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The Playwrights Realm Announces 2018-19 Writing Fellows

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Over the past twelve years, The Playwrights Realm, led by Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner and Producing Director Roberta Pereira, has continually produced work by brave new voices and expanded its commitment to providing holistic support to playwrights striving to make a life in the arts. With its 2018-2019 Writing Fellowship, The Playwrights Realm is proud to grant a career-propelling honor to four tremendously talented playwrights exhibiting drive and commitment to the form: Bleu Beckford-Burrell (Lyons Pride), Sarah Einspanier (I LOVE SEAN), Keelay Gipson (#NewSlaves), andElse C. Went (Saving Throw).

The Writing Fellowship is at the heart of what The Playwrights Realm does: helping writers write. Four early-career playwrights receive nine months of resources, workshops and feedback designed to help them develop a new play and reach their professional and artistic goals. Monthly group meetings provide a collaborative, energizing setting for writers to share and refine their work. Individual meetings with The Realm's artistic staff support each writer's specific artistic process. Fellows work with a director, design consultant, and actors over the course of two workshops to see their work come to life. Professional development resources are also an integral part of the program and are tailored to the Writing Fellows group. Mentor opportunities, meet-and-greets, and professional workshops shed light on the often opaque business of theatre, and empower the Fellows to be active, informed participants in their own careers.

"I'm thrilled by the talented and thoughtful Writing Fellows we are working with this season!" said Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner. "Each of them has a truly unique voice yet they are all tackling timely and compelling themes. From Keelay's examination of the NFL's commodification of black male bodies, to Sarah's exploration of The Bachelor's effect on female friendships, expectations and fantasies, to Bleu's tale of a Jamaican family's struggles in America, to Else's high school Dungeon and Dragons group striving to figure out their identities-in the game and real life. I am honored to have them join The Realm Family and I have no doubt they will become vibrant new voices in the American Theatre."

"I'm so excited to be spending the next 9 months working with these wonderful and talented playwrights!" said Alexis Williams, the Realm's recently appointed Associate Artistic Director. "Getting to delve into the plays of this fantastic group and to offer professional development support to exciting early career playwrights is the fun part of my job and is exactly what drew me to the Realm in the first place. It's going to be a great year."

In addition to creative and professional support, selected playwrights receive a $3,000 stipend, an internal reading with actors, and generous 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 play as part of the INK'D Festival of New Work. The writers will work with a designer to help develop the physical world of their script and can also employ elements of these designs on stage in their readings. All readings in INK'D are open to the public, free-of-charge, and will occur in the spring of 2019.

In the review process, applicants' plays are read by playwrights, producers, dramaturgs, and directors from across the country. Finalists' plays go through several rounds of readings, and finalists themselves are interviewed by Realm staff. The 2018-19 Writing Fellowship drew nearly 400 applicants. Fellows 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.

In addition to the four selected playwrights, finalists for this year's Fellowship include: Ricardo Pérez González's Fish,

Elisabeth Frankel's 2076, Donnetta Lavinia Grays' Laid to Rest, J. Julian Christopher's Bruise & Thorn, Jessica Huang's Zero-Infinity Flight Path, Amy Berryman's The New Galileos, and Charly Evon Simpson's form of a girl unknown. Semi-finalists include Raquel Almazan's Café, Kari Bentley-Quinn's The Diver, Nathan Dame's Certain Tragic Events, Katja Gottlieb-Stier's Human Animal, Trish Harnetiaux's Bender and Brian, Amina Henry's The Great Novel, Monet Hurst-Mendoza's Torera, Divya Mangwani'sthe cow swallows its tale, and Andrew Rosendorf's Mermaid.

Since the program's inception in 2009, 20 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. Past Writing Fellows include Amy Herzog (After the Revolution), Bekah Brunstetter (Hey Brother), Mia Chung (You For Me For You), J.C. Lee (The Inexplicable Disappearance of Hector Villaraigosa), Ethan Lipton (Red-Handed Otter), Stefanie Zadravec (The Electric Baby), Joe Tracz (In The Woods Where Wolves Are), Mfoniso Udofia (Sojourners), Amelia Roeper (Lottie in the Late Afternoon), Elizabeth Irwin (My Mañana Comes), Sarah Gancher (The Place We Built), Celine Song (Endlings), Patricia Ione Lloyd (Eve's Song) and Donja R. Love (Sugar in Our Wounds). A complete list of past Writing Fellows can be found at

About the 2018-19 Writing Fellows

Bleu Beckford-Burrell is a first-generation Jamaican-American actor/playwright. Born and raised in New York City, she works for a non-profit organization where she teaches acting to teens, as well as writing and directing plays. Her M.F.A in acting was received at Rutgers university, some credits include; Doubt as Mrs. Muller, Uncle Vanya as Marina, Intimate Apparel as Mrs. Dickson; NYC Credits, Nelly as Jenny, Hobart's Dilemma as Eileen, Seen Her as Yara. She is the 2018 Yale Drama Series Award Runner Up, A new member for New Georges 2019 The Jam Director-playwright Lab, a former member of the Obie Award Winning Ensemble Studio Theatre playwright's group Youngblood and was Page73 2017 Summer resident. She was also commissioned for the EST 2019 One-Act Play Festival. Her plays include P.S.365 (EST workshop series,The National Black Theatre's Keep the Soul Alive reading series), Lyons Pride (EST Bloodwork Reading Series, Finalist for 2018 PWC New Voices Fellowship, Finalist of 2018 BAPF, Finalist for 2018 Princess Grace Award) and La Race (EST 2018 Bloodwork Reading Series). Some of her short plays produced at EST Brunch series and Play festivals include: Tomorrow Tomorrow Yesterday Tomorrow, Neutered, M.D.M.A., Forecon, and Masque.

Sarah Einspanier is a playwright from Dallas, TX. Her plays include I LOVE SEAN, The Convent of Pleasure (Cherry Lane's Mentor Project with Sheila Callaghan), House Plant (Horton Foote Scholar at Sewanee Writers' Conference with Naomi Iizuka), Lunch Bunch (upcoming, Clubbed Thumb's Winterworks), and MADONNA col BAMBINO created with composer Deepali Gupta and director Caitlin Sullivan (Ars Nova's ANT Fest and the New Ohio's Ice Factory, curated by New Georges). Her work has also been developed and presented by Ars Nova's Play Group, Clubbed Thumb's Early Career Writers' Group, the New Georges Jam, a New Georges Special Residency, New York Theatre Workshop's Mondays @ 3, and Williamstown Theatre Festival's Directing Studio. She has been a resident at the Millay Colony, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Stratford New Works Lab, and has participated in Erik Ehn's annual Texas Silent Writing Retreat.

Keelay Gipson is an Activist, Teaching Artist, and award-winning Playwright whose plays include #NewSlaves (Finalist; The O'Neill), CRH, or the placenta play (Semi- Finalist; The O'Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Conference, AADA Main Stage Live!), N*gger/F*ggot (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), The Lost (Or, How to Just Be), What I Tell You in the Dark (Premiere Stages Finalist), and Mary/Stuart, a dramatic queering of friederich schiller's classic play (BAM Next Wave Festival, partnership with Wendy's Subway and Lambda Literary). He is the recipient of the Van Lier Fellowship (2016-2018) at New Dramatists, as well as writing fellowships with Lambda Literary, The Amoralists, Page 73 and the Dramatist Guild Foundation. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of New York, the Administration of Children's Services of the City of New York, New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Season at Vassar College and Yale University. His work has been seen/developed at the Wild Project, HERE Arts Center, Pace University, National Black Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights' Theater, The Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop. He is published in The Best American Short Plays anthology by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books and 48 Hours in Harlem, Vol. 3 by Harlem9.

Else C. Went is a co-founder of The Renovationists and current member of Trans Theatre Lab. Their work has been produced and developed by Trans Lab @ The Public and WP, The Tank, The Brick, The Flea, Living Room Theatre, and Parity Productions. Recipient of 2017 Parity Productions' commission for women and transgender playwrights. Finalist for The Public's Emerging Writers Group, Ingram Works New Play Lab @ Nashville Rep, Scratchpad Series @ Playwright's Realm; semi-finalist for the Ars Nova Play Group, and Shakespeare's New Contemporaries @ American Shakespeare Center. Plays include They Stay Together, Old Names for Wildflowers, Courage! To the Field!, Three Seconds, Saving Throw, Boxcar, The Great American Folksong, and The Tarantists. BA Sarah Lawrence College.

About The Playwrights Realm

Hailed as "invaluable" by The New York Times' Ben Brantley, The Playwrights Realm (Katherine Kovner, Founding Artistic Director; Roberta Pereira, Producing Director) 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 Realm provides comprehensive support to playwrights through its Page One Residency, Alumni Playwrights Program, Writing Fellowship, Scratchpad Series and, of course, productions. Previous productions by The Realm include Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves (Pulitzer finalist in Drama 2017, Lortel, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle nominations, Obie award and Drama Desk special award for outstanding ensemble), Don Nguyen's Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth, Michael Yates Crowley's The Rape of the Sabine Women by Grace B. Matthias, Jen Silverman's The Moors, 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. Jonathan Payne's The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll'd is currently running at the Duke on 42nd Street until October 6th.

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