Stage Left Announces 2013 Downstage Left Playwright Residencies

by Jacob Coakley

 

Stage Left will work with Laura Schellhardt and Meridith Friedman
Stage Left will work with Laura Schellhardt and Meridith Friedman

Chicago’s Stage Left Theatre has announced their Downstage Left Residency recipients for 2013-2014. The residency will allow playwrights to work with a Stage Left director and members of the literary team to take a project from the conceptual stage to a production-ready script. From the 100 applications submitted, the two residencies were awarded to Laura Schellhardt for The Comparables and Meridith Friedman for The Firestorm.

Stage Left Theatre announces Downstage Left Residency recipients

Chicago, August 23, 2013 – Stage Left Theatre announces the recipients of the Downstage Left Playwright Residencies for Season 32.  Residencies are designed to help playwrights take a project from the conceptual stage all the way to a production-ready script. Playwrights work closely with ensemble directors and members of the literary team to design a process tailored to the particular needs of their project.

Over 100 applications were submitted, each of which was evaluated by at least two members of the selection committee.  These written evaluations were used to create a list of 15 semi-finalists, which were read by the entire committee, then narrowed to a list of 6 finalists through a vote.  The final selections were then made by Literary Manager Zev Valancy and Artistic Director Vance Smith. The two residencies are The Comparables by Laura Schellhardt and The Firestorm by Meridith Friedman. “In its third year of open submissions, the Residency received its strongest crop of candidates yet, and the final decisions were extraordinarily difficult,” said Valancy, “We can’t wait to work with Laura and Meridith, and see how their plays develop over the course of the season.”

The Comparables by Laura Schellhardt

Three women vie for power in the cut-throat world of high-end real estate. Bette runs her own female-dominated agency. Monica is her loyal second-in-command. Iris is the savvy new hire. When Bette's reputation falls under attack, the future of the agency is at stake. Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal, and to what lengths will they go to ensure success?  A dark comedy that begs the question: for women in the competitive world -- is there more than one way to do business?

Laura Schellhardt’s original works include The Comparables, Upright Grand, Air Guitar High, Auctioning The Ainsleys, The Apothecary's Daughter, How To Remove Blood From a Carpet, The K of D, Courting Vampires and Shapeshifter.  Adaptations include The Phantom Tollbooth The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, The Outfit, and Creole Folktales. She is also the author of Screenwriting for Dummies.   Her work has been produced at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, The Magic Theatre, Wooly Mammoth Theatre, Boston Court Theatre, ACT Seattle, Northlight Theatre, and The Exchange Theatre, among others. Laura is a recipient of the TCG National Playwriting Residency, the Jerome Fellowship, ACT’s New Play Award, the Best New Play Award from the NYC Fringe, The AATE Distinguished Play Award, and a Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellowship.  She has participated in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The Ojai Playwrights Conference, SoHo Rep. Writer/Director Lab, the Women Playwrights Festival at SRT, The Kennedy Center New Voices/New Visions Festival, The Bonderman Symposium, and the O’Neill National Playwright’s Festival.   Laura received her MFA in playwriting from Brown University where she studied under Paula Vogel.   She currently heads the undergraduate playwriting program at Northwestern University.

The Firestorm by Meridith Friedman

Patrick, a candidate for governor of Ohio, and his wife Gaby are a perfect political couple, but there’s one small problem: he’s white and she’s black. When a racially charged incident from Patrick's past breaks out, Gaby’s skin color is thrust to the forefront of the campaign. Charged with defending her husband against accusations of racism, Gaby begins to wonder who her husband really is--and whether their marriage was ever what she thought it was.

The development process for The Firestorm will be led by Stage Left ensemble director Drew Martin.

Meridith Friedman was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She received her BA from Connecticut College, and her MFA in Writing for the Stage & Screen from Northwestern University. Her plays have been read, developed, and workshopped at The Kennedy Center, Curious Theatre Company, the NNPN National New Play Showcase, New Repertory Theatre, The Lark, The Greenhouse Theatre Center, Actor's Express, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She was the NNPN Playwright-in-Residence at Curious Theatre Company for their 2010-2011 season, and is currently a 2012-2013 Dramatist Guild Fellow. She has taught playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University, Kenyon College, Curious Theatre Company, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She was the literary associate at Page 73 Productions, and the Artistic Programs Manager at The Civilians.

The other finalists for the Downstage Left Residency were The Raggedy And by Dave Valdes Greenwood, Drop of Kindness by David Hilder, Good by James McLindon, and A Guide for the Homesick by Ken Urban. Semifinalists included Aglaonike’s Tiger by Claudia Barnett, Hkeelee by Leila Buck, The Seventh Day by Janie Killips, The Typewriter Play by Josh Nordmark, Piece of the Brave by Eric Pfeffinger, Occupy Elm City by Chris Pomeroy, Angry Black Woman by Tania Richard, Before Dawn by Dustin Spence, and The Absent Minded by Joe Zarrow.

ABOUT STAGE LEFT

Founded in 1982, Stage Left Theatre is committed to nurturing voices for the American theatre by developing and producing plays that raise debate and challenge perspectives on political and social issues. Through a full subscription season and Downstage Left, one of Chicago’s most prolific new play development programs, Stage Left strives to ask provocative social and political questions by producing a mix of new works, regional premieres and timeless classics.