The Playwrights Realm Fetes All-Female 2017-18 Writing Fellows
Over the past eleven 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 2017-2018 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: Isabella D'Esposito (Albert County Public Library System; Lakeside Branch), Christina Quintana (Azul), Sarah B. Mantell (Everything That Never Happened), and Celine Song (Endlings).
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 reach their professional and artistic goals.
Over the course of the season, Fellows develop a single new play. 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 individual group of Writing Fellows. 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 with the visionary and fearless women who will be this season's Writing Fellows," said Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner. "Even more than that, I'm thrilled to be able to spend the year with them and their plays: Celine's exploration of the world of Korean haenyeos and her own questions of identity, Christina's examination of Cuba and sexuality, Sarah's take on The Merchant of Venice and anti-Semitism throughout time, and Isabella's tale of a group of public library volunteers dealing with mortality. It is an honor to get to be part of these playwrights' journeys, to offer them the resources of The Realm and, perhaps most importantly, to create a space for them to learn from each other."
In addition to creative and professional support, Fellows 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 INK'D, a festival of new work. All readings in INK'D are open to the public, free-of-charge, and will occur in the spring of 2018.
In the review process each year, applicants' plays are read by playwrights, producers, dramaturgs, and directors from across the country, and finalists' work undergoes several rounds of reading, before the finalists themselves are interviewed by Realm staff. The 2017-18 Writing Fellowship drew nearly 350 applicants. 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.
In addition to the four selected playwrights, finalists for this year's Fellowship include: Sofia Alvarez (Lodge), Kari Bentley-Quinn (Wendy and the Neckbeards), Emily Feldman (Pick a Color), Fedna Jacquet (Pefeksyon), Jake Jeppson (No Cure), MJ Kaufman (Narwhals: Unicorns of the Sea), and Ricardo Pérez González (Don't Eat the Mangoes). This year's semi-finalists include: Kate Attwell (Mercury), Hilary Bettis (The History of American Pornography), Milo Cramer (Apology Circle), Guadalís Del Carmen (Anacaona & Yemayá Taught Me...), Deaon Griffin-Pressley (False Brotherhood (His Profile Reflected God)), Liz Morgan (Deliver:?Letters to the Motherland from a Foreign Body), Daaimah Mubashshir (Not in This Room), Ming Peiffer (Usual Girls), Jacob Perkins (Home Church Play), Tyler Rivenbark (By the Grace of Fireflies), Jan Rosenberg (How to Destroy an American Girl Doll), Andrew Rosendorf (Paper Cut), Charly Evon Simpson (Jump), Sofya Levitsky-Weitz (Gehinnom), and Kit Yan (T(estosterone)).
Since the program's inception in 2009, 12 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 Mia Chung (You For Me For You), J.C. Lee (The Inexplicable Disappearance of Hector Villaraigosa), Bekah Brunstetter (Hey Brother), Amy Herzog (After the Revolution), Joe Tracz (In The Woods Where Wolves Are), Elizabeth Irwin (My Mañana Comes), Sarah Gancher (The Place We Built), and Mfoniso Udofia (Sojourners). Donja R. Love's play Sugar in Our Wounds was developed during his 2016-17 Writing Fellowship and will be produced by the Manhattan Theater Club in June 2018. A complete list of past Writing Fellows can be found at playwrightsrealm.org.
A cornerstone of the company's work is its Page One Residency, and 2017-18 is the first season in which The Realm will be supporting two Page One residents. Michael Yates Crowley's The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Grace B. Matthias opened on Sunday, September 10, and Don Nguyen's Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth, will premiere in spring 2018. The expansion of the Page One Residency program is motivated by the immense success of recent Page One Residents, like 2015-16 Page One Resident Mfoniso Udofia and her play Sojourners, which, after being produced by The Realm, was subsequently put on by New York Theatre Workshop in rep with Udofia's Her Portmanteau. Both productions were produced in association with The Playwrights Realm and were New York Times Critic's picks. In addition, the 2016-17 Page One Resident, Sarah DeLappe and her play The Wolves, received a Drama Desk Special Award and an Obie Award for Outstanding Ensemble, was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and returns this fall to Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi Newhouse Theater.
ABOUT THE 2017-18 WRITING FELLOWS:
Isabella D'esposito is a New York-based playwright, composer, and lyricist. As a playwright, her works have been produced or developed at Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, ANT Fest at Ars Nova, Arts Tristate, Carnegie Mellon University, Horizon Theater, Red Theater Purchase, and SUNY Stony Brook's International Theatre Festival. She has been an apprentice with New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater, a resident at the Stony Brook International Theater Festival, and a 2016 TEDxBroadway Young Professional. She received her MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University where she was the recipient of the Jean and Samuel Elgart Legacy Fellowship. She holds a BA in Playwriting and Screenwriting from Purchase College.
Christina Quintana is a New York-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. Plays and musicals include: The Great Lonely Roamer & The Night That Changed Everything (forthcoming NYU Voices Festival), Evensong (Astoria Performing Arts Center), GUMBO (book & lyrics), with music by Brett Macias (Yale Institute for Music Theatre), Enter Your Sleep (Baby Crow Productions), Scissoring (Finalist Alliance/ Kendeda), and Blank Canvas ("Best Short" Downtown Urban Theatre Festival). Christina is the recipient of fellowships from Van Lier New Voices at The Lark, CubaOne, Queer/Art, and Lambda Literary, and commissions from the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project, Peppercorn Theatre, and Actor's Express. She is a proud member of EST's Obie-winning cohort of playwrights, Youngblood, and holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts. For more, visit cquintana.com.
Sarah B. Mantell is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama's playwriting program. Her plays include Everything that Never Happened (Carlotta Festival, runner-up for the Leah Ryan FEWW); Tiny (Langston Hughes Festival, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Play By Play); Mrs. Galveston (Yale Cabaret); Rochambeau (PlayPenn, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Heideman finalist); Fight Call; and Southbound, Soon as We Can (New Play Labs). Sarah has received residencies with Wildacres and SPACE on Ryder Farm. She holds a BFA in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and is a proud alum of Philadelphia's The Foundry.
Celine Song is a member of The Public Theater's 2016-2017 Emerging Writers Group and a member of Ars Nova's 2014-2015 Play Group. Her play Endlings was a part of the Kilroys list 2017, and Tom & Eliza was a semifinalist for the American Playwriting Foundation's 2016 Relentless Award. She has been awarded residencies and fellowships from: the Millay Colony for the arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. Celine was an IATI Theater 2015 Cimientos Playwright and a 2014 & 2016 Great Plains Theatre Conference Playlab Playwright. Her plays include The Feast (MAP Theater in Seattle, New Court Theatre in LA, Shelterbelt Theatre in Omaha, Red Theater Chicago), Family (Signature Theater, Potomac Theater), Tom & Eliza (Ars Nova, JACK), and Endlings (Public). She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University.
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, new 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), 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.