage with an entirely new group of playwrights each year, erasing limitations of geography or access by identifying and inviting playwrights from across the globe to participate. In previous iterations, the series brought playwrights from across the country to The Realm; in our moment of pandemic, with the broadening of virtual theater-making, communication, and collaboration, The Realm can now offer the support of the Scratchpad Series to playwrights abroad as well.

The series supports playwrights with a paid developmental process of up to one week culminating in a reading (internal or public, at the writer's discretion) of the play. It connects them with professional collaborators, such as a director, casting director, cast, and The Realm's artistic staff-who offer dramaturgical development and discussion prior to and following each reading, as well as professional development guidance and industry introductions.

2021-2022 Scratchpad Playwrights, and the works they'll be developing, include:

Agyeiwaa Asante

DAINTY

The Garden is true paradise for the brides. They have known nothing and want for nothing. That is, until a groom arrives and introduces the brides to the outside world. In this meditation of Black womanhood, DAINTY explores the price of femininity and if it's truly worth the cost.

Agyeiwaa Asante is a Ghanaian- American theatre artist based in Maryland. She writes to explore the experience of the black diaspora, intraracial/cultural dynamics and more. Her plays include, SWIRL (Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage Festival 2017, Watermelon One- Act Festival- Best Production 2019), HELP WANTED (Silver Spring One Act Festival, Elemental Women Productions) and DAINTY (BOLD NYC's 2020 Festival). Her short play, WILDEST DREAMS, will premiere at the 13th Annual Fire This Time Festival. Most recently she was commissioned for University of Maryland's 2020 NextNow Festival and Single Carrot Theatre. She is the 2020 recipient of The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation's Ollie Award for emerging playwrights. Her play, BY GRACE Pt. 2, will be published via the 46th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. B.A. in Theatre, University of Maryland 2018. She's starting her first year at UCSD froher MFA in Playwriting.

Aurora Real de Asua

WET

One of the few places where women of all ages, races, and classes can socialize half-naked and wet is the changing room of the local pool. But when a sex scandal rocks the community, the women must reevaluate the meaning of safe space. Vulnerable and goofy, Aurora Real de Asua's comedy follows three generations of women as they navigate the tumultuous waters of friendship.

Aurora Real de Asua is a California-born playwright, filmmaker, and performer. Her plays have been workshopped at theatres such as Victory Gardens, sideshow, Rivendell, Greenhouse, and The Story Theatre. She has received commissions from South Coast Repertory Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre, and sideshow. She was a finalist for Blank Theatre's The Future of Playwriting Prize. She has a BA in theatre from Northwestern University and is currently getting her MFA in film directing and writing at Columbia University. www.auroradeasua.com/

Nubia Monks

The Girl(s) Next Door

In 1984, Lonnie Franklin Jr, also known as the "Grim Sleeper" claimed his first victim; by 2007, he had claimed the lives of over one hundred African American women. Among his victims was a little girl named Princess Berthomieux; she was only fifteen years old when she was murdered. The Girl(s) Next Door is centered around Princess and the spirits of the Grim Sleeper's victims. Princess is on a mission to completely dismantle an injustice system that continues to allow violence against Black women to go unchecked. She will not stop until justice is served for her, and the many lives lost to The Grim Sleeper.

Nubia Monks is an actor, playwright, and educator. She has performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, The Women's Theatre Festival, and The Guthrie Theater. Nubia has also performed in various virtual workshops, readings, and performances. She wrote Hands of Color which premiered at the Synchronicity Theater in Atlanta and then went on to receive the Suzi Bass Award for 'Outstanding World Premiere.' Right now, Nubia is a Jerome's Fellow at the Playwrights' Center where she will spend a year in the Twin Cities writing and developing new works. She is absolutely elated to be making her NYC debut at The Playwrights Realm.

International Scratchpad Playwrights, and the works they'll be developing, include:

Vivienne Glance

Bruised

Three women, a Former Astronaut, a Birdwatcher, and a Migrant, each bruised by life, meet by chance. Over dinner, the great cycles of the world are revealed: ocean circulations, migratory birds, and people fleeing war. Their interweaving stories reveal links between oceans and weather, the survival of birds, and the desperate flight of climate change refugees. Through interconnected monologues and vignettes, our planet's current and future challenges are laid bare through the female gaze. But in the end, there is hope. There must always be hope.

Along with productions in Perth and Sydney, Vivienne Glance's plays have been produced/developed in UK, USA, Canada, and Europe, including a showcase performance at The International Playwriting Festival, London. Others have won prizes or been shortlisted in Australia, UK and USA. She has taught playwriting at Peter Cowan Writers Centre and with University of Western Australia's (UWA) Extension. She has worked as a dramaturge for Stages WA Playwrights Consortium and was on the Register of Peers for WA's Department of Culture and the Arts. Vivienne works with Sudanese writer, Afeif Ismail, co-transcreating his plays into English, including the 2011 AWGIE-nominated The African Magician. As well as writing, Vivienne has been a professional actor for over 2 decades, and has worked in UK, USA, Europe and Australia. Vivienne holds a PhD in Creative Writing from UWA, where she is currently an Honorary Research Fellow. She received UWA's Matilda Award for Cultural Excellence in 2011. Residencies include: Bush Retreat for Eco-Writers Residency (BREW), Murringo, NSW (2019); Djerassi Resident Artist Program, California, USA (2015); Cummins Theatre, Merredin, WA (Stages WA Playwrights Consortium, 2013); The Arts Catalyst in London, UK (WA Playwrights Development Initiative, 2012). vivienneglance.com

Dhinesha Karthigesu

Ravayana

Ravayana is a queer, modern Malaysian Indian reimagining of the Hindu epic The Ramayana (also known as the story of Ram and Sita). Ravana (the villain in the original epic) is struggling with the fact that his boyfriend Ram has left him for a woman, Sita. When the two meet at a party, does Ravana allow his jealous emotions to get the better of him or does he finally realize he is the hero in this version of the story? Featuring love triangles, meddling sisters and polygamous parents, what ensues is a series of comedic, sacred, and profane vignettes.

Dhinesha Karthigesu is a Kuala Lumpur based multi-disciplinary storyteller and coach. He is deeply invested in telling queer and Malaysian stories while holding space for conversations on identity and creativity. Recent credits include: Sacred//Profane, a theatrical collaboration that featured performers from four countries performing via Zoom, ROJA: Weaving A Womxn, a performance art and visual arts installation with Veshalini Naidu and The Human Exhibit site specific theatre series with Ian Skatu. Dhinesha is Malaysia's first and only National Poetry Slam Champion. His work has been featured at festivals and on platforms like HowlRound Theatre Commons, Vice India and Vice Asia. Dhinesha is currently one of the directors for Theatresauce's Emerging Directors Lab of 2020-2022. www.dhinesha.com

Script Share

In 2020, The Playwrights Realm launched the Script Share program, its first ever-initiative exclusively supporting aspiring playwrights. Conceived by the Realm Associate Artistic Director Alexis Williams and General Manager and Associate Producer Céline Delcayre, Script Share offered guidance to over 200 writers with limited industry access or theatre education, while creating work opportunities for 24 theater professionals whose livelihoods were threatened by the pandemic. Script Share continues Fall 2021, bringing aspiring playwrights into dialogue with dramaturgs, literary managers, directors, and many other professionals working in new play development, engaging across one-hour conversations surrounding a particular script chosen by the playwright.

Script Share participants are selected via lottery, which will open on September 27, 2021.

Cat Ferris, who participated in the first round of Script Share, wrote of her experience, "As a person who is not rich enough to be well versed in the theatre and arts community around my area, having the ability to discuss my work with someone who is a professional was incredibly fulfilling and useful. I don't typically have the opportunities to discuss the weather with theatre professionals, let alone my work."

Jeanne Smith, another participant, wrote, "This experience was incredibly inspiring for me. I felt supported and celebrated in my work and was given incredible insight and perspective in order to bring my play to the next level. The experience was completely invaluable and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity."

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