The Playwrights Realm Announces 2016-17 Writing Fellows

The Playwrights Realm Announces 2016-17 Writing Fellows

The Playwrights Realm, led by Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner and Producing DirectorRoberta Pereira, selected four early-career playwrights for its 2015-16 Writing Fellows program: Liza Birkenmeier, Clarence Coo, Donja Love, and Ione Lloyd.

Over the past decade, The Playwrights Realm has continually produced work by brave new voices and worked to introduce new initiatives to expand its commitment to providing holistic support to playwrights as they strive to make a life in the arts. The Writing Fellows program lies at the heart of what The Playwrights Realm does - helping writers write. Each year, four early-career playwrights are selected to join The Playwrights Realm to work on a new play over the course of nine months. Through creative development with The Realm's Artistic Director, Katherine Kovner and Literary Director, Kate Pines, each writer brings their play from draft form to production-ready state.

The Playwrights Realm customizes the fellowship based on each individual fellow, and the collective needs of the group, with an eye on the creative development of each script, as well as the professional development of the cohort of writers. The entire experience is designed to widen each artist's network of resources in order to gain a stronger foothold in the industry. Additionally, the selected playwrights receive a $3,000 stipend, an internal reading, and use of The Realm's office space for printing, writing, meetings and more.

The Fellowship culminates in a final reading of each playwright's finished work in the INK'D Reading Festival. The writers will work with a designer to help develop the physical world of their script, and see select elements of these designs translated to the stage. All readings in INK'D are open to the public, free-of-charge, and will occur in April of 2017.

"Liza, Clarence, Donja and Ione have written four wonderfully transgressive plays that reminds us that theater can and should move us forward as a community and as a society," said Artistic Director Katherine Kovner, "I am tremendously excited to welcome these talented playwrights to The Realm."

The 2016-17 Writing Fellows program drew a record-breaking 373 applicants. Applicants' plays are read by a panel of industry professionals from across the country, and further screened by The Realm's artistic staff members, who interviewed eleven finalists. This year's finalists included: Bryna Turner, Bubba Weiler, Heidi Armbruster, James Anthony Tyler, Justin Taylor, Mat Smart, and Nina Braddock. Finalists are chosen based on their demonstration of intellectual curiosity, commitment to a career as a playwright, and, of course, the promise of their voice and vision.

Since the program's inception in 2009, 13 plays that were developed through The Realm's Writing Fellowship have gone on to (or are scheduled to go on to) full productions at major NYC and regional theaters for a total of 34 productions. Past Writing Fellows include Mia Chung (You For Me For You), Ethan Lipton (Red-Handed Otter), J.C. Lee (The Inexplicable Disappearance of Hector Villaraigosa), Amy Herzog (After the Revolution), Stephanie Zadravec (The Electric Baby), Sarah Gancher (The Place We Built), Elizabeth Irwin (My Mañana Comes), and Mfoniso Udofia, whose fellowship play Sojourners was produced by The Playwrights Realm in 2016, and will be produced in Spring 2017 at New York Theater Workshop, in association with The Playwrights Realm. A complete list of past Writing Fellows can be found at playwrightsrealm.org.

The Playwrights Realm has produced one Off-Broadway play each year since its founding in 2007, giving ample time and support to each playwright. Two years ago, The Realm expanded their season to also include the Alumni Production, dedicated to mounting new works by the growing contingency of Alumni Playwrights who have already been produced by the company. The 2016-17 season celebrates The Realm's 10th Anniversary and is the company's most ambitious to date. Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves opened on Sunday September 11, to rave reviews (Ben Brantley in his New York Times Critic's Pick review called the show "incandescent"), and is set for a sold out run, and Jen Silverman's The Moors will have its New York premiere February 2017 - both plays characterized by irreverent humor, inventive language and a nuanced focus on the female experience.

Liza Birkenmeier (Play: radio island) is a member of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater and is currently collaborating on a piece about water that will premiere with New Georges and 3LD in 2017. Her plays have been seen or heard at Ars Nova, The San Francisco Playhouse, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, University Settlement, City Theater, Invisible Dog, Rattlestick, Dixon Place, New Georges, The San Diego Museum of Art, The School at Steppenwolf, The Classic Coin Laundry, and elsewhere. She is an alum of the Ars Nova Play Group and a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow. radio island was on the 2016 Kilroys List and was a finalist for the inaugural Philip Seymour Hoffman Relentless Award. She received an MFA from Carnegie Mellon under Rob Handel.

Donja R. Love (Play: Sugar in Our Wounds): is a Philadelphia born and raised Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker. His work examines identity by unapologetically dramatizing the multifaceted nuance of Blackness and Queerness - and challenges the white supremacist, heteronormative structures that exist in American culture. He's The Lark's 2016 Van Lier Playwriting Fellow. He's also the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. His work has been featured in multiple festivals, The Advocate, Glaad, NBC, and many other publications. He's the co-host of Broadway Black's podcast Off-Book; the co-founder of Ademide Theatre Ensemble; and The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for GBTQ People of Color, (www.TheEachOtherProject.com). Selected stage-plays include: The Dead N--- Poem (New Dramatists Resident Playwright Semi-finalist), and Sugar In Our Wounds. Selected film work: Modern Day Black Gay (web series), I Hate New York (web series), and The Space Between (short film).

Clarence Coo (Play: The Birds of Empathy) received the 2012 Yale Drama Series Prize for Beautiful Province (Belle Province). His other plays include People Sitting in Darkness, and The God of Wine. Coo's work has been developed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Ma-Yi Theatre, New Dramatists, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has been a Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop fellow at the Lark and a Dramatists Guild fellow. Currently he is a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow, a resident playwright at New Dramatists, a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and the program administrator of Columbia's MFA Writing Program. MFA, Playwriting, Columbia University.

Patricia Ione Lloyd (Play: Eve's Song) is a writer on the AMC television show HAP and Leonard. In 2016 She was a Sundance Resident Playwright for their theater lab in Morocco and a New York Theater Workshop Fellow. Her play Pretty Hunger was a part of the studio workshop series at The Public Theater, NYC. Llyond is an alumna of the 2015 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater. She was a resident playwright at the University of Mumbai, Brown University (through the Africana Studies Department) and the International Theatre and Literacy Project in Tanzania. Her work has been developed by The Public Theater, Labyrinth Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, Red Bull Theatre, Dixon Place, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, New York LGBTQ Center, Fire This Time Festival and others. She is the recipient of New Professional Theatre's Emerging Playwright Award, and Best Play Award from DUTF for her play, Train Bound for Glory.

The Playwrights Realm is devoted to supporting early career playwrights along the journey of playwriting, helping them to hone their craft, fully realize their vision and build meaningful artistic careers. To serve this mission, The Playwrights Realmprovides comprehensive support to playwrights through its Page One Residency,Alumni Playwrights Program, Writing Fellows Residency, and, of course, productions. Previous productions by The Realm include Mfoniso Udofia's Sojourners, Anna Ziegler's A Delicate Ship, Anton Dudley's City Of, Elizabeth Irwin's My Mañana Comes, Lauren Yee's The Hatmaker's Wife, Ethan Lipton's Red-Handed Otter, Jen Silverman's Crane Story, Gonzalo Rodríguez Risco's Dramatis Personae, Christopher Wall's Dreams of the Washer King, Anna Ziegler's Dov and Ali, and Anton Dudley's Substitution. For more, go to www.PlaywrightsRealm.org.

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