Business Affairs

Antoinette Nwandu (Nominee)

While I was in grad school, my professors talked so much about The Dramatists Guild that sometimes I rolled my eyes. Okay, it’s a great resource for writers. I get it. I was a student member then and also, during the spring of my first year, an intern in the Times Square office. My banner project was updating the Guild’s database of regional theatres.

Fast forward two years and I’m sitting in my apartment re-writing a terrible play when my laptop dies. Like really, really dies. I panic for about 48 hours, and then I remember some of the stuff my professors said about The Guild and send them this herky-jerky, apologetic email. I had a new computer in less than a week.

The year I spent as a Dramatists Guild Fellow, making work with writers, composers, and lyricists I deeply respect, marked my formal transition from student-apprentice to professional. I dutifully sent every off-off Broadway contract I got to the Legal Dept because when you don’t have an agent, the Guild will look them over for you. Do people know that?

But there were also years when I let my membership slide because after rent and food, there wasn’t enough left over. And there were years when I regressed, and eye-rolling was all I could manage because nobody featured in the pages of The Dramatist magazine was as brilliant as me, and yet, there they were talking about their opportunities.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m human. And I’m a writer. And even though sitting alone with my words and the thoughts they represent is my idea of heaven, I need a community too. And I’ve found one through The Guild. Now I’d like to do everything I can to make it the best it can possibly be.

BIO: The first theatre-related writing I ever did was as a critic. After seeing maybe five plays by the time I graduated high school, I started reading plays in college and just knew that I wanted to be near them. So I went to Scotland, got a Master’s Degree in kilt-wearing men, fell out of love with my plan to pursue a PhD, and reviewed plays during the Edinburgh Fringe. I kept reviewing plays once I settled in New York because: free tickets. Did I mention that “college” was Harvard?

My foray into playwriting began in earnest after somebody told me my reviews weren’t tough enough; I was focusing too much on the writers I had come to both admire and envy. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I sat down and wrote a play. What a feeling! Could this be love? After grad school (NYU Tisch), I spent the next long while putting my creative guts back together. Then I really got down to business.

Here’s all the fun stuff: My plays include Pass Over (Steppenwolf, LCT3, Echo Theater, ACT Theater); Breach: a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate (Victory Gardens); and Flat Sam (Play Penn). A filmed version

 

of the Jeff-award winning, Steppenwolf production of Pass Over—directed by Spike Lee—premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and at SXSW and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

I’ve won a 2018 Whiting Award, the 2017 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, the 2017 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Samuel French Next Step Award, the Joan Cullman Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company’s Douglas Turner Ward Prize, and spots on the 2016 and 2017 Kilroys lists.

I’ve written plays as a MacDowell Fellow, a Dramatists Guild Fellow, and an Ars Nova Play Group alum, and developed them at The Sundance Theatre Lab, Space on Ryder Farm, Ignition Fest, The Cherry Lane Mentor Project, Page73, PlayPenn, Southern Rep, The Flea, Naked Angels, Fire This Time, and The Movement Theater Company.

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