Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce 2021 Artist Cultivation Event and EST/Sloan Project Commissions

This year's event will take place virtually, over Zoom, on Thursday December 2 at 8PM EST.

By: Nov. 23, 2021

Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce 2021 Artist Cultivation Event and EST/Sloan Project Commissions

Ensemble Studio Theatre (EST) (William Carden, Artistic Director), along with The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Doron Weber, Vice-President and Program Director) and the EST/Sloan Project, announced today the 2021 Fall Artist Cultivation Event for the EST/Sloan Project. This year's event will take place virtually, over Zoom, on Thursday December 2 at 8PM EST. EST and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are also pleased to announce new EST/Sloan Project commissions for 2021.

The 2021 Fall Artist Cultivation Event is free, and any playwright interested in developing a play about science or technology is encouraged to attend to hear a far-ranging discussion about science, storytelling and what makes plays work. The panel will feature Jad Abumrad (Producer and host of "Radiolab"), Sam Chanse (What You are Now, premiering in February 2022), Karine Gibbs (Associate Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley) Lucas Hnath (Dana H., Isaac's Eye), and Mandë Holford (Associate Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center). Advance registration is required and can be made here.

The 2021 Sloan Commission recipients and plays are Karina Billini (Apple Bottom), Nikki Brake-Sillá (ReWombed), Dustin H. Chinn (The People vs. Andy Hildebrand), Xandra Nur Clark (Ursa Major), Sandra A. Daley-Sharif (Mother Wit: The Onnie Lee Logan Story), Jeanne Dorsey (The Kit: Made by Martha), Kareem Fahmy (Riparian States), Amy Gijsbers van Wijk (Beckon, or The G-Spot Play), Nadja Leonhard-Hooper (want.want.outside.love you), Thandiwe Mawungwa (How Power Flows), Allyson Morgan (Teenage Huntress), Ankita Raturi (Thesis Defense), Kira Rockwell (Space Town), Caitlin Saylor Stephens (Bunnies) and Zhu Yi (Frozen).

EST is also now accepting proposals for the 2022 EST/Sloan Project commissions. Proposals will be accepted through January 15, 2022, and guidelines are available here.

EST is proud to continue their partnership with the Sloan Foundation through the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project. Started in 1998, the EST/Sloan Project is an initiative designed to stimulate artists to create credible and compelling work exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in the popular imagination.

2021 Sloan Commission Recipients

Karina Billini - Apple Bottom

Gladys Castillo has spent her whole life bullied by her Dominican chicken hen for her boyish figure. Why did God decide to make her look like Olive Oyl instead of a voluptuous goddess like her cousins? Jokes on them; Gladys plays God now. In 2018, Dr. Castillo is now a prestigious plastic surgeon performing Brazilian butt lifts on rich white women looking to look like Kim Kardashian and well.... the curvy Dominican women she grew up with. Times sure have change since the Britney Spears era of Gladys' childhood. But when members of the chicken hen begin to show up at Gladys' practice in agonizing pain from illegal butt injections-Gladys can't help to wonder-Is she any different from the back-alley monsters who performed on her loved ones?

Nikki Brake-Sillá - ReWombed

ReWombed takes place over the course of multiple office visits, between Pastor Rachel Johnson and Dr. Eve Jardín, OBGYN. Eve challenges Rachel's participation in a trial whose selection process, coupled with the biological harm of immunosuppression drugs, cervical biopsies, and numerous abdominal surgeries, have made it impossible for her to uphold her vow to do no harm.

Dustin H. Chinn - The People vs. Andy Hildebrand

Andy Hildebrand is an engineer whose work in signal processing led to two far-reaching advances. The first was the improvement of oil exploration for Exxon. The second was the invention of Auto-Tune. Dr. Hildebrand has a lot to answer for, so it's time to put the show in show trial (with songs!).

Xandra Nur Clark - Ursa Major

It is simultaneously present-day New York and Stalin-era Soviet Moscow. A mother writes a book on crystallography while her daughter explores genderqueerness. A scientist studies properties of clay minerals while falling in love with her female colleague's girlfriend. Inspired by the stories of three real Soviet women and with a live soundtrack of Russian folk songs, Ursa Major is a story of heritage, love and the work that often gets overlooked in the historical record.

Sandra A. Daley-Sharif - Mother Wit: The Onnie Lee Logan Story

Onnie Lee Logan, one of our first feminists, struggled to become a licensed midwife to Black and white women of Mobile County, Alabama, during the Depression and the prejudice of the rural South. Her life, death and legacy of a woman's right to reproductive health still resonates today.

Jeanne Dorsey - The Kit: Made by Martha

The Kit: Made by Martha explores how Martha Goddard's innovative thinking set her on a path to creating and instituting the first Rape Kit, a powerful scientific procedure and tool that would transform criminal forensics and bring justice to countless victims of sexual assault.

Kareem Fahmy - Riparian States

It's known as "The Mother of All Men," the Nile, the world's longest river. Countries that rely on the same body of water are referred to as "riparian states," and currently two of them-Egypt and Ethiopia-are at the brink of war. The completion of a new Ethiopian dam would transform that country, but the Egyptians see it as a threat to theirs, hastening doubt and famine. Riparian States focuses on the climatologists and engineers who are caught in a power struggle that could destabilize the entire economy of Africa.

Amy Gijsbers van Wijk - Beckon, or The G-Spot Play

It's the 1980s, and Rose is a medical student with her wedding date looming. She is questioning everything, including her understanding of her most intimate (like, seriously, hand-mirror intimate) self. When Rose and her aloof classmate Lora pair up to run a study, Rose finds herself suddenly fighting against the medical establishment, social norms, and spending a lot of time with the vaginas of cadavers, all in hopes of finding answers to questions that polite society seems too afraid to even ask.

Nadja Leonhard-Hooper - want.want.outside.love you.

want.want.outside.love you. is a comedy about using language, consciousness, affection, reward and the difficulty of removing yourself from the equation.

Thandiwe Mawungwa - How Power Flows

How Power Flows is a 90-minute play which follows the internal and external struggles of a young woman who is determined to put a mini hydro-electric power station in a remote Zimbabwean village community where nothing can be done without consultation and approval of the ancestors.

Allyson Morgan - Teenage Huntress

In 2018, an international team of archaeologists and anthropologists working in Peru found the 9,000-year-old remains of a great warrior, who was imagined to be fierce male hunter. But they were wrong: she was a teenage girl, who probably loved spear throwing as much as painting her nails. This is a play about being known; the chasm between who we are and who we are imagined to be. But mostly, a story about a young woman who defies modern gender norms and the researchers who fight to preserve her legacy.

Ankita Raturi - Thesis Defense

A party for a successful doctoral thesis defense in Biochemistry turns volatile when the uncommon collection of minds gathered to celebrate clashes spectacularly over vaccine science. Thesis Defense asks whose responsibility it is to ensure we all understand the science that governs our world.

Kira Rockwell - Space Town

Planted within the farm fields of McGregor, Texas is SpaceX's Rocket Development and Test Facility. Space Town follows five friends across the span of four Sunday mornings as they voluntarily scavenge for launch wreckage. Space Town is a tender drama that explores our current commercial space race and everyman's proximity to this billion-dollar industry.

Caitlin Saylor Stephens - Bunnies

1978. In the back of the Chicago Playboy Club, five Playboy Bunnies and an activist hold an assembly party for a remarkable new invention: the rape kit.

Zhu Yi - Frozen

A musical about two Chinese women's friendship and egg freezing journey across the border when China bans single women freezing their eggs, Frozen explores the history of reproductive justice, female friendship, adventures in a foreign land, and the poetry in defending our most primal instinct with technology.

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