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The Playwrights Realm Announces 15th Anniversary Restart Season Expanding Values-Centric Initiatives

The Playwrights Realm continues to make its primary goal serving artists and offering visible paths towards improving all forms of access within the industry.

The Playwrights Realm Announces 15th Anniversary Restart Season Expanding Values-Centric Initiatives

As the theater industry slowly starts to return, The Playwrights Realm seeks to help ensure that it doesn't return the same. The organization has always sought to model equitable, holistic practices-expanding who theater centers and engages, and finding ways to reshape theater-making processes and the industry as a whole. In the early days of the pandemic, it strengthened this commitment by becoming a full-time artists service organization, responding with urgency to a moment of widespread struggle for artists in the field. Now announcing plans for The Restart Season (2021-2022), the Realm's 15th anniversary season, the organization expands on what it's learned across this last year. The Playwrights Realm will forgo productions for a host of resources designed to help make this restart one in which artists and audiences are taken care of first. By expanding programs like Realm Playwrights; its Radical Parent-Inclusion Project (RPI); bringing back the International Theatermakers Award (ITA); and seeking, within all its programs, to further open the organization's services to International Artists, including opening up their Scratchpad Series to artists outside the United States; The Playwrights Realm continues to make its primary goal serving artists and offering visible paths towards improving all forms of access within the industry.

The Playwrights Realm Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner says, "It's deeply embedded in our practice to take care of artists - particularly playwrights! - first. As the possibility of reopening circulated in the media, my first instinct was to reach out to our family of playwrights: a lot of them are not ready to jump back into writing, let alone presenting work, and we're excited to provide ways in which they can get inspired and find time and resources to not only restart their practice, but also envision a whole new theater industry."

The Playwrights Realm Producing Director Roberta Pereira says, "When thinking about 2021-2022, we knew it couldn't suddenly be business as usual. We can't just 'go back,' because first of all, there are a lot of things that we have identified that require reimagining in our industry-so there's work to be done. We're focusing on what's needed right now for the people we serve - artists, the BIPOC community, caretakers, and international theatermakers."

Playwright-Centric Initiatives

For its 15th anniversary season, The Playwrights Realm doubles down on its long-standing support of playwrights by creating The Realm Playwrights Program to make a myriad of resources-including a writers group, a retreat, the provision of roundtable (cold) readings of their scripts with actors, as well as special events, classes, and industry opportunities-available to all playwrights who have participated in its programs since its founding in 2007 (as of the 2020-21 season, 73 in total). Additionally, The Realm will offer financial help to inspire Recommitment, Replenishment and Reimaging. Recommitment funds will help playwrights carve out time to write (without owing The Realm a commission or any other kind of writing); Replenishment funds encourage playwrights to go to museums or galleries, buy books, take a trip-or do anything that may help them get inspired; Reimagining funds cover work on initiatives that seek to reshape the theatrical landscape, be it activism, community engagement, seed funding, or any other ways they want to be leaders in their communities.

"The Realm's programming this year - from the writers group to the virtual retreat to teaching a workshop - has seriously kept me feeling like an artist and like part of a community," says Tasha Gordon-Solmon, a Realm Playwright who was part of the 2019-20 Writing Fellows cohort. "I am so very grateful!"

The Realm's two touchstone play development programs, the Writing Fellowship (which awards four early-career playwrights with nine months of resources, workshops and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals) and Scratchpad Series (a paid developmental process of up to one week culminating in a reading, erasing limitations of geography or access by identifying and inviting playwrights from across the globe to participate)-will return in 2021-2022. The culminating event of the Writing Fellowship, the INK'd Festival of New Plays, featuring readings of Fellows' work-in-progress plays, will return in 2021-2022 as a live, in-person presentation.

In 2020, The Playwrights Realm launched the Script Share program, its first ever-initiative exclusively supporting aspiring playwrights. Conceived by the Realm Associate Artistic Director Alexis Williams and General Manager and Associate Producer Céline Delcayre, Script Share offered guidance to over 200 writers without industry access or a formal theater education, while creating work opportunities for theater professionals whose livelihoods were threatened by the pandemic. Script Share will continue in Fall 2021, bringing aspiring playwrights into dialogue with dramaturgs, literary managers, directors, and many other professionals working in new play development, engaging across one-hour conversations surrounding a particular script chosen by the playwright.

Values-Centric Initiatives

The Playwrights Realm's Radical Parent-Inclusion Project (RPI) began in 2019 in conjunction with the Realm's production of Anna Moench's Mothers-and throughout that process offered free childcare at auditions; family-friendly scheduling; intentional hiring of parent-artists in lead positions; family-friendly housing for Moench; flexibility of on-site expectations for creative staff with children; increased support for parent-artists during high-demand episodes; and a childcare-accessible matinee available to all ticket-holders. Since then, the organization has continued to consider ways to implement this project across their programming. Next season, RPI will expand to offer caretaking refunds for all artistic collaborators and, for audience members of their online Community Programming as well.

This coming season, the Realm also brings back the International Theatermakers Award (ITA), designed to recognize and provide assistance to international theatermakers making crucial contributions to the American theater, particularly from demographic groups that are underrepresented in the industry. Applications for the award, which will again be given to five artists across theater-world professions, are open now through August 15 at 11:59pm. At a panel tomorrow, June 24, the winners of last year's award (designer Alexandra Vásquez Dheming, director Danilo Gambini, designer Omar Madkour, playwright Jeton Neziraj, and designer Cha See) will virtually convene, and will have the opportunity to answer any questions about their experiences of the application process. Applicants will be scored on artistic merit (recognized excellence of the artist's past work around the world, including but not limited to the United States), artistic promise (expectation of the artist to continue to produce work of exceptional merit), and contribution (including creative work and leadership that expands the artists represented in American theater, especially supporting historically underrepresented and/or underprivileged voices).

The ITA is a partnership between The Playwrights Realm and Dyer Harris LLP, a New York law firm whose focus is immigration for creative artists and professionals. The award seeks to bring clarity and comfort to the people caught up in the American immigration system, and to contribute to expanding the plurality of voices in American theater. The award offers free of charge, legal assistance by Dyer Harris LLP in applying for an O-1B artist visa (including related filing charges) to up to five (increased both in 2020 and 2021 from the original goal of three) international theatermakers, selected by a panel of experts led by The Playwrights Realm. As per The Playwrights Realm mission, at least one theatermaker must be a playwright. Also featured within this initiative are free public digital panels on U.S. artist visa and green card application processes for International Artists. These seek to demystify these processes and expand the comfort and knowledge of International Artists and American theatermakers wanting to work with immigrant artists.

As part of The Realm's ongoing anti-racism, anti-oppression work (which is tracked in a publicly available report), the organization will also use this season to develop a new production model that takes into account its learnings so far, as well as best practices offered by BIPOC activists and leaders.

Community-Centric Initiatives

The Playwrights Realm will continue to offer online programming free of charge and available to all, expanding access well after theater returns to physical space. Programming will be offered within three (sometimes overlapping) tracks, offering people comprehensive curricula responding to their theatrical interests: Aspiring Playwrights, with classes and workshops that will cover the basics of getting started with playwriting and explaining the theater industry for those who have not yet received institutional support; Theater Lovers, with panels and interviews providing glimpses into the business of making theater and spotlighting artists and administrators shaping the field; and Changemakers, with panels and plenaries around projects such as The Realm's Radical Parent-Inclusion Project or International Theatermakers Award, or other initiatives that envision a new way of doing theater.

The Playwrights Realm Announces 15th Anniversary Restart Season Expanding Values-Centric Initiatives

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