MTC Announces 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Commissions

by Jacob Coakley

Manhattan Theatre Club has named the six commissioned writers for the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative. Writers April de Angelis, Nick Jones, Heidi Schreck, Melissa Ross, Sarah Treem and Bess Wohl are each commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club to develop plays that address “themes of math, science, and technology and that depict scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as major characters,” with an aim to bridge the divide between the “two cultures,” science and the arts. The Sloan Foundation has also provided production support for MTC’s current production of An Enemy of the People, adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz as part of an earlier Sloan commission.



Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director), Barry Grove (Executive Producer), and Mandy Greenfield (Artistic Producer) announce the 2012 recipients of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions for Manhattan Theatre Club.  This year’s six commissioned writers are April de Angelis (Jumpy), Nick Jones (The Coward), Heidi Schreck (Creature), Melissa Ross (Thinner Than Water), Sarah Treem (A Feminine Ending), and Bess Wohl (Barcelona).

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided a grant to Manhattan Theatre Club to support the development of plays that address themes of math, science, and technology and that depict scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as major characters.  The aim is to bridge the divide between the “two cultures,” science and the arts.

In addition to providing a grant for commissioning engaging plays with science and technology themes and characters, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided production support for MTC’s production of Sloan commissioned writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People directed by Tony Award winner Doug Hughes. The production opened Thursday, September 27 to critical acclaim at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street). The production stars four-time Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines as ‘Dr. Thomas Stockmann’ and Emmy Award winner Richard Thomas as ‘Mayor Peter Stockmann.’

“This round of Sloan commissions has gone to an outstanding group of playwrights who are taking on topics that are full of promise. We look forward with great anticipation to what the yield will be,” said MTC’s Director of Artistic Development Jerry Patch. “And we’re especially grateful to the Sloan Foundation for its support of those commissions and our production of An Enemy of the People.”


“We are delighted to join with the Manhattan Theatre Club in commissioning original work from these six gifted playwrights as they tackle science and technology themes and characters,” said Doron Weber, Sloan’s Vice President of Programs. “Not only are an increasing number of the best and brightest contemporary playwrights willing to explore this rich, underexplored terrain, but this year we are especially proud to support MTC’s Broadway production of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play about a man of science in conflict with a willfully blind and hypocritical society, An Enemy of the People.”


“This is a banner year for MTC’s partnership with the Sloan Foundation. We are thrilled to have Sloan production support for An Enemy of the People,” said Annie MacRae, MTC’s Sloan Project Manager and Literary Manager. “adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz who has also written an MTC/ Sloan commission play.”


MTC first collaborated with the Sloan Foundation in 2000 with the production of David Auburn’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof. MTC's partnership with the Sloan Foundation has expanded to include multiple annual commissions for emerging, mid-level, and established writers as well as a production grant to stage Sloan-related works. In addition to Proof, Sloan supported MTC’s production of Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy in 2003.


Since partnering with the Sloan Foundation, MTC has commissioned a total of 40 writers: Stephen Belber, Glen Berger, Lisa D’Amour, Charles Evered, Melissa James Gibson, Daniel Goldfarb, Rinne Groff, Sam Hunter, Ron Hutchinson, Lucy Kirkwood, Bryony Lavery, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Kenneth Lin, Craig Lucas, Michael Mitnick, Peter Morris, Hannah Moscovitch,  Itamar Moses, Rona Munro, Brett Neveu, Nick Payne, Hannie Rayson, Mark Schultz, Eric Simonson, Dava Sobel, Simon Stephens, Shelagh Stephenson, Catherine Trieschmann, John Walch, Anne Washburn, Jason Wells, Michael West, Beau Willimon, and Anna Ziegler.



Five of British writer APRIL DE ANGELIS’ plays have been staged at London’s prestigious Royal Court Theatre in the last decade. They include Hush (1992), Havana (2004), Wild East (2005), Catch (2006), and Hungover (2010). In 2010, her play Calais was staged at Paines Plough. In 2011, her play A Gloriously Mucky Business was staged at the Lyric Hammersmith. In 2003, De Angelis’ play A Laughing Matter was produced at the National Theatre’s Lyttleton. De Angelis has written extensively for television and radio in the UK, winning prizes for her radio plays The Outlander and Visitants. De Angelis is currently under commission to Plymouth Theatre Royal and her newest play Jumpy transferred to the West End after a successful run at the Royal Court in October. Last summer, Playhouse Creatures was revived at the Chichester Festival.


NICK JONES was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. Plays produced include: The Coward (Lincoln Center/LCT3; four Lortel Nominations, including Best Play), Jollyship the Whiz-Bang (Ars Nova, The Public), The Wundelsteipen (The Flea), Straight up Vampire, The Sporting Life, and The Nosemaker's Apprentice (with Rachel Shukert). His puppet horror musical Homunculus is in development with Center Theater Group (music by Dave Malloy, directed by Sam Gold) and Grizzly Adams, a rock musical performed by bears, with the Huntington (music by Corn Mo, directed by Peter Dubois). He also holds commissions from the Old Globe and Lincoln Center. The Coward is being developed into a film with Big Beach Films/American Work. He is currently a staff writer on “Orange is the New Black” for Lionsgate/Netflix. His play Trevor is being produced by Circle X Theater in Los Angeles this season. He attended Bard College for Literature and Juilliard for playwriting, where he was a two-time winner of the Lecompte de Nuoy Award.


MELISSA ROSS’ plays include Crazy Little Thing, For Dear Life, Thinner Than Water, A Life Extra Ordinary, Do Something Pretty, and You are Here. Thinner Than Water was produced by LAByrinth Theater Company at the Cherry Pit Theatre in the winter of 2010 and will be published by Smith and Kraus in New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2011. Melissa has received readings and workshops at the Cherry Lane Theatre, the Juilliard School, LAByrinth Theater Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and South Coast Repertory, where she is currently commissioned. Ross is a graduate of Bennington College, was a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School, a two-time recipient of the Le Comte Du Nuoy Award, and a proud member of LAByrinth Theater Company.


HEIDI SHRECK’s plays include There Are No More Big Secrets, produced by Rattlestick in 2010 (Time Out New York and New York Magazine Critic’s pick); and Creature, presented Off-Broadway in 2009 by New Georges and Page 73. Her work has also been developed by Soho Rep, Playwrights Horizons, MTC, Teatro de Facto, The Civilians, Printer's Devil Theatre, and National Public Radio. Other support includes the 2009 Page 73 Playwriting fellowship, the 2012 Sundance UCross Residency and a commission from True Love Productions. Publications include Samuel French, The New York Theatre Review, The Manifesto Series, edited by Erik Ehn, and Rain City Press. Shrek is also an actor whose work has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, 13P, The Roundabout, Women's Project, Williamstown, Clubbed Thumb, The Foundry, Long Wharf, Two-Headed Calf, CTG, Berkeley Repertory Theater and more. She has received two OBIE awards (for Drum of the Waves of Horikawa with Two-Headed Calf and Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation), a Drama Desk for best ensemble, and the Theatre World Award.


SARAH TREEM’s A Feminine Ending premiered at Playwrights Horizons and went on to productions at South Coast Repertory and Portland Center Stage, among others. Her play The How and the Why premiered at the McCarter Theater starring Mercedes Ruehl (with Emily Mann directing) and went on to productions at Interact Theatre and Trinity Repertory among others. Treem’s other plays include Orphan Island (Sundance Theater Lab) and Human Voices (New York Stage and Film). Her newest play Useless Bay was also developed at the Sundance Theater Lab. She has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons and South Coast Repertory and developed work at the Ojai Playwrights Festival, the Screenwriters Colony, Hedgebrook and Yaddo. In addition to her theater career, Treem wrote and produced all three seasons of the acclaimed HBO series “In Treatment,” for which she won a WGA award and was nominated for a Humanitas award. She was also a writer/producer for the HBO series How To Make It In America. Treem is presently writing and producing the first season of David Fincher’s “House of Cards” for Netflix, starring Kevin Spacey. She has taught playwriting at Yale University, where she earned her B.A. and M.F.A.


BESS WOHL’s plays have been produced or developed at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Contemporary American Theater Festival, The Cape Cod Theatre Project, People’s Light and Theatre, The Pittsburgh Public Theater, The Northlight Theatre, TheatreWorks New Works Festival, The Geffen Playhouse, Ojai Playwright's Conference, and The Pioneer Theatre. She is currently at work on Pretty Filthy, an original musical, in collaboration with the composer/lyricist Michael Friedman and The Civilians.  She is also writing a screenplay adaptation of the bestselling novel The Luxe for Paramount Pictures and an original television pilot for USA. Her screenplay adaptation of her play In was included on Hollywood's Black List of best scripts, and she has developed original television pilots for Fox and HBO. Her work has been supported by a MacDowell Fellowship, PlayPenn, the Sewanee Writer's Conference, and she is a member of the Ars Nova Play Group. She has been the recipient of new play commissions from The Center Theatre Group and The Pioneer Theatre.  She is a graduate of Harvard and earned her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.



Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, MTC has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past three decades, MTC productions have earned a total of 18 Tony Awards and six Pulitzer Prizes, an accomplishment unparalleled by a New York theatrical institution. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and an Off-Broadway theatre at New York City Center – Stage I (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include Good People; The Whipping Man; Time Stands Still; The Royal Family; Ruined; The American Plan; Come Back, Little Sheba; Blackbird; Translations; Shining City; Rabbit Hole; Doubt; Proof; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife; Love! Valour! Compassion!; A Small Family Business; Sylvia; Putting It Together; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Crimes of the Heart; and Ain’t Misbehavin.’



The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a New York-based non-profit philanthropy founded in 1934, also partners with the Ensemble Studio Theatre and Playwrights Horizons.  Sloan provides the Ensemble Studio Theatre with a grant to support new play commissions, readings, workshops and productions as well as regional theater productions of plays that EST has commissioned and/or produced.  In 2011, the EST/Sloan mainstage production was Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, which has since been remounted several times and is being turned into a screenplay.  Also in 2011, Playwrights Horizons opened Completeness by Itamar Moses, a play originally commissioned by the MTC/Sloan project. The Foundation also supports LA Theatre Works with a grant to broadcast full-length plays commissioned by partner theaters on National Public Radio as part of its monthly Relativity science series.


In addition to its theatrical partnerships, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology supports the use of books, radio, public television, commercial television and film, the internet and new media to reach a wide non-specialist audience.   The Foundation regularly awards prizes at six leading film schools—American Film Institute; UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama; Columbia University Film Department; NYU Tisch School of the Arts and USC School of Cinema and Television.  Sloan also supports the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Film Institute and Film Independent to develop screenplays through to production.  Through its film festival partners, Sloan has given awards to Another Earth by Brit Marling and Mike Cahill, Agora by Alejandro Amenabar and Obselidia by Diane Bell as well as to films by such acclaimed directors as Werner Herzog, Darren Aronofsky, Michael Apted, Bill Condon and Julian Schnabel.  Sloan is also a longtime supporter of public radio shows Science Friday and Radiolab, of public television shows NOVA and the American Experience, of the Philip Glass opera Kepler and of the World Science Festival in New York City. For more information, please visit