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The Finish Line Commission supports the theatre's commitment to new theatrical works,


Cygnet Theatre has announced the line up for The Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commission. The Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 playwrights include Angelica Chéri and Aurin Squire. Normally free public readings of the plays are held in person at the theatre, but due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions all artist work will be held via Zoom. The process will be shared through behind-the-scenes video content online.

Led by Associate Artistic Director Rob Lutfy, The Finish Line Commission supports the theatre's commitment to new theatrical works, written by groundbreaking local playwrights as well as nationally recognized playwrights. Rare for a national new play program, all of the plays selected each year have never before been produced.

Director Rob Lutfy states, "The two playwrights this year are not writing to fit into any safe space. They both are poets with transformative ideas. Right now, we need Aurin and Angelica more than ever because they are brave and compassionate playwrights willing to tell the truth of what they see and experience. Theatre is not meant to be comfortable, it's meant to provoke. These two plays need to be seen, heard, and produced across America. I am honored that Cygnet has some part in shepherding these two brilliant plays into being. I am equally excited for the chance to work with the directors we have brought on, Reginald Douglas and Lamar Perry. The future of American Theatre is alive and well with these artists at the helm. "

Plays awarded The Finish Line Commission will be given a week-long workshop culminating in a public reading (this year the readings will not be public), a financial reward, and an assurance that the play will have a shot at a world premier production at Cygnet.

The Finish Line Commission is made possible thanks to the contribution of long-time donors Bill and Judy Garrett. "Playwrights are masters of helping us see the world through new and different eyes. 2020 has been an extraordinary year for all of us - with a pandemic, thousands of deaths, school and social upheavals, fear and occasional acts of overwhelming generosity - and it will be refreshing to view it all through the perceptive eyes of some of our most observant playwrights.", explained Judy Garrett.

The Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commission provides:

Financial support to the playwright, actors, director, & dramaturg.

Actors, a director and a dramaturg.

Finishing Commission grant for a mid-career playwright.

A Finish Line Commission grant for a local playwright and right of first refusal.

Not included for 2020-2021 due to pandemic restrictions:

Rehearsal space.

Free public readings of all plays.

A series of public forums around the festival.

Housing, roundtrip travel and a vehicle for the week-long stay.

Two designers of the playwright's choosing to create a "dream design."



By Angelica Chéri

Workshop held November 2020

Directed by Reginald Douglas (Associate Artistic Director at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC)

Sienna, a forensic psychologist in the making, gets more than she bargained for when a romantic liaison turns into a murder investigation. But when the suspected "victim" sits down with Sienna for tea, our sleuth's grip on reality begins to deteriorate. The Wiring and The Switches was conceived in the Geffen Writers Group at The Geffen Playhouse in LA.

About the Playwright:

Angelica Chéri is a playwright, musical theatre bookwriter/lyricist, screenwriter and poet. The plays of her "Prophet's Cycle Trilogy" include The Seeds of Abraham (Signature Theatre, Billie Holiday Theatre, mentored by Lynn Nottage), The Sting of White Roses (North Carolina Black Repertory Company, National Black Theatre Festival) and Crowndation; I Will Not Lie to David (National Black Theatre-I AM SOUL Residency). Other plays include Berta, Berta ( World Premiere at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival), The Wiring & the Switches (developed at The Geffen Playhouse), Learn to Speak Doll (Peppercorn Theatre commission) Slow Gin Fits (Fire This Time Festival) and The Yin & The Yang (Columbia University). She and collaborator Ross Baum received the Richard Rodgers Award for their musical Gun & Powder (World Premiere at Signature Theatre, directed by Robert O'Hara), which has been developed at Theatre Latté Da, Goodspeed Musicals, The Signature Theatre and selected for the 2018 NAMT Festival of New Musicals.

Angelica was one of six writers chosen for the inaugural Geffen Playhouse Writers Room. She was the Master Playwright in the Frank Silvera Writer's Workshop Inaugural 3in3 Playwright Festival, and has written for the Obie-Award-Winning 48 Hours in Harlem Festival and the Fire This Time Festival. Angelica received her BA in Theatre from UCLA, MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU.


by Aurin Squire

Workshop held January 2021

Directed by Lamar Perry (Artistic Associate, The Old Globe)

When a college student is implicated in a crime spree, his attempt to seek justice sets off a chain reaction that ripples across the entire town. What is real and what is not gets called into question in this timely play that forces us to ask, "Who are we to ourselves and to each other?"

About the Playwright:

Aurin Squire is an award-winning playwright, reporter, and multimedia artist. He is a two-time recipient of the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center and has received residencies at The Royal Court Theatre in London, Ars Nova, Lincoln Center Lab, National Black Theatre, the Dramatists Guild of America, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange.

In the 2018-2019 season, Squire had six productions in Chicago, North Carolina, Seattle, Dallas, and Miami. including world premieres of "Fire Season" and "Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy" (which he co-authored with documentary filmmaker Billy Corben). He won the 2017 Helen Merrill Prize for Emerging Playwrights and the Emerald Prize from Seattle Public Theatre for his new drama. His political satire "Obama-ology" was workshopped at the Juilliard New Play Festival before becoming a sold-out hit at Finborough Theatre in London. "Obama-ology" also received a school production at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2015 and was published by Oberon Books. In 2016 he returned to Finborough with his interracial relationship drama "Don't Smoke in Bed." His dark comedy "To Whom It May Concern" won New York LGBT theatre awards for best play, best playwright, and best actor before being optioned and having an off-broadway to critical acclaim at the ArcLight Theatre and was published by Original Works Publishing. Squire's drama "Freefallling" was first produced at Barrington Stages before going on to win first prize at InspiraTO Theatre's International Play Festival, and receive the Fiat Lux Prize from New York's Catholic Church. His gay rights drama "Article 119-1" was produced throughout Germany, Canada, Italy, and in the United States. In 2016 his dark futuristic comedy "Zoohouse" was workshopped at the National Black Theatre as a part of his 'I Am Soul' fellowship while "The Gospel According to F#ggots" was workshopped at Brooklyn Arts Exchange.

As an independent reporter he has written for The Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, ESPN, Talking Points Memo, FUSION, and many other publications around the country. As a multimedia artist, Squire wrote Dreams of Freedom, the multimedia installation video about Jewish immigrants in the 20th century for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dreams won three national museum awards and is in the permanent exhibit at NMAJH.

In TV, Squire has been a writer for the CBS political satire "BrainDead," and the NBC family drama "This is Us." He is a producer/writer for the CBS show "The Good Fight" as well as the supernatural drama "Evil."

In his spare time, he's a theatre podcast co-host of Maxamoo, writes reviews of new plays, meditates, studies religion. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, New School University, and Northwestern University

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