Cadence Pipeline New Works Fellows Selected

By: Aug. 14, 2018

Cadence Pipeline New Works Fellows Selected

Cadence Theatre Company, in partnership with Virginia Repertory Theatre, is proud to announce the names of the five fellows who have been selected to participate in the inaugural Cadence Pipeline New Works Fellowship. The initiative, funded in part by founding sponsor CapTech, affords five Virginia playwrights the opportunity to develop new work under the artistic guidance and mentorship of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. Cadence Theatre Company has produced several of Lindsay-Abaire's plays in partnership with Virginia Rep, most recently the award-winning Rabbit Hole in 2017.

The fellows selected to participate in 2018-2019's Pipeline New Works Fellowship are Brittany Fisher, Will Inman, Irene Ziegler, and writing duo Sanam Laila Hashemi and Steven Burneson.

Over the course of nine months, the fellows will meet with Lindsay-Abaire, commencing this fall with an initial meeting in Richmond. Throughout the winter and spring, the playwrights will continue under his guidance with two additional Richmond-based meet-ups and individual video mentoring sessions to re-engage with a variety of playwriting fundamentals. The Richmond meet-ups will offer the fellows a creative community, fostering motivation and accountability. The fellowship will culminate in a series of public readings in June 2019.

"Supporting the development of new work has been a priority for Cadence since its creation," said Anna Senechal Johnson, Cadence's Artistic and Managing Director. "As we approached our tenth anniversary, we decided that the time was right to launch this new initiative. We have been so grateful for David's vision in its creation and for his mentorship of these Virginia playwrights."

David Lindsay-Abaire

shared, "Nothing excites me more than seeing new plays come to life. So what a privilege it was for me to be invited to Cadence to work with an astoundingly talented group of writers, and to be a small part of a process that will help them bring four brand new plays into the world. Under the visionary leadership of Anna Senechal Johnson, Cadence has proven itself to be one of the most vital and relevant theater companies in the country. Developing new work by local playwrights is a thrilling next step for them."

The Cadence Pipeline New Works Fellowship aligns with Virginia Rep's commitment to New Play Development, a flexible and dynamic initiative that encompasses commissioning and developing work from inception, supporting development already in process, and shepherding a play to its world premiere and beyond. "This exciting new initiative is the perfect complement to our existing New Play Development efforts, as it satisfies the Rep's longstanding devotion to Virginia talent," said Virginia Rep Artistic Director Nathaniel Shaw.

David Lindsay-Abaire is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, and librettist. His play Good People premiered on Broadway and was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, the Horton Foote Prize, the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony Award nominations. His previous play, Rabbit Hole, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, five Tony nominations, and the Spirit of America Award. David also wrote the book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical (Jeanine Tesori, composer), which was nominated for eight Tonys, four Oliviers, and a Grammy, and earned David the Ed Kleban Award as America's most promising musical theater lyricist. David's other plays include Ripcord, Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, Wonder of the World, and A Devil Inside, among others. In addition to his work in theater, David's screen credits include his film adaptation of Rabbit Hole (starring Nicole Kidman (Oscar nomination)), Dreamworks' Rise of the Guardians, and The Family Fang, among others. He is also, along with Marsha Norman, co-chair of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School.

Cadence Theatre Company's mission is to inspire and transform our community by presenting contemporary theatrical works and educational programs that uplift the spirit, challenge the mind, and honor both our individuality and our shared humanity. Through a commitment to artistic excellence, Cadence fearlessly tells the stories of our lives as we live them now. In pursuing its mission, Cadence, in partnership with Virginia Repertory Theatre, presents a three- show season that celebrates the world's most renowned playwrights, composers, and lyricists, including such award-winning productions as Fun Home, Rabbit Hole, The Mountaintop, and Caroline, Or Change. Cadence also engages with the Richmond community by offering a wide range of educational and outreach programs for individuals of all ages, including Stage Write (a program for local high school students that uses theater arts to teach workforce readiness skills), TRAIN (a pre-professional theater training program), Sitelines (bringing free theater to public spaces across the city), 4th Wall Student Leadership Program, summer camps, internships, and classes and workshops for adults.

Virginia Repertory Theatre is a nonprofit, professional theater company and the result of the 2012 merger of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV. With four distinct venues, an educational

touring arm, and an annual audience of over 530,000, Virginia Rep is the largest professional theater in Central Virginia. We are dedicated to the development and production of new plays, and we seek outside producing collaboration to ensure that the play has a life beyond its development and production at Virginia Rep. For over sixty years, Virginia Rep has served Virginia's adults, children, families, and schools and contributed to the cultural, educational, and economic life of our city and region. Virginia Rep embraces the art form in its entirety, presenting plays of all genres and national origins, serving an audience of all ages and backgrounds. In keeping with the legacies of Barksdale and Theatre IV, the hallmark of our nonprofit company is community engagement. To that end, we seek national caliber excellence in the arts, education, children's health, and community leadership.

CapTech ( is a national IT management consulting firm that bridges the gap between business and technology. We partner with some of the world's most successful companies to design, develop, and manage technical and digital solutions that delight customers, drive insights, and meet strategic objectives. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, CapTech has locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), Denver, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Brittany Fisher is a native of Richmond, Virginia, and received her B.A. from James Madison University, where she majored in Journalism with a Creative Writing minor. She is passionate about creative writing and hopes to obtain her MFA in playwriting. Her writing and photography have been featured in various publications, including Virginia's Best Emerging Poets (Z Publishing) and Kinfolks: a journal of black expression. Her play Red was featured at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her goal is to create art through storytelling and to continue to thrive in her artistic passions.

Sanam Laila Hashemi and Steven Burneson met as undergraduates at Virginia Tech's School of Performing Arts in 2016, where they both received honors for their contributions to the production programs. As collaborators, they aim to create stories they can independently produce, whether on stage or screen. Their first collective work, the short film Jiggle the Knob, screened at film festivals across the country and received the Best Narrative Short Film award at the 2018 Progeny Film Festival. Sanam draws from her theatre performance background, especially her training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio (NYC). Her collaborations include Theater of War Productions (NYC) and Porte Parole Theatre Company (Montreal). This past year, she worked with Cadence Theatre Company as an actor (The Christians) and as the Education and House Management intern. Steven is a writer, director, cinematographer, and an editor. Most recently, his animated screenplay Rickety's Birdhouse received the Best Family Short Script award at the 2018 Hollywood Hills Awards.

Will Inman's one-act play Bad Days was selected for a staged reading at the Kennedy Center in 2013 as part of the VSA student playwright competition. He produced his next piece, Estate Sale, as part of 2014's SummerStage festival at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center to sold-out crowds. Will's plays have received a variety of writing awards and productions, including the Rogers State University Original Recipe retrospective and the Writopia Labs Comedy

Playwriting Festival, both in 2014. In 2015, his play The Lesbian Exhibit was featured as part of Tulsa's Fringe Festival. The Lesbian Exhibit received a mainstage reading in February at Rogers State University and a portion of the play was performed at Torrent Theatre in New York City. Will was awarded the inaugural Edward Albee Playwriting Award in 2018 by Theresa Rebeck for his play Winners. He received his training from the University of Houston's playwriting and dramaturgy program.

Irene Ziegler is an actor, novelist, playwright, and co-editor (with John Capecci) of eight collections of monologues. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she participates on many levels in Richmond's diverse theater scene. She is also a film and television actor (Mr. Mercedes, The Walking Dead, Safe Haven, and others) and has done significant voiceover work, including serving as the current voice on GRTC and PULSE bus announcements. Her short plays have been performed internationally.

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