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National New Pay Network Grant Recipients Awarded Over $125,000

Naomi Crews • Industry News • June 16, 2015

National New Play Network logoThe grant recipients —  including the Smith Prize for Political Theatre, the 2015 Annual Commission, two Playwright Residencies, five Producer Residencies, and two Collaboration Fund awards — were announced at the 2015 Annual Conference at New Repertory Theatre.


Producer and Playwright Residencies, Commissions and Collaboration Fund Awardees announced at the 2015 Annual Conference at New Repertory Theatre

June 16, 2015

Watertown, MA – The National New Play Network, the country’s alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, announced its 2015-16 grant recipients, including the Smith Prize for Political Theatre, the 2015 Annual Commission, two Playwright Residencies, five Producer Residencies, and two Collaboration Fund awards that will support partnership between eight of its members on two productions. In all, NNPN committed over $125,000 to fourteen Core Member Theaters and nine Affiliated Artists.

Executive Director Nan Barnett says, “The board, staff and affiliated artists of the National New Play Network are honored once again to expand the impact of our programs with these announcements.   These funds will reach the audiences and artists of communities across the US – from San Diego to South Florida, from Tucson to Atlanta, and from Minneapolis to Dallas and beyond – these NNPN Member Theaters and theater-makers will further the network’s vision of revolutionizing the ways theaters collaborate to support new plays.”

NNPN Affiliated Artist Jennifer Fawcett received the 2015 Smith Prize for Political Theatre, established in 2006 by Timothy Jay Smith and a group of socially conscious donors to encourage emerging playwrights to tackle the pressing issues of our times. Her project, currently untitled, is a solo show in which a woman is awakened by a telephone call asking her to bake an apple pie for her son, on death row, who has requested it for his last meal. While she bakes it on stage, she reflects on her own role in raising a child who would go on to commit a heinous crime. Fawcett was the NNPN Playwright-In-Residence at Curious Theatre Company, her play The Toymaker’s Warwas presented at the NNPN National Showcase of New Plays and she has twice developed work at the NNPN/Kennedy Center MFA Playwrights Workshop.

The 2015 Annual Commission was awarded to Core Member Borderlands Theater (Tucson, AZ) and playwright Virginia Grise for her project, a theatrical adaptation of Helena Maria Viramontes’ novel Their Dogs Came with Them, told through the voices of four Mexican-American protagonists in East Los Angeles during the tumultuous 1960s. Says Borderland’s Artistic Director Marc Pinate, “Grise and Viramontes are both exceptional storytellers, award winning artists that write with a trenchant feminist eye towards the racialized histories of the Southwest and Mexico, with mouths full of poetry, anger and desire and I believe the proposed project will find a receptive audience not only in Tucson but on many stages throughout the country.”

NNPN Core Members Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO) and Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta, GA) will host Playwrights in Residence Emily Dendinger and trey anthony, respectively, during their 2015-16 seasons, with grant support from the Network. The program was established in 2007 to support playwrights for season-long residencies at NNPN Core Member Theaters. Theaters apply to sponsor an emerging or mid-career playwright selected for his or her talent, artistic vision, and interest in the type of work being produced by the theater. The selected theater provides the resident playwright with an artistic home for a season, while the playwright participates in the life of that theater.

In 2015-16, five emerging theater makers will serve as Producers in Residence at NNPN’s Core Members: Clifton Guterman at Actor’s Express (Atlanta, GA), Jess Hutchinson at Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas, TX), and Adrienne Boris at New Repertory Theatre (Watertown, MA); as well as Martin Damien Wilkins at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (NC) and Addie Gorlin at Mixed Blood Theatre (Minneapolis, MN), who will each be participating in their second year as Resident Producers. The program aims to revolutionize the way theaters support new plays by educating new leaders about collaboration, training early-career producers about successful models, and providing connections to alternative networks.

The NNPN Collaboration Fund was established in an effort to encourage innovative, pioneering, project-based partnerships among theaters in support of playwrights and new plays. Monies are awarded annually on a competitive basis to projects proposed to NNPN’s Executive Committee by National New Play Network Core Members, working together with other member theaters on the development or production of a new work or works. NNPN is grateful that for 2014-15 and 2015-16 additional monies for this program were provided by the Venturous Theater Fund, allowing for an increase in the number of projects and amounts awarded to partnerships. This year, NNPN will support collaborations between Core Members on two projects, the first including Borderlands Theater (Tucson, AZ), Cleveland Public Theatre (OH), Milagro/Miracle Theatre Group (Portland, OR), Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO), and El Cìrculo Teatral (Mexico City, non-member); and another between Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota), New Theatre (Miami, FL), and Orlando Shakespeare Theater (FL).


The $5,000 Prize is awarded annually as a commission, chosen by the Network, from proposals from NNPN-affiliated early career writers for a play that examines the American body politic. NNPN also compensates a Core Member theater up to $2,500 for a developmental workshop of the play, and provides an additional $2,500 to the first NNPN Core Member to fully produce the resulting work.


Jennifer Fawcett is a co-founder and Associate Artistic Director of Working Group Theatre, where she was awarded the NEFA National Theatre Project Award for her play Out Of Bounds, which will tour nationally in 2016.  She is also the winner of the National Science Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center and was nominated for the ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award. Her work has been produced at Hancher Auditorium (University of Iowa), Riverside Theatre (Iowa City), Available Light Theatre (Columbus), Tennessee Women’s Theatre Project (Nashville), The Drilling Company (New York), the Adirondack Theatre Festival (Glens Falls, NY), Alcyone Festival (Chicago), the Hatchery Festival (Washington, DC) and in festivals across Canada.  Most recently, she developed a new play at Berkeley Rep as part of the Ground Floor Summer Residency.


Championing the development and production of new plays while producing plays by established playwrights whose work resonates with the diversity of our audiences; partnering with regional civic organizations to foster diversity (geographic, cultural and ethnic) in play development and productions; and producing diverse and quality programs for youth. Founded in 1986 by a group of community activists, Borderlands Theater is a professional theater company recognized nationally and internationally for the development and production of theater and educational programs that reflect the diverse voices of the US/Mexico border region.


From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to largescale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa – Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. A recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing and the Yale Drama Series Award, her published work includes blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues, cowritten with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). She earned her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more info:


“No guts, no story” embodies the ethos of Curious Theatre Company. Established 16 years ago by a vanguard Artistic Company that has since grown to 28 professional actors, designers, and directors at its core, Curious brings the best new theatre to Denver, producing thought-provoking plays designed to challenge ideas, stir emotions, and leave audiences thinking and talking. The mission of Curious Theatre Company is to engage the community in important contemporary issues through provocative modern theatre.


Horizon Theatre Company’s mission is to connect people, inspire hope, and promote positive change through the stories of our times. Horizon Theatre Company has been bringing exciting area and world premieres of contemporary plays to Atlanta’s audiences under the leadership of Co-Artistic Directors and Founders Lisa and Jeff Adler since 1983. A professional theatre with a reputation for excellent ensemble acting, Horizon produces outstanding new plays by today’s playwrights that reflect and challenge the lives of the diverse people living in the urban Southeast.


Emily’s plays include Hideous Progeny, which has been produced by LiveWire Theater in Chicago, Holland Productions in Boston and received several stages readings throughout the country. Her playSwimming After Dark won the 2005 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region I’s 1X2 One Act Playwriting Competition and 2008 Women Playwrights’ Initiative’s Playwriting Award. Her one-act play Family Tree was named the Senior Theater League of America’s Best Play 2004 and is currently published by Dramatic Publishing. Emily’s short plays have been produced around the country, including in the Boston Ten Minute Play Marathon, 20% Theatre, Jackelope and LiveWire. Emily is a recipient of the 2005 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival National Selection Team Fellowship, a two-time Theatre Masters Winner and was named a 2015 finalist for the Kendida National Playwriting Award.  Emily’s plays have been developed with TimeLine Theatre, Filament Theatre, The Alliance Theatre, the Lark and Sideshow Theatre. She recently graduated from the University of Iowa’s Playwright’s Workshop and currently resides in Chicago.


Award winning playwright, executive producer, actor, creator, and stand‐up comedian trey anthony, is known for the ground- breaking television and theatrical  production ‘da Kink in my Hair. Critics have referred to anthony as “The Oprah of the Canadian theatre scene!” Trey was also the executive producer, co‐creator and writer of the hit television show ‘da Kink in my Hair for Global Television. In the series she was the outspoken, wise‐cracking, Joy, who has become an audience favorite! ‘da Kink in my Hair, theatrical play, was Dora nominated and has received critical acclaim, and broken box office records wherever it has played. The play is also the recipient of four NAACP Theatre awards and was the first Canadian play to be produced at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Canada’s largest commercial theatre. It was named as one of the top ten plays in Canada’s theatrical history! ‘da Kink has been seen in California, in London, England and made its New York debut at Tisch School for the Arts at New York University in October 2010.


Actor’s Express is a theatre that challenges and reflects contemporary human experiences in an inclusive environment. It seeks to jumpstart individual transformations through the shared adventure of our live performances, which range from daringly provocative to audaciously hilarious. Actor’s Express constantly develops new talent, pushes boundaries and encourages people to question their place in the world. Its work creates emotional connections between audience and artist, catalyzing discussion on the complex issues of the contemporary human experience. It stays one step ahead of the conversation – our audiences expect to be challenged when they attend our programming.


It is the mission of Kitchen Dog Theater to provide a place where questions of justice, morality, and human freedom can be explored. KDT chooses plays that challenge our moral and social consciences, invite our audiences to be provoked, challenged, and amazed. It believes that the theater is a site of individual discovery as well as a force against conventional views of the self and experience. It is not a provider of answers, but an invitation to question. Since theater of this kind is not bound by any tradition, Kitchen Dog Theater is committed to exploring these questions whether they are found in the classics, contemporary works, or new plays.


New Repertory Theatre produces plays that speak powerfully to the essential ideas of our time. Through the passion and electricity of live theater performed to the highest standards of excellence, New Rep expands and challenges the human spirit of both artists and audience. New Rep presents world premieres, contemporary and classic works in several intimate settings. It is committed to education and outreach, including special dedication to the creation of innovative in-school programming and providing access to underserved audiences. New Rep is an active advocate for the arts and a major voice in the national dialogue defining the role of theater in our culture.


The mission of Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte is to connect with people through the presentation of bold and innovative new works by contemporary playwrights who share our respect for language and humanity. It is the region’s leading professional theatre company dedicated to programming exclusively for mature audiences.


Mixed Blood Theatre, a professional, multi-racial company, promotes cultural pluralism and individual equality through artistic excellence, using theater to address artificial barriers that keep people from succeeding in American society. Mixed Blood’s vision is to be the definitive destination where theater artists and audiences representing the global village can create and share work that spawns a ripple effect of social change and revolutionizes access to theater.


Clifton is an Atlanta based actor who, in addition to his on-screen appearances, has performed on stage in New York and at numerous top regional and local theatres. He formerly served on the Artistic staff of the Alliance Theatre and also held the position of Casting Director at Actor’s Express, where he is an Associate Artist, teaching artist and National New Play Network Artist Ambassador. Clifton is the Associate Producer/Casting Director at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit. His auditioning and industry workshops have been featured at American College Theatre Festival, Southeastern Theatre Conference and Georgia Thespian Conference. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and holds a BA in Drama from the University of Georgia and an MFA in Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Clifton is from Iron City, a small town in southwest-GA.


Jess Hutchinson is a theatre director, dramaturg, and producer based in Austin, Texas. She recently earned her MFA at UT Austin, where she had the pleasure of collaborating with stellar writers on projects like ‘ratio, Lyla School, 70 Secrets of Marmalade Kittens, 100 Heartbreaks and Enter A Woman, Pretty Enough. During her five years as Artistic Director of Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, her favorite projects included Arcadia, The Dining Room, and world premieres of Burying Miss America, Lighthousekeeping, and The Man Who Was Thursday.


Adrienne Boris is a director of theatre and opera based in Boston. She is very pleased to working at New Repertory Theatre as the NNPN Producer-in-Residence. Adrienne has enjoyed a long relationship with New Rep, where she has previously directed a staged reading of Kathleen Cahill’s Harbur Gate (the NNPN 2013 Commission), in addition to assistant directing Zohar Tirosh’s new play Pieces, Deb Margolin’s Imagining Madoff, and the upcoming world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s Baltimore, a co-production with Boston Center for American Performance. Active in the Boston fringe community, Adrienne co-founded Exquisite Corps Theatre in 2009 with the goal of producing new and contemporary work. Adrienne has worked as a director of opera with several companies, including Opera Providence, NEMPAC Opera Project, and Opera North, where she was the 2013 Young Artist Stage Director. Adrienne recently earned her MFA in Directing at Boston University School of Theatre, where she serves as a Part Time Lecturer.


Addie Gorlan is a NNPN Producer in Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. Upon graduating from Dartmouth College in 2011, Addie committed to Teach for America and spent three years as an English and Drama teacher in Northern California. Concurrently, Addie was the 2013-2014 Directing Fellow at The Cutting Ball Theater and assisted directed in theaters across The Bay. Addie has since been delighted to return to her hometown to work alongside Jack Reuler learning the ins-and-outs of production and artistic direction. In her spare time, she works as an educator and freelance director throughout the Twin Cities.


Martin Damien Wilkins has been selected as a member of the inaugural class of National Directors Fellows. He currently serves as the National New Play Network’s Producer-In-Residence at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte where he directed Lydia R. Diamond’s Stick Fly. He has developed new work at institutions such as the Alliance Theatre, Ars Nova, Classical Theatre of Harlem, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, the Hip Hop Theater Festival, the Lark Play Development Center, the New York Musical Theatre Festival and Primary Stages. They include Katori Hall’s Olivier Award winning play, The Mountaintop, and Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On. He also served as the Assistant to director Charles Randolph-Wright on workshops of the Broadway musical, Motown: The Musical. Martin has been the recipient of Arena Stage’s Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellowship, a Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) Observership and was a finalist for SDCF’s Mike Ockrent Fellowship. Martin is a native Charlottean and a graduate of Duke University.


En El Circulo Teatral somos un grupo de profesionales, que creemos haber logrado una postura respetable en el ámbito artístico; que ante la situación actual que enfrenta la cultura, especialmente la teatral, decidimos expresarnos por medio de un proyecto de autogestión para desarrollar un sentido de pertenencia en nuestra sociedad.


Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission is to raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performances and life-changing educational programs. CPT develops new, adventurous work; and nurtures Northeastern Ohio artists — particularly those whose work is inventive, intelligent, and socially conscious. CPT’s acclaimed education programs engage underserved communities in devising new works that speak to contemporary issues, and empower participants to work for positive change in its community.


The Miracle Theatre Group has been working its magic on West Coast regional audiences since its incorporation as a nonprofit organization in 1985. Miracle produces a broad array of programming that includes public performances as well as specialized touring and education projects that currently encompass all of the Western states. Miracle’s efforts have impacted the community with many positive results and through the successful development of a variety of artistic programs, it has given a prominent voice to issues affecting the local and national Hispanic community.


Unicorn Theatre enhances Kansas City by developing and producing professional, provocative new plays. We create opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and administrative staff. The Unicorn is a proud founding member of the National New Play Network.  In addition to new plays it helped develop with the NNPN, the Unicorn has commissioned many new works with the help of funders like the National Endowment for the Arts.


Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is Sarasota’s contemporary theatre, located in the heart of downtown. It has been in operation in Sarasota since 1973. The Florida Studio Theatre campus is a village of theatres – the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre. Near the Sarasota bayfront, FST brings an energy and vitality to the downtown area. Each theatre is small in size and large in impact – providing an intimate and engaging setting for high-quality, professional performances. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, it is the theatre where the street meets the elite, where everyone is welcome to come and engage in the art of theatre.


New Theatre is a multi-cultural theatre producing a season of Nouveau Classic works, blending classics and new works, which speak to and about a diverse contemporary audience by stimulating, provoking, challenging, and entertaining since 1986. Entering its 28th Anniversary Season, the theatre has flourished under the energetic Artistic Direction of Ricky J. Martinez and Managing Director, Eileen Suarez refining its focus on works which speak of social/religious/humanistic interests, relevant issues of discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation, the immigrant’s plight, the role of youth in the community, and for stories from the heart and for the soul which celebrate the mosaic that makes up its South Florida community.


With Shakespeare as its standard and inspiration, Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF produces bold professional theater, develops new plays, and provides innovative educational experiences that enrich its community. Orlando Shakes’ vision is to create theater of extraordinary quality that encourages the actor/audience relationship, embraces the passionate use of language, and ignites the imagination. Its goal is to be a nationally recognized destination theater offering productions and education year-round for all audiences.


National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays.  Since its founding in 1998, NNPN supported over 150 productions nationwide through its innovative NNPN Rolling World Premieres program. In addition to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NNPN receives support from individuals and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, and The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. The Network is comprised of 29 Core Members, who pioneer and implement collaborative new play strategies, and a growing group of Associate Members, who disseminate the Network’s programs and strategies nationwide.

NNPN’s Core Member theaters are:  Actor’s Express Theatre (Atlanta), Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC), Borderlands Theater (Tucson), Cleveland Public Theatre (Cleveland, OH), Contemporary American Theater Festival (Shepherdstown, WV), Curious Theatre Company (Denver), Florida Studio Theatre (Sarasota), Fountain Theatre (LA), Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta), InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas), Magic Theatre (San Francisco), Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA), Milagro (Portland, OR), Mixed Blood Theatre Company (Minneapolis), New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch), New Repertory Theatre (Watertown, MA), New Theatre (Coral Gables, FL), Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando), Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor, MI), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), Playwright’s Theatre of New Jersey (Madison), Prop Thtr Group (Chicago), Riverside Theatre (Iowa City, IA), Salt Lake Acting Company (Salt Lake City), San Diego REPertory Theatre (San Diego), Southern Rep (New Orleans), Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO), and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC)

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