Michael R. Jackson holds a BFA playwriting and a MFA Musical Theatre Writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He wrote book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl In Danger and A Strange Loop (which will receive its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons Theatre in May of 2019). He has received a 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, a 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, a 2017 ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a 2016/2017 Dramatists Guild fellowship, and was the 2017 Williamstown Theatre Festival Playwright-In-Residence. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3.
Statement: As a musical theatre writer who has managed to (barely) support himself through a series of grants, commissions, and awards for the last two years, I have faced nearly every challenge one can run into as a freelancer (rent instability, tax trouble, health insurance hurdles, etc.). In facing those challenges, it has become clear to me that theatre writers are a class of artists who are uniquely vulnerable to the blowing winds of the theatre industry. Though we have the benefit of owning our own copyright, without unionization, we have little ability to collectively bargain or make demands and are not thought of as working people. As a result, our payments are delayed with little transparency on when we will be paid, which only creates more uncertainty in our lives, all while we are still often expected to be in process on work. Because theatres are producing our work, a scarcity mentality makes us feel that we should just be quietly grateful for whatever opportunity is given to us. I find this model to be inadequate and in need of intervention. There is no reason a list of best practices could not be drafted to govern how writers are treated by the theatres producing their work. There is no reason a writer should not be able to look at a calendar and know when they are to be paid. There is no reason a writer should feel more insecure with their name in a season announcement than when it is not. Writers should also be in constant conversation with each other about these issues. I recently co-hosted a small group of theatre writers at the Dramatists Guild discussing the granular details of how we do (or don’t) make a living through writing and the challenges we face. Doing this promoted a sense of solidarity that felt extremely powerful and only made me want to get more involved with the Guild. I would like to be a voice on the Guild Council that speaks to the needs of writers as a collective working class, tries to address the unique inequities we face, and sees if the Guild might be able to help seal some of the cracks many of us regularly fall into as we attempt to make our way through the business of theatre writing.
Rebecca Gilman’s plays include Luna Gale, Dollhouse, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning Into Butter, Blue Surge, The Crowd You’re in With, The Glory of Living, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Ms. Gilman is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, The Harper Lee Award, The Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, The Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, The George Devine Award, an American Scandinavian Foundation Creative Writing Grant, and a Global Connections Grant by Theatre Communications Group. Boy Gets Girl received an Olivier nomination for Best New Play. Ms. Gilman was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for The Glory of Living. In 2016, Ms. Gilman was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame. She is an artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre and a professor of playwriting at Northwestern University. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Illinois. Her newest play, Twilight Bowl, will premiere at the Goodman in February of 2019.
Statement: It has been one of the greatest honors of my career to serve on the Council of the Dramatists Guild. I remain committed to doing all that I can to represent the needs and concerns of our members and to fight for the rights of playwrights, composers, and librettists everywhere.
If re-elected, I look forward to continuing my work with the Education Committee. I have volunteered to travel again on behalf of the Guild as a Mentoring Artist to KCACTF regional conventions. I am keenly interested in engaging students and educators in conversations about two issues of concern to the Education Committee. The first is its campaign to teach students (and their professors) that no changes can be made to a script without the dramatist’s prior consent. The second is the growing tension around the issue of free speech on campuses and in theatres.
We are all trying to navigate a world in which hate speech seems louder and more accepted than ever, and in which factions strive to hierarchize the stories and experiences of one group above all others. In reaction, some have called for safe spaces, asking that universities and theatres institute a policy of content or trigger warnings and to avoid – or even ban – plays that contain offensive or disturbing material. I want to explore how the Guild can protect its members’ right to free speech while still respecting the points of view of those who feel such measures are necessary. To that end, my colleagues at Northwestern University and I are organizing a symposium on the subject of free speech and safe spaces to take place this spring. We have asked the Guild to join the discussion. Our hope is that we might find solidarity with each other as artists and educators who depend on free expression for our survival.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to have served on the Council the last nine years, and I would be humbled and proud if elected to continue.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a Washington DC native and Brooklyn-based playwright, whose works for the theatre include Everybody, Gloria, An Octoroon, and Appropriate. A Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and two-time Pulitzer finalist, his other recent honors include the Charles Wintour Award from the London Evening Standard, a MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU and is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School. He has taught playwriting at NYU, Juilliard, Princeton, Hunter College, and Baruch College and, in 2019, he will join the faculty of University of Texas’s MFA program. He also serves on the board of Soho Rep.
COMMITTEES: Awards (Co-Chair), Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Statement: Serving on the Dramatists Guild Council has been an honor and a highlight of my professional life. I remain committed to uprooting all forms of a playwright’s exploitation in (and beyond) the field and advocating for the fullest educating possible of dramatist at any levels (students to established), especially in regard to their contractual rights.
I remain passionate about issues of diversity, not just in terms of race and gender but age and geography. I remain interested in fostering conversation between generations and across regions, creating a professional climate of knowledge-sharing and mentorship. To this end, I have served on the Contracts Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, paying particular attention to the ways in which the broader field must change in accordance to the transformation of the American Theatre itself. I have also led to the resurrection of the Awards Committee with a commitment to providing informational resources and counseling for all artists about the financial realities of prize economies and, importantly, to bringing overdue attention and recognition to colleagues working tirelessly outside of the New York City area.
If re-elected, I will seek to deepen and continue this work for a more inclusive, more enlightened, more sustainable field.
Christine Toy Johnson is an award-winning playwright, librettist, lyricist, actor, director, and advocate for inclusion. She has served on the DG Council since 2016, during which time she initiated the Guild’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. Recent works include Till Soon, Anne (book and lyrics with composer Bobby Cronin – developed in residencies at the O’Neill, part of the 2018 New York Theatre Barn New Works Series), The Secret Wisdom of Trees (included in Applause Books “Later Chapters” Anthology), Barcelona (book and lyrics with composer/lyricist Jason Ma, developed at the Weston Playhouse, CAP21 and Village Theatre’s Festival of New Works), Truth Against The World: The Life and Loves of Frank Lloyd Wright (developed in residency at the O’Neill, world premiere at the Kennedy/McIlwee Theatre) and Jumping the Third Rail (winner of a Meryl Streep/IRIS Writers Lab fellowship). The Library of Congress included a collection of her work into their Asian Pacific American Performing Arts Collection in 2010. Alum of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. Founder of The Asian American Composers & Lyricists Project. As part of the elected leadership of Actors’ Equity Association since 1992, she serves as National Chair of the union’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. Recipient of the 2013 Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors’ Equity for “outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human spirit in the American theatre.” Details: www.christinetoyjohnson.com.
COMMITTEES: Archives, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (Chair), Political Engagement, Publications
Statement: It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve on the Council and I’m very proud of the work I’ve been able to help get done so far, including initiating and chairing the Guild’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee. In this committee, we created the Guild’s official statement on Inclusion and are developing initiatives to fight for equal rights and representation for all members, as well as help build bridges of understanding with each other and our colleagues. I have truly enjoyed meeting members across the country at two national conferences, as well as in panels and DEI town halls that I’ve collaborated on with regional reps in San Diego, NYC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (so far). I intend to continue these Town Halls in as many cities as possible so that I can learn what specific needs your communities have and hopefully help build safe spaces in which to discuss many sensitive issues that arise regarding writing outside our lived experiences, and more. I don’t fancy myself an “expert” in this, but I hope to be able to share any insight I may have from being a working artist in this industry over the past three decades and taking what I learn back to the national Council for continued and proactive advocacy. I’m so proud of the many ways my colleagues on the Council continuously and tirelessly fight for the rights of writers. It would be my greatest honor to continue working alongside them. Giving thanks for your consideration.
Lisa Kron is a playwright and performer. She wrote book and lyrics for the musical Fun Home, which won five Tony Awards including Best Book, Score, and Musical. Other plays: Well, 2.5 Minute Ride (Obie, L.A. Drama-Logue and GLAAD Media Awards), The Ver**zon Play, In The Wake (Lilly Award). Acting: Good Person of Szechuan (Lortel-Best Supporting Actress), Well (Tony nom. Best Actress). Honors: Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, Doris Duke, Cal Arts/Alpert, and Helen Merrill awards, grants from Creative Capital and NYFA, and an AVNPI residency at Arena Stage. Founding member: OBIE- and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, whose plays include Brave Smiles, The Secretaries, and Oedipus at Palm Springs. AEA member. Also serves as an artist rep. on the boards of the MacDowell Colony and the Sundance Institute.
COMMITTEES: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Political Engagement (Chair), Steering
Statement: For over three decades I’ve worked across the broad spectrum of American theatre from tiny downtown performance spaces to Broadway to the Off-Broadway non-profits to educational theatre to dance-performance venues to the regionals, as a playwright, a collaborative devisor, a lyricist, and a performer. In my Council service, this range of experience has allowed me to advocate for my fellow playwrights from first-hand knowledge of many different types of situations faced by DG members. In my second term my three major areas of focus have been general governance as DG Vice President and Steering Committee member, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a member of the DEI subcommittee, and the launching of the Political Engagement Initiative, which I co-founded and help guide as chair of the PEI advisory committee.
The PEI came into being shortly after the 2017 Annual Meeting, where the Regional Reps spoke passionately about their desire for some way Guild members could respond to their sense of anxiety and vulnerability in the wake of the 2016 election. The Steering Committee met subsequently to discuss and, with history as our guide, concluded it would be naïve not to entertain the possibility that a period of heightened political vulnerability might lie ahead for playwrights. Steering then took the bold step of launching the PEI. Our charter has been evolving over the past year, but essentially, the Initiative serves as the Guild’s formal apparatus for identifying issues in the political landscape that affect members’ lives and the systems in which we make work and facilitating and coordinating members’ responses to those issues–sometimes rapid responses to emergent crises, sometimes longer-term advocacy around structural social or political inequities. The PEI committee acts as an advisor to Jenna Chrisphonte, the experienced organizer and advocate we hired as the Initiative’s Director of Community Engagement, to make sure that the initiatives we take up fall inside the scope of Guild concern. The PEI is unlike anything the Guild has done before, and it is taking us into uncharted waters. My work as chair includes safeguarding the fundamentally nonpartisan stance of the Guild, while helping to chart a path for robust, meaningful actions that build a sense of political empowerment and interconnectedness for Guild members all across the country in this time of increased political volatility.
If elected to a third term, I will continue to work with passion and commitment to develop the Guild’s ability to respond to my fellow members’ needs as they evolve in this rapidly changing moment in the history of American theatre.
Deborah Zoe Laufer’s plays have been produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Portland Stage, and The Humana Festival. Informed Consent, an Alfred P. Sloan/EST commission, appeared at The Duke Theatre in NYC in 2015, and was a NY Times Critic’s Pick. End Days won The ATCA Steinberg citation, and has received over 70 productions around the world. Other plays include Leveling Up, Out of Sterno, The Last Schwartz, Sirens, Meta, The Gulf of Westchester, Miniatures, Fortune, and, most recently, Be Here Now, commissioned and produced by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Window Treatment, produced by Premieres’ Inner Voices.
Deb is a recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, the Lilly Award, and grants and commissions from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Edgerton Foundation, NNPN,
the NEA, and the LeCompte du Nouy grant. Her plays have been developed at PlayPenn, The O’Neill, Williamstown, Ojai, The Missoula Colony, The Cherry Lane Alternative, New Georges, The Lark, Asolo Rep, PlayLab, and the Baltic Playwrights Conference. She is an alumna of Juilliard and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. DEBORAHZOELAUFER.COM
Statement: The work I do for The Guild is one of the great joys of my playwriting life. I’ve been fortunate to serve on the publications committee for the past five years, and written and led panels for The Dramatist. I’ve been on the nominating committee, taught at the Dramatists Guild Institute, and been a visiting artist with the Dramatists Guild Foundation Traveling Masters program. I was in the first group of Dramatists Guild Fellows and got to co-host their presentations this year! I love the Guild and the support it offers playwrights at every stage of their careers.
For the past few years, I’ve been directing my plays at various theatres and have discovered that there are many conversations and decisions taking place that I’d been left out of as a playwright. I’d like to work toward giving writers a more significant role and voice in production. I’m eager to work on initiatives toward gender parity and diversity, toward educating high schools and colleges about the sanctity of the written word (as written!), and on creating more opportunities for mid-career playwrights.
I was a lonely, lonely theatre kid growing up. I couldn’t convince anyone to be in a play with me, so I did The Belle of Amherst alone, both junior and senior years, performing it wherever anyone would let me – the VFW, the community college, peoples’ living rooms. I started, and was the sole member (for four years), of the Dramatic Interp. team in high school. The only plays in our local library were in the “Burns Mantle Best Play” books, and I poured over every one. Though I’ve been a member of The Guild for two decades now, it’s still such a thrill for me to be part of a community of dramatists, advocating for dramatists.
Alan Menken’s music and lyrics have become an integral part of the fabric of our lives since his first works were produced nearly 40 years ago. His stage musicals include God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy, Real Life Funnies, Little Shop of Horrors, Kicks, The Dream on Royal Street, Beauty and The Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Newsies, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Song and score credits for film musicals include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, The Shaggy Dog, Home on the Range, Enchanted, Tangled and Mirror Mirror. Individual songs for film include Rocky V – “The Measure of a Man”, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – “My Christmas Tree”, Life With Mikey – “Cold Enough to Snow”, Noel – “Winter Light” and Captain America: First Avenger – “Star Spangled Man”. Television credits include writing songs for Sesame Street, the ABC mini-series “Lincoln,” a musical episode of “The Neighbors” and the ABC series “Galavant.” His chart topping songs have included “Beauty and the Beast”, “A Whole New World”, “Colors of the Wind” and “Go the Distance.” Winner of the 2012 Tony and Drama Desk awards for his score for Newsies, he has won more Academy Awards than any other living individual, including four Oscars® for Best Score and four for Best Song; eleven Grammy® Awards (including Song of the Year for “A Whole New World”); seven Golden Globes; London’s Evening Standard Award; the Olivier Award; the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award. Other notable achievements include induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Billboard’s number one single (“A Whole New World”) and number one album (Pocahontas). In 2001 he received the distinction of being named a Disney Legend. Awarded two doctorates in Fine Arts from New York University and the North Carolina School of the Arts, in 2010 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Statement: I have been a strong supporter of The Dramatists Guild for the entirety of my career; going back over 35 years. And, if re-elected to the Dramatists Guild council, I will continue to use my voice and my influence even more actively in that capacity. We, as writers and lyricists and composers, create structures that allow the work of other artists to flourish. Actors, musicians, directors, producers, and designers both inhabit and interpret our plays and musicals and songs, something that constantly brings new life and meaning to our work. The balance between protecting our words and our music and collaborating freely and creatively with others is made possible by the work of the Dramatists Guild. In a constantly evolving world, and an ever fragile industry, the support of this guild is a blessing we can never take for granted.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor. He is the creator and original star of Broadway’s Tony-winning Hamilton and In the Heights. His additional Broadway credits include Bring It On: The Musical (co-composer/co-lyricist, Tony nomination for Best Musical), and West Side Story (2009 revival, Spanish translations). Miranda is a recipient of the 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award and 2018 Kennedy Center Honors. He has actively supported the relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September 2017, creating the benefit single, “Almost Like Praying” in support of the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program. He received an Emmy Award with Tom Kitt for their song, “Bigger” from the 67th Annual Tony Awards. TV/Film credits
include “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2018 Emmy Nomination, Guest Actor), “Saturday Night Live” (2017 Emmy Nomination, Guest Actor), “Sesame Street,” “The Electric Company,” “House,” “DuckTales,” 200 Cartas, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Moana (2017 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, Grammy Award for Best Original Song) and Mary Poppins Returns (2019 Golden Globe Nomination, Best Actor). Miranda received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2002. He lives with his family in NYC.
Statement: Being an ambassador for the work of The Dramatists Guild as a council member, and in the world, is one of the great joys of my life, from talking to young playwrights about the various ways the Guild protects their work and their livelihood to being a loud voice on social media on behalf of the Guild, particularly on issues of new musical theatre work, online piracy, and the ways in which playwrights continue to benefit from the Guild’s work on their behalf. Being a writer is hard, lonely work, but it’s easier when the Guild has your back, and I look forward to having the backs of the next generation, while learning from my incredible fellow playwrights on this council.
Lynn Nottage is a two time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world. Her plays include: Floyd’s, Mlima’s Tale, Sweat, By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, Ruined, Intimate Apparel, Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers and POOF!. She conceived This is Reading, a multi-media performance installation based on two years of interviews, at the Franklin Street, Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA in July 2017. She is currently working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on adapting her play Intimate Apparel into an opera, commissioned by The Met/LCT. She wrote the book for the world premiere musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Nottage is the recipient of a number of distinguished awards including Three Obie awards, Drama Desk Award, MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Steinberg “Mimi” Distinguished Playwright Award, PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the inaugural Horton Foote Prize. She is also an Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Columbia School of the Arts. Nottage is a board member for BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, Donor Direct Action, Dramatists Play Service, Second Stage, and the Dramatists Guild.
COMMITTEES: Nominating, Opera, Publications, Steering
Statement: It has been a joy and honor to serve on The Dramatists Guild Council. As a writer and long-time educator, I remain deeply invested in nurturing and supporting playwrights at all stages of their careers and ensuring that our organization embraces the rich diversity of voices that make up the American theatre. I believe in the notion of community, and that our strength lies in our ability to advocate for each other.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to participate on a number of committees, including Publications, Opera, and Nominating. I’m currently the Secretary of the Steering committee, which has allowed me to play an active role in the strategic planning for the organization. It has also helped me to better understand the intricacies of the vital work that the Guild undertakes to protect the rights of composers, lyricists, librettists, and playwrights. I’ve applied what I’ve learned to my work as the Guild’s representative on the Board of The Dramatists Play Service, which is a publishing company co-founded by the Guild, in order to make plays affordable and accessible throughout the country. In addition, I advocate for gender parity as a Board member of the Lilly Awards. I remain committed to fostering an environment that welcomes and celebrates the complexity of voices within our community, and it would be my honor to continue to serve on the council.
Lloyd Suh is the author of The Chinese Lady, Charles Francis Chan Jr…, American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Jesus in India, and others, produced with Ma-Yi, Magic Theatre, EST, NAATCO, Children’s Theatre Co, PlayCo, Denver Center, East West Players and more, including internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, Mellon Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome, TCG, Dramatists Guild, and residencies including NYS&F and Ojai. His plays have been published by Sam French, DPS, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theatre magazine. He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer Director Lab. From 2005-2010 he served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and was a Founding Member of the Consortium of Asian American Theatres & Artists, serving on the
Executive Steering Committee that created the National Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival. He has served since 2011 as the Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark, where he has supported the work of several hundred playwrights at various career stages, through a wide range of programs including the Venturous Playwright Fellowship, Van Lier New Voices Fellowship, The Apothetae and Lark Initiative, and Global Exchange programs that have connected writers from Mexico, China, Syria, Palestine, Russia, Romania and more with US-based playwrights. He has served on the Dramatists Guild Council since 2015.
COMMITTEES: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Statement: I am eager to continue serving on Council, and to continue lending my perspective to the Guild’s essential work in the field. As both a writer and an arts administrator, I have worked in support of hundreds of writers from across the country and around the world, representing a wide diversity of geographies, cultural and social identities, aesthetics, and career levels. I know there’s a big difference between the needs of established writers and the early-career or pre-professional, and that it’s the Guild’s job to advocate for both. I have direct personal experience with a wide range of developmental festivals and conferences, in production off and off-off Broadway, with both mainstream and culturally-specific grassroots theatres, regional theatres, universities, and amateur companies; as a self-producer; as a translator, and as a writer being translated. I am familiar with the opportunities and challenges that work in each of these contexts provides. As an administrator and advocate, I have overseen programs and projects expressly devoted to the empowerment and sustainability of individual playwrights’ voices, and these are the values I carry into Council. I take seriously the Guild’s unique position as a force of communal solidarity for playwrights. I believe the Council has an enormous responsibility to promote equity within the Guild’s membership and to advocate for greater equity for all playwrights within the entire field of the American theatre.