Jocelyn Bioh Named MCC's Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence
The goal of the residency is to give a playwright a multi-year home base where they are an integral part of the theater's institutional culture and to provide resources and space to develop new work for production.
MCC is launching the new residency program with the support of Burnt Umber Productions, headed by Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber, which is committed to recognizing and producing bold new voices in the theater.
The residency provides developmental and dramaturgical support for new projects, workspace and access to rehearsal studio space in MCC Theater's new two-theater complex, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, as well as resources for readings and workshops and other resources throughout the term. As Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence, Bioh will also participate in an annual session with MCC Theater's Youth Company Playwriting Lab, part of the theater's free after-school program for New York City high school students.
MCC Theater was introduced to Jocelyn Bioh in March 2016 through her play School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play which was then being read as part of The New Black Fest at The Lark, just three months before it was placed on the 2016 Kilroys List of most recommended un- and under-produced new plays by women, trans and non-binary writers of color. MCC subsequently engaged Jocelyn in an ongoing process involving internal and public readings, which resulted in the company bringing her in-house for a one-year residency through The Tow Foundation in 2017. During that time, MCC gave School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play its world premiere production during their 2017-18 season, where it received three 2018 Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Play, a 2018 Drama Desk Special Award for Ensemble, and the 2018 Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award presented to Jocelyn Bioh. This production was followed by a co-production at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, and an encore run in MCC's 2018-19 season, which was filmed for WNET "Theater Upclose" for future broadcast. It has since been produced extensively around the country.
Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber said of their support, "The choice of Jocelyn Bioh for this residency was a natural choice for Burnt Umber. Jocelyn's debut play, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, continues to make a lasting impression on the American Theater with the numerous productions that have been mounted since its world premiere at MCC Theater in 2017. We are thrilled to partner with MCC and honored to support Jocelyn's talent and artistry as Playwright-in-Residence at the theater."
Will Cantler, Co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater, echoed the acclaim, "Judi and Bill's support for MCC's partnership with Jocelyn is visionary, and a perfect reflection of the taste they bring to all their producing efforts. Bernie, Bob, and I and the entire MCC team are delighted to extend and deepen our partnership with Jocelyn-she's a tremendous artist, a deeply supportive resource to her peers and to our Youth Company, and we are excited about our projects yet to come."
Of her selection Jocelyn Bioh said, "I am very excited about being named the Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence at MCC. As a writer who strived to find a theatrical home that would be engaged and supportive of my work, I'm thrilled to find that partnership with MCC Theater, Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber. To have the support in both development and production is necessary for any writer and I can't wait to continue my incredible journey created with MCC."
Blake West, Executive Director of MCC Theater, said, "We're thrilled to embark on this new program with Judi and Bill and Jocelyn. We built our new home, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, as a place where artists could work and play and take audiences on really exciting adventures. The Burnt Umber residency is one of many new development programs we're launching that will have an undeniable impact on the theater in New York and beyond. Jocelyn's is a wholly original voice and we're thrilled to have her with us in this new role and working on many more projects together."
MCC Theater recently announced that Jocelyn Bioh's world premiere production of Nollywood Dreams, directed by Saheem Ali, will debut in their 2019-2020 season at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, with performances beginning in the Newman Mills Theater on March 19, 2020.