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Manhattan Theatre Club Announces New Commissioning Program, New Slate Of Commissions and Inaugural Groundworks Lab For New Work Development


The Groundworks Lab for new work development is a year-round initiative that supports works-in-progress through artist-driven workshops.

Manhattan Theatre Club Announces New Commissioning Program, New Slate Of Commissions and Inaugural Groundworks Lab For New Work Development

Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director) and Barry Grove (Executive Producer) have announced a robust slate of playwright commissions through Manhattan Theatre Club's new partnership with the Edgerton Foundation, as well as a new round of commissions supported by ongoing partnerships with Bobbie Olsen and other donors. Recipients include Will Arbery, Eboni Booth, Heather Christian, Joshua Harmon, Aleshea Harris, Dave Harris, Khiyon Hursey, James Ijames, Martyna Majok, Qui Nguyen, Simon Stephens, Sanaz Toossi, Whitney White, and Alexis Zegerman. MTC previously announced a new slate of commissions through its partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, awarded to J. Nicole Brooks, Diane Exavier, Franky D. Gonzalez, Charlie Oh, Kristin Slaney, and Else Went.

MTC will also introduce the Groundworks Lab for new work development, a year-round initiative that supports works-in-progress through artist-driven workshops. Individually tailored to meet the needs of each project, the Groundworks Lab welcomes work by playwrights, directors, designers, and other theatremakers. Inaugural artists include Cristina Angeles & a.k. payne, York Walker, and, in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company, Daniel K. Isaac & Ralph B. Peña.

"After an exceptionally challenging year, we are glad to look to the future with this extraordinary lineup of artists," said Scott Kaplan, MTC's Director of Play Development. "We are delighted to announce our new commissioning partnership with the Edgerton Foundation, and we are grateful to Bobbie Olsen for her continued support for singularly talented playwrights and their visionary work. The Groundworks Lab is a natural complement to these commissions, and we are thrilled to expand our support for new work with these exciting initiatives."

MTC in partnership with the Edgerton Foundation supports commissions for original plays and musicals by established American artists that embody the full potential of great live theatre. The inaugural recipients of Edgerton Foundation New Play Commissions are Heather Christian, Joshua Harmon, Aleshea Harris, James Ijames, Martyna Majok, Qui Nguyen, and Whitney White. MTC is delighted to partner with the Almeida Theatre to co-commission Majok and with The Geffen Playhouse to co-commission Nguyen.

MTC has awarded commissions to five additional writers through the Bobbie Olsen Play Commission program, which is funded by an endowment from former MTC Board Member Bobbie Olsen. Recipients include Will Arbery, Khiyon Hursey, Simon Stephens, Sanaz Toossi, and Alexis Zegerman.

Eboni Booth and Dave Harris were also awarded commissions through additional funders.

Here are the bios of Manhattan Theatre Club's new commissioned artists:

Will Arbery is a playwright from Texas + Wyoming + seven sisters. His play Heroes of the Fourth Turning premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 2019. It was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the 2020 Obie Award for Playwriting, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Playwriting Award. Arbery won the Whiting Award for Drama in 2020. His play Corsicana will premiere at Playwrights Horizons in 2022. Other plays include: Plano (Clubbed Thumb), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (New Neighborhood), You Hateful Things (NYTW Dartmouth Residency), and Wheelchair (3 Hole Press).

Eboni Booth is a writer and actress from New York City. Her play Paris had its premiere at the Atlantic Theater Company. Her work has been developed with Cape Cod Theater Project, Ojai Playwrights Conference, WP Theater, Two River Theater, Clubbed Thumb, and Northern Stage. As an actress, Eboni has appeared in productions at Playwrights Horizons, LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, WP Theater, Page 73, Soho Rep., and more. Eboni is a recipient of a Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, and a graduate of Juilliard's playwriting program and the University of Vermont.

Heather Christian is an Obie Award-winning composer/playwright/performer who makes music-centered shows and rituals. Recent works include Animal Wisdom (Bushwick Starr, Woolly Mammoth, ACT), I am Sending You the Sacred Face (Theater in Quarantine), Prime: A Practical Breviary (Playwrights Horizons), The World is Round (BAM), and Mission Drift (National Theatre). Awards: TimeOut NY's "Downtown Innovators to Watch", Harold and Mimi Steinberg Trust Commission, Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellowship, Richard Rodgers Award. Heather has released 11 records, teaches vocal-based music composition at NYU, runs a recording studio in Beacon, NY, and appears regularly in concert halls and dive bars as Heather Christian & the Arbornauts.

Joshua Harmon's plays include Bad Jews, Significant Other, Admissions, and Skintight. They have been produced on Broadway; off-Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Center Theater; across the country at Geffen Playhouse, Speakeasy, Studio Theatre, Theater Wit, About Face, Actor's Express, and The Magic, among others; and internationally on the West End and in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, and throughout the U.K. His play Prayer for the French Republic will have its world premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club this winter. He is an Associate Artist at Roundabout and a graduate of Juilliard.

Aleshea Harris's Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep and Ola Ince at the Royal Court) won the Relentless Award and an OBIE Award. What to Send Up When It Goes Down (directed by Whitney White, produced by The Movement Theatre Company/BAM and Playwrights Horizons) was featured in the April 2019 issue of American Theatre Magazine and received a rare special commendation from the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Awards include: Windham-Campbell Literary Prize, Mimi Steinberg Playwriting Award, Hermitage Greenfield Prize, and the Horton Foote Playwriting Award.

Dave Harris is a poet and playwright from West Philly. He is the Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company. Selected plays include Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons, CTG 2022), Exception to the Rule (Roundabout Underground 2022), and Everybody Black (Humana Festival 2019). His first feature film, Summertime, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Selected honors: The Ollie Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award and Mark Twain Award from The Kennedy Center, The International Commendation for The Bruntwood Prize, the Venturous Fellowship from The Lark, and Cave Canem. Dave is currently writing the feature adaptation of The Fortress of Solitude among other film and television projects.

Khiyon Hursey is a writer and composer based in Los Angeles and New York. He was a staff writer for Netflix's romantic musical drama, Soundtrack, and is currently co-writing Love in America, a movie musical produced by Issa Rae at Universal. He is the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation's Irving Burgie Scholarship, Lucille and Jack Yellen Award, NAMT Writers Grant, Dramatists Guild Musical Theater Fellowship, SPACE on Ryder Farm Residency, Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project Residency, ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop with Stephen Schwartz, and more. His musical Eastbound was selected for the 2020 National Alliance of Musical Theatre Conference, and he has work in development with NYSF, Ars Nova, and others.

James Ijames is a Philadelphia-based performer, playwright, and Co-Artistic Director of the Wilma Theater. James' plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, The National Black Theatre, and others. His work has been developed by PlayPenn, The Lark, Playwrights Horizons, Wilma Theater, Victory Gardens, and more. Select awards: the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artists, three Barrymore Awards, the Independence Foundation Fellowship, the Pew Fellowship for Playwriting, the Terrance McNally New Play Award, the Kesselring Prize, and the Whiting Award. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia's first playwright producing collective. He is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.

Martyna Majok's plays include Sanctuary City, Queens, Cost of Living, and Ironbound. Honors include the Pulitzer Prize, Lucille Lortel Award, Primus Prize, Lanford Wilson Award, Lilly Award, Greenfield Prize, NYC Champions of Change Award, Helen Merrill Award, Charles MacArthur Award, Jean Kennedy Smith Award, Calicchio Prize, Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, two Jane Chambers Feminist Playwriting Prizes, and the Merage Foundation Fellowship for the American Dream. She is currently writing the libretto for The Great Gatsby with music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett and is developing a series based on her play, Queens, for HBO.

Qui Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American playwright, screenwriter, and co-founder of the genre-bending NYC theatre company, Vampire Cowboys. His most recent works include Revenge Song: A Vampire Cowboys Creation (Geffen Playhouse); Poor Yella Rednecks: Vietgone Part Two (South Coast Rep); and Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon. He's a proud member of the WGA West, The Animation Guild, The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and serves on the board of New Dramatists.

Simon Stephens' plays include Heisenberg, Sea Wall, Blindness, Fortune, Light Falls, Maria, Fatherland, Rage, Birdland, Blindsided, Morning, Three Kingdoms, Punk Rock, The Trial of Ubu, Harper Regan, Pornography, Motortown, On the Shore of the Wide World, One Minute, Country Music, Bluebird, and others. He has written English language versions of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House; Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and The Seagull; and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. His book, A Working Diary, is published by Methuen. He is an Associate Artist at the Lyric Hammersmith, a Professor of Scriptwriting at Manchester Metropolitan University, and an Associate Professor at the Danish National School of the Performing Arts.

Sanaz Toossi is an Iranian-American playwright from Orange County, California. Her plays include Wish You Were Here (Williamstown Audible 2020; Playwrights Horizons 2022) and English (Atlantic/Roundabout 2022; Weissberger New Play Award; Kilroys List). She is currently under commission at the Atlantic Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Repertory, IAMA Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Sanaz is a member of Youngblood and the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at the Lark, and an alum of Clubbed Thumb's Early Career Writers' Group. She was the 2019 P73 Playwriting Fellow and a recipient of the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award.

Whitney White is an Obie Award and Lily Award-winning director, writer, and musician originally from Chicago. She believes in alternative forms of performance, multi-disciplinary work, and collaborative processes. Most recently, Whitney was a staff writer on the Boots Riley series "I'm a Virgo" for Amazon. Recent directing: Semblance (NYTW), The Amen Corner (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (WP Theater, Second Stage), What to Send Up When it Goes Down (The Movement Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth, American Repertory Theatre, The Public). Digital projects: What is Left Burns by James Ijames (Steppenwolf), Finish the Fight by Ming Peiffer (The New York Times).

Alexis Zegerman is a writer and actress from London. Her play, The Fever Syndrome, an MTC/Sloan commission, will have its world premiere in 2022. Previous plays include Holy Shit, which was the first play staged at the Kiln Theatre, and The Steingolds, which was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She was writer-in-residence at the Hampstead Theatre and Paines Plough, and her work has been performed across the UK, including at the Royal Court and Soho Theatre. Alexis is active in film and television, currently working on a number of screen commissions as well as two original series for television.

Manhattan Theatre Club, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country's most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over more than four decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including 7 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 Tony Awards, 40 Drama Desk Awards and 49 Obie Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, adapted by Rona Munro; Ink by James Graham; Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney; August Wilson's Jitney, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, and King Hedley II; Cost of Living by Martyna Majok; Sell/Buy/Date by Sarah Jones; Vietgone by Qui Nguyen; The Father by Florian Zeller, translated by Christopher Hampton; Fool for Love by Sam Shepard; Airline Highway by Lisa D'Amour; Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein; Outside Mullingar and Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; The Commons of Pensacola by Amanda Peet; Murder Ballad by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash; The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg; Wit by Margaret Edson; Venus in Fur by David Ives; Good People and Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire; The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez; Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies; Ruined by Lynn Nottage; Proof by David Auburn; The Tale of the Allergist's Wife by Charles Busch; East is East by Ayub Khan-Din; Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally; Valley Song by Athol Fugard; Pretty Fire and Neat by Charlayne Woodard; Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley; Ain't Misbehavin' (the Fats Waller musical); and Richard Wesley's The Past is the Past, amongst many others. For more information on MTC, please visit

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