Cover art of the Dramatist The Season That Was/Not Was Issue: a dark curtain coming down on an idyllic, colorful town
Guild News – July/August 2020
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DG Statement on Discriminatory Attacks Against Asian Americans


he Dramatists Guild of America condemns in no uncertain terms the rise of racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory attacks against Asian Americans.

As writers, we believe in the power of words to illuminate lasting truths and ennoble us all. We know, however, that words also have the power to inflict irreparable damage. Cruel and inaccurate terminology like “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” perpetuate anti-Asian stigma. Driven by vitriolic speech from the very highest levels of government and beyond, attacks against Asian Americans have intensified all across this country: an elderly woman beaten in a New York City subway, a family of four in Midland, Texas set upon by assailants with knives, a sixteen-year-old boy in California set upon by bullies and subsequently hospitalized.

The words that fuel these crimes diminish us all, degrade the human spirit, and erode our faith in fundamental values like decency, magnanimity, and grace. They also suppress the rights of others through intimidation and by instilling fear. The Guild exists to defend freedom of expression; it in no way supports criminalization of any individual’s Constitutional right to free and unfettered speech.

However, on behalf of our entire membership—and especially during these fractious times, those who are Asian American—we unequivocally decry language that purposefully denigrates, scapegoats, or otherwise terrorizes members of specific and vulnerable communities.

President of the Dramatists Guild of America

DG Members Receive 2020 Sloan Commissions


anhattan Theatre Club announced this year’s recipients of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions including Guild members Noah Diaz, Julia Izumi, and Stacey Rose.

“During these trying times, we are thrilled to be looking to the future with this exceptional lineup of newly commissioned writers,” said Scott Kaplan, MTC’s Director of Play Development. “We chose these writers based on their ability to marry their singular artistic perspectives with pressing and timely scientific themes. We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support over the last nineteen years in creating an invaluable opportunity for playwrights to bring vital topics to exhilarating theatrical life.”

Since 2001, MTC has awarded a total of 94 commissions through the Sloan Foundation Program. MTC first collaborated with the Sloan Foundation in 2000 on 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 writers as well as production grants to stage Sloan-related works. In addition to Proof, Sloan supported MTC’s productions of Sharr White’s The Other Place, Nell Benjamin’s The Explorers Club, and Bess Wohl’s Continuity among others.

DG Members Receive 2020 Sloan Commissions

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the 2020 recipients of the Guggenheim Fellowships. Of the 3,000 applicants and 175 winners, DG members Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Ethan Lipton, and Lloyd Suh were awarded fellowships in the field of Drama & Performance Arts.

This year’s group hail from 78 different academic institutions, 31 states, and two Canadian provinces. Now in its 96th year, the Guggenheim Fellowship is presented to candidates who demonstrate exceptional promise in their field of work. The Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has given its 18,000 fellows over $375 million since its formation in 1925, ensuring support for artists and scholars across the country.

MAP Fund Announces 2020-2021 Grantees

Since its establishment by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1988, the MAP Fund has awarded over $30 million to thousands of artists working in various disciplines. This year, recipients of MAP Fund grants include the following DG members and their collaborators: Adrienne Dawes, with Graham Reynolds and Jenny Larson for Casta at the Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin, TX; Jessica Bauman, Ramón Verdugo, Bárbara Perrín Rivemar, and Jesús Quintéro for The Frontera Project at New Georges in New York, NY; Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay for In the Camps: A Refugee Musical at the Indigenous Roots Cultural Center in St Paul, MN; Kyoung H. Park/Kyoung’s Pacific Beat for NERO at Fractured Atlas in New York, NY; MIRIAM GONZALES, Janet Stanford, Joanne Seelig Lamparter, and Milagros Ponce de León for Óyeme Mas Fuerte at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD; Erlina Ortiz and Gabriela Sanchez for Silueta at Power Street Theatre in Philadelphia, PA; Ty Defoe, Katherine Freer, and Mark Denning for Stories of Water at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival in Chicago, IL; Tanya Kalmanovitch for Songbook at the New School in New York, NY; Kit Yan and Simone Wolff with Orion S Johnstone and Anjimile Chithambo for (T)estosterone at the Artists’ Theater of Boston in Boston, MA; Michael R. Jackson, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Raja Feather Kelly, and Joshua Higgason for White Girl In Danger at the Vineyard Theatre and Workshop Center, Inc, in New York, NY; and Danielle Deadwyler, Madhuri Shekar, Mary Lynn Owen , and Angela M. Farr Schiller, PhD for Women’s Work at Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta, GA.

Six Talented Playwrights Win Helen Merrill Awards


ix exceptional American playwrights have been announced as the 2020 winners of the New York Community Trust’s Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting.

     The winners are DG members Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Kimber Lee, Mona Mansour, Sung Rno, plus Donja R. Love and Diana Oh.

The award is one of the most significant prizes for playwrights in the nation and, for many, is a springboard that helps propel already distinguished careers to a new level. Previous award winners have gone on to win Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes—and many have built long careers on and off-Broadway.

The late theatrical agent Helen Merrill created a fund in The New York Community Trust to carry out her charitable legacy. Since 1999, the fund has made 92 awards totaling $1.9 million.

An Advisory Committee composed of five leaders in the field of theater recommends recipients for the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting. The award committee does not accept nominations or applications. 

Lewis Wins Steinberg/ATCA Award

DG member E.M. Lewis is the 2020 recipient of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg / American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. The Steinberg/ATCA Award, which comes with a cash prize, recognizes playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2019.

The Oregon-based Lewis won first place for her play How the Light Gets In, which was produced by Boston Court in Pasadena, Calif. The work centers on a travel writer who never travels, a struggling architect, a tattoo artist and a homeless girl who find each other when one of them falls apart.

Lewis remarked in her acceptance speech that her play “is about finding the courage to reach toward each other in the darkest and most difficult times.” Also recognized with 2020 Steinberg/ATCA Citations were Lee Edward Colston II for The First Deep Breath, produced by Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre, and the Virginia-based based Chandler Hubbard for Animal Control, presented by Richmond’s Firehouse Theatre. Each playwright will receive $7,500 in prize money.

ATCA began honoring new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City in 1977. Plays receiving a production in New York City during the award cycle are not eligible for the Steinberg/ATCA award, recognizing the many other awards programs already in existence there.

The National Playwright Residency Program’s Cohort Three Announced

HowlRound Theatre Commons is pleased to announce it has been awarded a three-year, $1,336,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support HowlRound’s core programs and the continuation of the National Playwright Residency Program (NPRP), funding thirteen new playwright residencies in nine states.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled for this support that will help us continue to amplify progressive and disruptive ideas about the theatre, and to deepen the impact of our core programs,” shared HowlRound Director and Co-Founder Jamie Gahlon. She continued, “In this period of acute devastation for individual artists, the questions posed by The National Playwright Residency Program remain urgent: How do we pay our artists equitably? Can we trouble the status quo and re-think the relationships between artists and institutions? In this moment of vast transformation and precarity, what does it mean to make a playwright essential and centered in a theatre institution?”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and HowlRound launched NPRP in 2013 as an intervention into the traditional relationships between artists and institutions, and a way of reimagining what institutions might look like when an artist’s voice is at their cores. Residencies are collaboratively imagined and designed by playwrights and host theaters, and the grant funds three years of full-time salary and benefits for awarded playwrights, as well as discretionary artistic development. Host theatres commit to mounting at least one full production by the award playwright in the time of the residency.

NPRP Cohort Three includes the following residencies:

Carlyle Brown/Illusion Theater and School – Minneapolis, MN; E.M. Lewis/Artists Repertory Theatre – Portland, OR; Psalmayene 24/Mosaic Theater Company – Washington, DC; Regina Taylor/Repertory Theatre of St. Louis – St. Louis, MO; Cori Thomas/WP Theater – New York, New York; UNIVERSES (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and Steven Sapp)/Long Wharf Theatre – New Haven, CT; Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay/Theater Mu – St. Paul, MN; and J. Nicole Brooks/Lookingglass Theatre Company – Chicago, IL; Star Finch/Crowded Fire Theater & Campo Santo – San Francisco, CA; Virginia Grise/Cara Mía Theatre Co. – Dallas, TX; Basil Kreimendahl/Rattlestick Playwrights Theater – New York, NY; Murielle Borst Tarrant/La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club – New York, NY; and Betty Shamieh/The Classical Theatre of Harlem – New York, NY.

HowlRound and the Foundation have worked closely with grantees to document the impact of this program, as well as with outside evaluators to measure its success. The program assessment shows that the NPRP model positively impacts playwrights and host theaters in many ways, including by removing financial burdens felt by freelance playwrights and centering the artist in administrative conversations. HowlRound and the Foundation are committed to studying outcomes and shifting the program as needed to push the field forward by reimagining the relationship between institutions and artists, as well as modeling the collaborative effort between field leaders and funders.