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Stage Left Theatre Sets Downstage Left Residency Recipients


Stage Left Theatre announces the recipients of the Downstage Left Playwright Residencies for Season 33. Residencies are designed to help playwrights take a project from the conceptual stage all the way to a production-ready script. Playwrights work closely with ensemble directors and members of the literary team to design a process tailored for the particular needs of their project.

Over 100 applications were submitted, each of which was evaluated by at least two members of the selection committee. These written evaluations were used to create a list of 15 semi-finalists, which were read by the entire committee, then narrowed to a list of 4 finalists through a vote. The final selections were then made by Literary Manager Zev Valancy and Artistic Director Vance Smith following conversations with each finalist. The two 2014/15 Residencies are The Bottle Tree by Beth Kander and Heartland by Gabriel Jason Dean.

The Bottle Tree by Beth Kander

Years after a tragic school shooting, the small town of Maple, Mississippi, is still traumatized-- no one more so than Alley, the sister of the shooter. Young love, old guilt, laughter, and lingering scars all keep the girl, the town, and Alley's "bottle tree" on the verge of shattering.

The development process for The Bottle Tree will be led by Stage Left Artistic Associate Amy Szerlong and Literary Associate Annaliese McSweeney.

Beth Kander is a writer, performer and consultant with one foot in the South and the other in the Midwest. Selected playwriting awards: Charles M. Getchell New Play Award (2012); Eudora Welty New Play Awards (2013, 2010, 2008); Theatre Oxford 10 Minute Plays Audience Award (2012); Mississippi Theatre Association New Play Award (2009). Kander was named Best Writer by the Jackson Free Press three times. She has scripts represented by Steele Spring Stage Rights and Chicago Dramaworks. In addition to playwriting, Kander has authored several works of fiction, including the novel Was and the children's book Glubbery Gray: The Knight-Eating Beast (Pelican Publishing). She holds degrees from Brandeis University and the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and a small collection of rescue pets.

Heartland by Gabriel Jason Dean

In 1981, Dr. Harold Banks helped the U.S. develop textbooks for Afghan children. The books were filled with coercive propaganda meant to stimulate resistance against the invading U.S.S.R. and they helped lay the psychological foundation for the modern day Taliban. During the scorching summer of 2020, one of those Afghans-a former jihadist-shows up to fix the aging Dr. Banks' broken air conditioner.

The development process for Heartland will be led by Stage Left Ensemble director Scott Bishop.

Gabriel Jason Dean is a Brooklyn based playwright/screenwriter. His play Javaaneh (In Bloom) was a finalist for the Laurents / Hatcher Award, received the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Prize, and was Runner-Up for the Princess Grace Award. His play for children, The Transition of Doodle Pequeño received the 2013 American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award, the 2011 New England Theatre Conference Aurand Harris Award and was selected for the 2012 Kennedy Center New Visions / New Voices Conference, Theatre for Young Audiences Award and was Runner-Up for the Harold & Mimi Steinberg National Playwriting Award. He is the recipient of the Essential Theatre New Play Prize and Austin's 2013 B. Iden Payne Award for "Best Original Script" and "Best Comedy" for Qualities of Starlight, and his play, Pigskin, won the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. Other awards include the James A. Michener Playwriting Fellowship, Dramatist's Guild Fellowship, the Sallie B. Goodman / McCarter Theatre Fellowship and the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. His scripts are published through Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing and Playscripts. Gabriel is a Core Writer at The Playwrights' Center and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop.

The other finalists were Handled by Shayne Kennedy and Love in the Time of Bumblehive by Jeff Tabnick. Semifinalists included Achievement Unlocked by Sarah Bowden, The Crash at Crush by EJC Calvert, The Baby Killer Play by by Dominique Cieri, Beating Heart by Chad Eschman, What Remains of Youth by Eric Gernand, Restore by Jordan Puckett, The Owl and the Voyager by Daniel John Kelley, The Trojan War Isn't Gonna Happen by Georgette Kelly, Reclamation by Katie Watson, Lady by Sofya Weitz, and Chicago Lost by Scott Woldman,

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