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The Breath Project Announces New Play Commission Initiative

The Breath Project is building on The Breath Project Virtual Festival, which featured 24 world premiere works—all 8 minutes and 46 in length.

The Breath Project Announces New Play Commission Initiative

The Breath Project announced the recipients of the New Play Commission Initiative. Building on the success of last fall's inaugural The Breath Project Virtual Festival, which featured 24 world premiere works-all 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length-from multidisciplinary theater artists of color from around the country, the New Play Commission Initiative will provide five of those works with $17,000 commissions each to develop full-length plays based on or inspired by their original festival submission. A sixth commission will be awarded in spring 2021. In addition, each recipient will receive dramaturgical and new play development support from San Diego Repertory Theatre or one of The Breath Project's other partner theaters.

"We are forever grateful to the generous donors who have allowed The Breath Project to expand opportunities for theater artists of color and further our mission of building a more equitable theater community," said Chasten. "With assistance from our nationwide partner theaters, we are thrilled these selected artists are able to expand on their original works and experience the new play development process firsthand. We look forward to seeing the finished projects on stage soon."

"As one of the Breath Project's partner theatres, San Diego REP artistic leaders are thrilled to see the many voices that encapsulated their visions into 8 minutes and 46 seconds are now being supported to expand their art through this new play commission. We are eager to get to know each of the artists and help support the development of their work." -Danielle Ward, Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager

The recipients of the New Play Commission Project grants are (in alphabetical order):

Giovanny Camarena

This young L.A.-based playwright represents a young generation of writers in our country who have left behind much of the biases of the past. His proposal was thoughtful and detailed in a way that conveyed a laser focused attention to the times we are living through. The Breath Project is commissioning Giovanny's play, Don't Be Afraid. The play will largely take place in a Downtown L.A. taco shop. Giovanny would like the structure of the piece to be reminiscent of Lynn Nottage's Sweat, and serve as a fictional documentation of the times we are living through.

Link to bio and 8:46 submission:

Gamal Chasten, in collaboration with Palo Alto Children's Theatre

Gamal will be working on a youth piece based on his 8:46 submission, Say Hello, Stewart, in collaboration with Palo Alto Children's Theatre, and other youth programs across the country. His new play will explore the life of a young boy who, left alone during the long days of COVID lockdown, dreams of becoming the first Indian superhero.

Link to 8:46 submission:

Tyharra Cozier

Tyharra is a poet, actor, and activist from Portland, Oregon who uses poetry and storytelling to create a healing space to share with her audiences. Her work is deeply rooted in activism and action. Having taken to the streets of Portland during last year's protest, her piece Outside of Space and Time will look to be approximately 90 minutes in length, incorporating original poetry, music and storytelling with some reimagined soul/r&b/hip hop songs. Outside of Space and Time will be an intimate invitation to a soulful conversation, developed in collaboration with the musical collective We Are People Music (Dani Danger, Charlie Brown (iii), Samuel Eisen-Meyers).

Link to bio and 8:46 submission:

El Colectivo de Dramaturgos de Puerto Rico

An ensemble of eight playwright/actors from Puerto Rico whose strength lies in their multi-generational make-up and perspective. The play will take place in NYC and Puerto Rico, and will be a direct extension of their 8:46 submission. Due to the complex and inequitable relationship that the U.S. has with Puerto Rico, the voice of the Puerto Rican artist is essential in painting a more complete picture of our struggle with ourselves as a country. Together, the eight playwrights will develop the characters who inhabit an interwoven narrative, and cross one another's paths in life-altering ways, as they search for acceptance, love, meaning and redemption in the time of COVID.

Link to bio and 8:46 submission:

Derek J. Snow

Derek's new play Silas the Uninvited will be inspired by his powerful 8:46 submission The Ballad of the Dying Body, one of the few pieces in The Breath Project archive that was filmed on a theater stage during our country's lockdown. After Silas is lynched in the 1930s, his undead spirit encounters a ghostly stranger who offers him the chance at a new life in the same skin, if-after visiting 1960, 1990, and 2020-he finds a time more equitable than 1930. An established playwright from Cincinnati, The Breath Project is excited to offer Derek the chance to see his work performed in from of audiences from different communities, as well as having the opportunity to connect with other theater-makers around the country.

Link to bio and 8:46 submission:

The Breath Project was formed in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The 8 minutes and 46 second time frame has become a symbol for the racial injustice faced by countless members of the Black community across the United States. Through art, action, and advocacy, The Breath Project seeks to build a more equitable theater community in this country, and actively dismantle structural racism in the American Theater. In partnership with organizations and artists across the nation, The Breath Project creates, develops, and supports original theatrical works, created by BIPOC artists. The work that is housed in The Breath Project archive will be used as a tool for education and advocacy, as a living time capsule of this moment in history. To view the archive, visit:

Theaters partnering with The Breath Project include (in alphabetical order): Alabama Shakespeare Festival (Montgomery, AL); Alumni Theater Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Cherry Lane Theatre (New York, NY); Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Cincinnati, Ohio); City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Company One (Boston, MA); Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA); Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO); Detroit Public Theatre (Detroit, MI); Dorset Theatre Festival (Dorset, VT), Face Off Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI), Flat Rock Playhouse (Flat Rock, NC); Flint Repertory Theatre (Flint, MI); Kumu Kahua Theatre (Honolulu, HI); Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA); Network of Ensemble Theaters (National Service Organization); Palo Alto Children's Theatre (Palo Alto, CA); Pillsbury House Theatre (Minneapolis, MN);; Rude Mechs (Austin, TX); San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego, CA); Southern Rep Theatre (New Orleans, LA); Studio Theatre (Washington DC); Two River Theater (Red Bank, NJ); and Western Michigan University Department of Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI).

For more information on The Breath Project, visit

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