2016 MFA Playwrights' Workshop to Develop Eight New Works at the Kennedy Center

By: Jul. 22, 2016

National New Play Network, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, is pleased to co-present the 11th annual MFA Playwright's Workshop (MFAPW) in association with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and Stanford University's National Center for New Plays.

The Kennedy Center will host more than 50 playwrights, directors, and dramaturgs from July 24-31, 2016 as part of the 11th annual week-long MFA Playwrights' Workshop featuring new works by MFA students from New York University-Tisch School of the Arts, the University of Iowa, Boston University, Indiana University, Ohio University, and Catholic University.

A committee of artistic leaders from NNPN Core Member Theaters selected six plays out of 58 nominated playwrights from across the nation. The selected works include plays by Rachel Bykowski, Tearrance Chisholm, Chloé Hung, Sam Lahne, Mauricio Miranda, and Samantha Noble. The Workshop will also feature an NNPN alumni workshop of a new work by Amy Witting, and Atlanta's ALLIANCE THEATRE's Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Prize-winner Jiréh Breon Holder.

This annual program, now in its eleventh year, pairs gifted early-career playwrights with directors from NNPN Core and Associate Member Theaters across the country, dramaturgs from a wider circle of theaters around North America, and an Acting Company from the Washington, D.C. community. The Workshop will also feature the fifth annual New Play Dramaturgy Intensive, led by Mark Bly, and a Directing Intensive focusing on developing new work, led by Mark Routhier. Both Mr. Bly and Mr. Routhier serve as Ambassadors at Large for the Network.

Additionally, the second class of National Directors Fellowship recipients will be in residence for a portion of the week to start building professional relationships with representatives from NNPN Member Theaters and the Washington, D.C. theater community. This program is a partnership of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, National New Play Network, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The 2016 National Directing Fellows are: Jessica Holt of Atlanta, Laley Lippard of Chicago, Jeff Liu of Los Angeles, Madeline Sayet of Connecticut, and M. Graham Smith of San Francisco.


Tight End
By Rachel Bykowski, Ohio University
Directed by Tina Parker, Kitchen Dog Theater* (Dallas, TX)
Dramaturgy by Adrien-Alice Hansel, Studio Theatre (Washington, DC)
Tight End is the story of Ashley "Ash" Miller: a young woman in high school who is determined to join the football team. Ashley is throttled head first into a world dominated by rape culture where she must sacrifice her body to become one of guys on the football team.

From Kings
By Tearrance Chisholm, Catholic University
Directed by Mark Routhier, NNPN Ambassador at Large
Dramaturgy by Otis Ramsey Zoe, Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
Lionel R. Hilderbrandt returns to the South Side of Chicago with a plan to marry Lacretia Bowser; he hopes to combine the power and prestige of their family names and take his rightful place as king of Chicago's black high society. But the once great kingdom has lost its former glory. Set in the 1960s, this play is a loose retelling of Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece. It explores the dichotomy of the African American community, class relations, and what happens when the plans laid before us are not necessarily our own.

ALLIANCE THEATRE's Kendeda Prize Recipient
Too Heavy for Your Pocket
By Jiréh Breon Holder
Directed by LA Williams (New York, NY)
Dramaturgy by Celise Kalke, ALLIANCE THEATRE (Atlanta, GA)
Set during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, two couples contemplate justice, love, and responsibility in rural Tennessee. When one of them becomes a Freedom Rider and joins the fight against racism, the rest must cope with his absence as his obligations as a husband and friend go neglected.

Issei, He Say (or the Myth of the First)
By Chloé Hung, New York University-Tisch School of the Arts
Directed by Mei Ann Teo, The Wandering Fools
Dramaturg by Jenna Rodgers, Chromatic Theatre (Calgary, Alberta)
Set in 1969, in a predominantly white suburb of Toronto, Canada, Issei, He Say explores the lives of the Chu family, a new Chinese immigrant family, as they move in next door to a Mr. Yamamoto, a Japanese Canadian man. As Mr. Yamamoto gets closer to each member of the Chu family, he helps them navigate the waters of assimilation while also forcing them to deal with their own prejudices.

By Sam Lahne, University of Iowa
Directed by Jim Petosa, New Repertory Theatre* (Watertown, MA)
Dramaturgy by Mark Bly, the Acting Company (New York, NY)
Right is a darkly comedic drama that investigates nationality, loss of homeland, birthright, appropriation, self-determination by weaving together the Israeli/Palestinian and American Colonial/American Indian conflicts.

By Mauricio Miranda, Indiana University
Directed by Cynthia Levin, Unicorn Theatre* (Kansas City, MO)
Dramaturgy by Kelly Miller, the Kilroys (NNPN Ambassador at Large)
This is the story of a South American woman, who immigrates to Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, escaping from the terror and the savage acts of the Shining Path movement in Peru's Sierra back in the early 90's. Now, twenty years later, she has become a recluse, and her nineteen-year-old daughter Gabi, is trying to come to terms with her ambivalent identity in this new country she occupies.

By Samantha Noble, Boston University
Directed by Gavin Witt, CENTERSTAGE* (Baltimore, MD)
Dramaturgy by Kristen Leahey, Seattle Repertory Theatre (WA)
The play juxtaposes the story of the 1845 Franklin Expedition of the Northwest Passage with that of a passionate young researcher determined to find the final resting place of its ships. On the last of her grant money, she faces her own struggle on the ice to track down the Erebus before she loses her chance forever. The members of her crew are rapidly losing faith, and her only female companion, a young musician, seems to be a money-grubbing detriment. But each woman might hold the key the other needs to discover the truth.

MFAPW Alumni Project
The House on the Hill
by Amy Witting, MFAPW 2014, Hunter College
Directed by Bridget O'Leary, New Repertory Theatre* (Watertown, MA)
Dramaturgy by Kirsten Bowen, Woolly Mammoth Theatre* (Washington, DC)
Cousins Alex and Frankie haven't spoken in ten years since a single devastating moment shattered their lives and families. After a decade of trauma, can a new birth help them heal at last?

*NNPN Member Theater

ABOUT RACHEL BYKOWSKI - Rachel Bykowski is a Chicago native who writes plays featuring female characters that raise awareness to social issues. Playwriting credits include her full lengths: Original Recipe workshop production by DePaul University, Got to Kill Bitch staged reading by c*ckand Bull Theatre, and Glory vs. The Wolves staged reading by 20% Theatre Company and Women and Children First Bookstore. Rachel's ten minute plays have been produced with various companies around Chicago including 20% Theatre Company, Fury Theatre, and Commedia Beauregard. Rachel received her BFA from the Theatre School of DePaul University and is currently a MFA Playwriting candidate at Ohio University. Rachel is a proud company member and Literary Manager for 20% Theatre Chicago.

ABOUT TEARRANCE ARVELLE CHISHOLM - Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm is a playwright. That title is an indelible part of his character. Theatre is the filter through which he sees and interprets the world. As a playwright, Tearrance is interested in exploring the many facets of the African American experience. He feels that race is double edged sword, equipped with its advantages and shortcomings. It is the exploration of this theme that permeates all of his work. His works include Br'er Cotton (The Catholic University of America; Washington DC), Bhavi the Avenger (Convergence Theatre; Washington DC), Hooded or Being Black for Dummies (Bay Area Playwrights Festival; San Francisco), In Sweet Remembrance (Endstation Theatre Company & Sweet Briar College), and A Month of Sundays (Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival; NYC). He has developed new works with Theatre J (Washington DC), Theatre Alliance (Washington DC), Endstation Theatre Company (Lynchburg, VA), The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and has held residencies at The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Virginia Center for Creative Arts and The Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (Playwright Observer). He has also been published in interJACtions: 75 Monologues by some of America's Finest Playwrights and Arcadia Magazine. Tearrance received his MFA in Playwriting from The Catholic University of America in May 2016.

ABOUT JIRÉH BREON HOLDER - Jiréh Breon Holder is currently the Playwriting Fellow of the Department of Theater and Creative Writing at Emory Universtiy. He is an Atlanta area playwright, director, and dramaturg. His sharp and often political plays frequently include wild visual metaphors and address the magic of everyday life in the South. In 2016, he received his MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama and co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, Iowa. From 2012-13, he served as the Kenny Leon Fellow at the Tony Award-winning ALLIANCE THEATRE. He graduated cum laude from Morehouse College (B.A. Theatre) where he served as the artistic director of Spelman College Playwrights' Workshop and directed several productions. His plays have received productions at the ALLIANCE THEATRE, the Yale School of Drama and Yale Cabaret. He has also received readings at the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and the Old Globe Theatre. As a theater artist with a strong political impulse, many of his plays and projects address the prison industrial complex, human rights, and agricultural/environmental sustainability. He is a firm believer that art changes lives, and each project he is involved with seeks to touch people one audience at a time.

ABOUT CHLOÉ HUNG - Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Chloé Hung developed a love for the arts through writing, performing, and directing. Her skills in writing took her from winning high school writing competitions to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where she has completed her MFA degree in Dramatic writing, studying playwriting, screenwriting, and TV writing. As a Chinese-Canadian, "Otherness" has been a great topic of interest. Her play Issei, He Say (or the Myth of the First), about Chinese immigrants moving to Canada in the late 1960s was selected for NYU's Festival of New Works. Her screenplay Untapped, set in Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet's violent coup, was a finalist in the screenwriting category of the Fusion Film Festival. A Glimpse of Sun, a screenplay about a Nigerian refugee who becomes the victim of a human trafficking scheme, was selected for the Black List's Los Angeles mini-lab. Her play All Our Yesterdays, about the missing Chibok school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, which she directed, premiered at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival to rave reviews and was awarded Patron's Pick. The play received recognition for Outstanding production, with Chloé receiving Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Direction. It was, then, selected for the prestigious Next Stage Theatre Festival in January 2016. All Our Yesterdays is produced by AnOther Theatre Company, of which Chloé is the Artistic Director. In addition to directing All Our Yesterdays, Chloé directed the King's Theatrical Society's flagship production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off to a sold out run and was named the year's Best Show. Her short film iPerceive was awarded Best Conceptual Film at the Toronto Student Film Festival. Outside of writing and directing, Chloé spend a year abroad in South Korea teaching English immersion at the kindergarten and lower primary level. This experience shaped the way she views the importance of education, the critical of teachers, and the necessity of programs for children with special needs.

ABOUT SAM LAHNE - Sam Lahne's plays have been produced or developed by Endstation Theatre Company, Studio TrimTab, Forum Theatre DC, Rorschach Theater, The Amoralists, Red Bull Theatre, and the Experimental Theatre of Vassar College. Sam has been a DC Source Festival finalist, a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference and the Princess Grace Award, Playwright-in-Residence at Endstation Theatre Company/BRSTF, and a winner of the Red Bull Theater Short Play Competition. He received his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Iowa in May 2016.

ABOUT MAURICIO MIRANDA - Mauricio was born in Peru in 1987, where he grew up attending a Catholic Jesuit school and being prepared for the ministry. In his free time, he enjoyed playing competitive Tennis around the country. During his teens, he was allowed to tour South America competing in U-18 Tennis Tournaments in the Circuit. In 2005, Mauricio was offered a full tennis scholarship to the United States. He managed to learn English as fast as he could, and moved here to pursue a career in Theatre Studies. At Freed-Hardeman University, he realized his passion was for writing. Even though English was his second language, Mauricio received encouragement from his teachers to keep on writing for the stage. Soon after graduation, Mauricio made the move to New York City and became involved with Ground Up Productions (an emerging theatre company founded in 2005) as an actor and a Props Master. Also, he worked as an actor and assistant at Adam Roebuck's Alpha NYC Company, all while keeping a day job as an actor/salesman for QVC retail products. In 2013, Mauricio was accepted into Indiana University's MFA Playwriting Program, from which he graduated in May 2016. He plans to move to Chicago, and once there, start working as a playwright and freelance director while breaking the ground, making the connections, and putting in the foundations to eventually form a theatre company. Mauricio's plays have been developed and performed in dark shady basements around New York City, as well as at Freed-Hardeman University, the Men of Guidance Theatre Collage, the South Eastern Theatre Conference (SETC), the FHU No Doze Theatre Competition, and Indiana University.

ABOUT SAMANTHA NOBLE - Samantha Noble is a Boston-based playwright and theatre artist. She attendEd Smith College, where she was awarded the Denis Johnston Playwriting Prize. While at Smith, she acted as a Research Fellow in the joint faculty and student Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute's project titled "Evil." For her year-long research project, she developed and staged her play The Strength of Stones, an examination of interpersonal evil. In 2013, she partnered with director Kathryn Stewart to create a Seattle-based theatre project, The Tenacity Theatre Collective. Working with the Collective, she premiered her original work An Actress vs. William Shakespeare as part of Seattle's Arts Crush Festival. The play was also taken to the East Coast where it was performed as part of the Hamilton & Wehnam Art Grows Here Festival. She worked with New Century Theatre in all aspects of theatrical production from 2008-2011. She has worked as a dramaturge developing new works at The Huntington Theatre and Boston Playwright's Theatre. Noble is currently an MFA cohort member at Boston University's playwriting program, where she is developing a play for the 2016-2017 season. At BU, she contributes to the annual Playground 24-hour play festival and teaches creative writing.

ABOUT AMY E. WITTING - Amy E. Witting finally admits she is from New Jersey although now resides in Sunnyside, New York. Beyond owning three crockpots, she is a semi-retired actor, producer, teaching artist, and playwright. Some of her plays include The House On The Hill (Atlantic Theater Commission, Abingdon Theatre New Play Reading Series, 2016 Semi-finalist for the O'Neil Playwrights Conference), There's Never A Gavin: The True Story of a Disco Roller Skater (Atlantic Theater Amplified Reading Series, nominated 2016 Weissberger Award, Finalist The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep 2016 ), The Midnight Ride of Sean & Lucy (Roundabout Underground Reading Series, Finalist SOURCE Festival), A BAD NIGHT (2015 Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship), Day 392 (Kennedy Center ACTF/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop, Honorable Mention Kilroy's List), Victor (Cabrini Rep, winner 2013 Thespis Festival), 36 Hours (Frigid Festival), FALLING (NY International Fringe Festival), G.I. Joe Jared (Edinburg Festival Fringe and 59E59) and Create Me Pegasus (Finalist, The Sam French Festival). She was a 2015 finalist for the Leah Ryan FEWW award and nominated for the 2014-2015 Susan Smith Blackburn prize. She received an inaugural 2015 LAUNCH Commission from Atlantic Theater Company. Her plays have been developed at Tofte Lake Center, The Lark Play Development Center, The Kennedy Center, NNPN, and Space on Ryder Farm. As a producer she has curated multiple festivals including PlayFUN! (aWe Creative Group) and most recently FÊTE in association with Abingdon Theatre. She received her MFA at Hunter College and is a member of the 2016 Pipeline Theatre Playlab, Mission to (dit)MARS Propulsion Lab, and The Dramatists Guild. Amy is also an affiliated artist with NNPN and can be reached on the New Play Exchange.

ABOUT EDUCATION AT THE KENNEDY CENTER - The Kennedy Center retains its commitment as the nation's cultural center to educating and enlightening children and adults in Washington and around the country. The Center's national education programs include: Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, which works with 14 municipalities and their school districts around the country to develop a long-range strategic plan for arts education; ARTSEDGE, a website that offers standards-based materials for use in and out of the classroom; and Partners in Education, which forges relationships between an arts organization and its neighboring school systems to build effective arts education programs for teachers and teaching artists. In addition, the Center offers multiple skill development programs for young artists and professionals both locally and nationally, including the National Symphony Orchestra's Youth Fellowship Program, Summer Music Institute, and High School Competition; Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Opera Institute at American University, and Kids Create Opera Partnership; the biennial New Visions/ New Voices forum for development of new plays for young people; Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell; BetTy Carter's Jazz Ahead; VSA's Playwright Discovery Program, Young Soloists, and Visual Arts Programs; arts administration internships; and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which directly impacts thousands of university and college theater students and faculty.

ABOUT THE Michael Kanin PLAYWRITING AWARDS - The Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards program of the Kennedy Center American College Theater festival is sponsored by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the National Committee for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund, and the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. Distinguished Alumni of the program include Jeff Augustin, Lee Blessing, Kirsten Greenidge, Katori Hall, Joshua Harmon, Ike Holter, Andrew Hinderaker, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Nathan Louis Jackson, Laura Jacqmin, Hansol Jung, Lila Rose Kaplan, Jim Leonard Jr., Martyna Majok, Molly Smith Metzler, Ronan Noone, Marco Ramirez, Sarah Ruhl, Jen Silverman, Phoef Sutton, Paula Vogel, Matt Williams, and Lauren Yee.

ABOUT NATIONAL NEW PLAY NETWORK - National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country's alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 200 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization's member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions - have helped cement the Network's position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, The New Play Exchange is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it. NNPN's 30 Core and more than 75 Associate Members - along with the more than 250 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of Audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater.


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