The Playwrights Realm to Become Full-Time Playwrights Service Organization for 2020-2021 Season
The Playwrights Realm, responding to the needs of playwrights in our current moment, announced that for the remainder of the 2019-20 season and for the upcoming 2020-21 season, it will become a full-time playwrights service organization. Although The Realm has built a reputation for its gutsy world premieres Off-Broadway, including Pulitzer Prize finalist The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and this season's Mothers by Anna Moench, as artists struggle to find professional and financial stability and community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, The Realm has taken the initiative to reimagine itself to best support them. Next season, all efforts will be rededicated to expanding what was already at the heart of the organization's mission: giving playwrights the time and resources to develop new work.
Playwrights Realm Founding Artistic Director Katherine Kovner says, "The Realm is centered around helping early-career playwrights, not only through productions, but in every way we can imagine, and I have never experienced a moment when playwrights needed that help so much. This would usually be the time we announce our next season's productions, but I've spent the last few months talking to our artists and it's become clear that's not what they need from our organization right now. So we're doubling down on being a home for playwrights: reading through open submissions as we put together a new cohort for next season, exploring how we can be a resource for the broader world of early-career playwrights, and finding new ways of supporting our Realm family artistically, financially, and even emotionally. The Playwrights Realm name is not symbolic-this is a space where playwrights come first, so in this time of crisis we are going to devote ourselves to listening to them and helping them meet their needs more than ever!"
Daria Miyeko Marinelli, part of the 2019-20 Scratchpad Playwright cohort, says, "The Playwrights Realm has asked artists what they want, and beyond asking, they have listened, even when the answer is the simple, brutal truth of 'financial support.' Home is, unsurprisingly, a place where the door's open and the lights are always on, and the soul is nourished. Without a doubt, this has been a moment of intense feeling for all of us. One thing I didn't expect, especially as an LA-based playwright, is to feel fully and utterly home, in a gorgeous warm institution called The Playwrights Realm."
Through a series of virtual town halls, surveys, and direct conversations, The Playwrights Realm has broadened their support structures for playwrights for the remainder of the 2019-20 season in a number of ways, including: offering educational support via free and open artists workshops (marketing, budgeting, submitting, producing) taught by Realm staff; emotional support via Realm O'Clock, a digital gathering space to talk and unwind, with a drink (optional!); and financial support via micro-commissions to parent-playwrights through the Play At Home program (a collaboration between a number of theaters) and relief aid to playwrights who have been impacted economically. For the latter, the Realm has surveyed all 63 playwrights who have participated in their programs, allotting at least $750 to each playwright who has expressed financial and professional need. There's also discretionary additional disaster relief funding based on needs, in keeping with The Realm's Radical Parent-Inclusion Project (including elder or family care), as well as related to housing instability, food insecurity, funeral expense, or other special circumstances. For the 2020-2021 season, funds that were earmarked for production will instead be used for playwright services, which will be structured around the needs expressed by The Realm's playwrights.
In March, as theaters around New York were closing due to COVID-19, The Realm canceled the New York premiere performances of playwright Noah Diaz's Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally. (The Realm helped launch Noah Diaz's professional career in partnership with Sol Project and Baltimore Center Stage, where Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally ran from Feb 6 to March 1 in a Realm co-production.) The Realm paid the creative team of the production in full and the actors through opening night. It will also now defer Diaz's Page One Residency-a program that provides playwrights with services including economic support, health insurance, internal readings, travel and professional development funds, theater tickets, and a desk in the Playwrights Realm offices-to the 2020-2021 season.
The Realm will maintain an engaged relationship with audiences as they refocus their efforts in service of playwrights, both through the existing development programs, as well as finding new ways to engage early-career writers who want to develop material and start their career in the theater industry. This work is made possible in part through COVID-19 relief grants from NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust and the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.