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Dorset Theatre Festival Announces Commissioning & Fellowship Program and Welcomes Resident Artist Jade King Carroll

The Commissioning and Fellowship Program has welcomed its first two Fellows, playwrights Jihan Crowther and Josh Wilder.

Dorset Theatre Festival has announced the launch of its new Commissioning and Fellowship Program, welcoming returning director Jade King Carroll as Resident Artist, who will design and oversee this program in collaboration with Artistic Director Dina Janis. Carroll will also work with Janis in producing the Festival's new StageFree Audio Plays.

The Commissioning and Fellowship Program has welcomed its first two Fellows, playwrights Jihan Crowther and Josh Wilder, who join the Festival's Commissioned Playwrights, Cusi Cram and Sarah Gancher, in the launch of this innovative program. The Festival is excited to announce two additional commissions by renowned playwrights Chisa Hutchinson and Theresa Rebeck, the first of Dorset's StageFree Audio Plays, scheduled for later this year.

"We believe in centering artists as we move forward now, determined to help build the American theatre that will come next - newly imagined and re-invigorated through the challenges we currently face. I consider Jade one of the most important and visionary thinkers of our time, and it is an honor to have her join me now as Resident Artist helping to lead the Festival forward," said Dina Janis, Artistic Director.

Jade King Carroll has worked as a director at the Festival over the past 3 years. Her interpretations of classical and new work have been seen at leading theatre institutions across the country including New York Theatre Workshop, Audible, McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Two River Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute, Playmakers Rep, Portland Stage, City Theatre, Perseverance Theater, Miami New Drama, Marin Theatre, Atlantic Theater, and Playwrights Realm, as well as serving as Associate Director for A Streetcar Named Desire and The Gin Game on Broadway. Jade has taught, guest lectured and directed extensively, including at Julliard, Princeton, and NYU. Past awards and fellowships include: TCG New Generations Future Leader, New York Theatre Workshop, Van Lier, Second Stage Theatre, Women's Project, McCarter Theatre, SUNY 40 under 40, Gates Millennium Scholar, and the Paul Green Award from The National Theatre Conference and The Estate of August Wilson.

"This fellowship is not about the product of a single play, but the support of an entire artist. As the Festival plans for the future in this uncertain time, the one certainty is that theatre starts in the artist's mind, so we are investing in just that," said Jade King Carroll, Resident Artist.

Dorset's newly commissioned artists and the first class of Fellows will have the revolutionary opportunity to design their own goal-oriented programs of development. One objective of the program, according to Carroll, is to develop long-lasting relationships that benefit the playwrights, the Festival, and the American theatre at large.

"This [fellowship] gives me the space to think freely and wildly about my ideas and, also, experiment in whatever way serves the play. It's a rare and incredibly exciting opportunity. What a time to be embarking on this kind of adventure just as theater is remaking itself once again," said Jihan Crowther, Fellow.

Jihan Crowther's plays have been developed and produced at Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Georges, New York Theatre Workshop, and Cornerstone Theater among others. She has been a New York Theatre Workshop Emerging Artists Fellow and an Ensemble Studio Theatre Youngblood Collective member. She received two EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation commissions and is an Affiliate Artist at New Georges. Jihan is also an essayist (Jezebel, Esquire, Hello Giggles) and a TV writer currently working on the Apple series IF/THEN. Crowther previously worked on The Man in the High Castle, Daisy Jones & The Six, and Barry Jenkins' forthcoming TV adaptation of The Underground Railroad. She received her MA in Writing for Performance from University of London - Goldsmiths College.

Josh Wilder is a playwright from Philadelphia whose work has been developed, commissioned, and produced at The Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theatre of Harlem, New York Theatre Workshop, True Colors Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2015 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, PlayPenn, Company One, InterAct Theatre Company, and Yale Rep among others. Past awards include the Holland New Voices Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award, The Rosa Parks Award, and The ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. Josh is a former Jerome Fellow and the first national recipient of the Jerome Many Voices Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center. Josh received his MFA from Yale School of Drama and his BFA from Carnegie Mellon.

"These times are forcing most of us to go deep inside and write. It's also forcing some of us to figure out the future of our field. This fellowship is a fantastic attempt to accomplish both-very excited for what's ahead!" said Josh Wilder, Fellow.

Commissioned playwright Cusi Cram has begun work on her adaption of The Benefits of Being an Octopus by acclaimed Vermont novelist, Ann Braden. This young adult novel set in Vermont has gained recognition and success since its publication, including being named to the NPR Best Books of 2018, Bank Street List for Best Children's Books of 2019, and the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher List.

Cusi Cram is a playwright, screenwriter, and director, who is known for writing for/about/with community and is committed to merging local issues into theatrical forms. Cusi's plays have been produced by Rattlestick Theatre, SOLFest Latinx Theater Festival, Primary Stages, LAByrinth Theater Company, The Denver Theater Center, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Atlantic Theater, and Cornerstone Theater Company, among others. She was a long-time writer on WGBH's children's program, Arthur for which she has received three Emmy nominations. She also worked as a writer on Showtime's The Big C, starring Laura Linney.

"I am so thrilled to bring Ann Braden's deep and rich novel, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, to life in theatrical form. Anne has written a remarkable heroine in the character of Zoey, who is profoundly real but also has such deep wells of curiosity, inventiveness, and bravery. I cannot wait to bring her to life and share her remarkable humanity with audiences in Vermont and beyond," said Cusi Cram, commissioned playwright.

Playwright Sarah Gancher is also joining Dorset's cohort of commissioned artists. Gancher's writing has been seen on stages worldwide including London's National Theatre, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, Budapest's Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Steppenwolf, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, RoundHouse (DC), Seattle Rep, and Ars Nova. Recently, the online production of her play Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (directed by Jared Mezzocchi & Elizabeth Williamson with Theaterworks Hartford/Theatre Squared/The Civilians) was included in the New York Times' Top 10 Theater of 2020 list.

"It is such a joy to receive this commission, with its invitation to dream big, to name what I need to create during Covid, and to create something that will resonate with Dorset's setting and audience. I won't say what I'm going to work on just yet-but I am so excited to stretch myself as both a writer and as a musician for Dorset!" said Sarah Gancher, commissioned playwright.

Gancher's other honors include the Richard Rodgers Award, New York Stage and Film Founders' Award, The Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Award, a Toulmin Foundation commission, several Lortel, Drama Desk, and Drama League nominations, and the AR Gurney Prize. She frequently collaborates on musicals, including Hundred Days and The Lucky Ones with The Bengsons and Anne Kauffman, and Mission Drift with Heather Christian, Rachel Chavkin, and The TEAM. Her work in the realm of large-scale spectacles includes partnerships with Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. An alumna of Ars Nova Play Group, WP Lab, P73, and The Playwrights' Realm, she is a current resident at New Dramatists. She also plays jazz violin and received an MFA from NYU.

"At this challenging time it seemed urgently important to bring theatre to people everywhere and anywhere, breaking down barriers and walls, while lifting up new, fierce, and inspired work as we boldly step forward with our community into a newly imagined future," said Dina Janis, Artistic Director.

For more information, visit dorsettheatrefestival.org.


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