Dramatists Guild Council Digest
In an effort to keep our membership informed about how the Guild operates, we have added a monthly column highlighting some of the discussion topics from the Dramatists Guild Council Meetings. The Dramatists Guild is run by a Council of 63 members who meet monthly to discuss the business of the Dramatists Guild, membership, and outreach.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012:
• The 2012 Nominating Committee held its annual meeting to consider nominees for the 2013 Council ballot.
• The online ballot to elect Council members will be available at the beginning of January. Any qualifying Member wishing to receive a hardcopy ballot may request one from the Dramatists Guild offices. A hardcopy ballot request was sent to all Members in the mail at the end of November.
• The Author’s Coalition form, which ran in the November/December issue of The Dramatist and was posted on the website, was mailed to all members of the Guild the last week of November. It is due back to the Dramatists Guild offices by January 31, 2013.
• The Guild sent Executive Director Ralph Sevush and Alan Menken to Seattle in November. The three events focused on copyright with local academics, updating Guild members on news and events from the New York office, and a public event for the Seattle theatrical community, sponsored by the Dramatists Guild.
• The Mentoring Artist Tour will send the following Guild members to attend individual regions of the American College Theater Festival: Rebecca Gilman
in Saginaw, Michigan in January
; Theresa Rebeck
in Los Angeles in February; and Mark Hollmann
and Greg Kotis
in Hyannis, Massachusetts in February.
• The Dramatists Guild Resource Directory is ahead of schedule and will reach members before the New Year. Starting in 2013 all information from the Resource Directory will be available on the Dramatists Guild website.
• In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, The Dramatists Guild Fund was able to donate $40,000 to 40 tri-state area theatres with operating budgets of less than $1,000,000.
Thursday, December 20, 2012:
• The Dramatists Guild passed a proposal for the creation of the Lanford Wilson Prize. This annual award of $35,000 will be presented to an emerging playwright, regardless of age, with two or more professional productions of note, and for whom the money will make a meaningful impact. The 2013 recipient of the Lanford Wilson Prize has been awarded to playwright Francine Volpe.
• The Dramatists Guild’s SDC Committee will meet with the Society of Directors and Choreographers to discuss the outcome of the recent survey that was sent to each organization’s memberships regarding subsidiary rights.
• The Resource Directory was mailed to the membership on December 14 and will be available on the website in 2013. Next year there will be an option to opt out of receiving a hard copy of the directory.
• A promotional video about the Guild was completed. The five-minute video explains who the Dramatists Guild is and what it can offer playwrights. The Guild hopes to reach younger writers with these videos. They will be posted on the Dramatists Guild website and YouTube. A one-minute version will also be available and will be shown at the beginning of each Dramatists Guild seminar and public event.
• There has been an increase in membership for November and December. The Guild is up over one-thousand members from a year ago. This can be largely attributed to the work of the regional representatives.
The Dramatists Guild Creates The Lanford Wilson Prize
The Dramatists Guild is proud to announce the creation of the Lanford Wilson Prize. This annual prize of $35,000 will be awarded to an emerging playwright with two or more professional productions of note and for whom the money will make a meaningful impact. The first recipient of the Lanford Wilson Prize has been awarded by the Dramatists Guild council to playwright Francine Volpe. She will receive the award at the Guild’s Awards Night on February 26, 2013, at the Lamb’s Club in New York City.
Francine Volpe is a New York City-based playwright and screenwriter. Her plays include The Good Mother (with Gretchen Mol, directed by Scott Elliot), The Given (directed by Michael Imperioli, finalist for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize). Other plays include Late Fragment (Studio Dante and The New Company in London), Sweethearts (The New Company), and Giftbox (stageFARM). Francine’s other plays have received readings and workshops at A.C.T., Arena Stage, Naked Angels, Rattlestick Theater, SoHo Rep and WET. Francine is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School where studied with Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang. Her screenplays include Queenie and I’ll Be Your Mirror. She teaches screenwriting and playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College, ESPA, Stella Adler Academy in Los Angeles, and privately throughout the country. She is a member of New Dramatists and the Guild.
David Henry Hwang, Adrienne Kennedy, And Marcus Gardley Receive United States Artists Awards
United States Artists, the not-for-profit organization that grants money to artists in multiple disciplines, announced its 2012 USA Fellows, including Guild members David Henry Hwang, Adrienne Kennedy, and Marcus Gardley.
Each year, “United States Artists honors 50 of America’s finest artists with individual fellowship awards,” according to the organization. Here are the 2012 Fellows in the Theater Arts division, with descriptions provided by United States Artists:
David Henry Hwang, 2012 USA Donnelley Fellow in Theater Arts, is currently the playwright-in-residence at Signature Theatre Company in New York City. He is probably best known as the author of M. Butterfly, which won the Tony, Drama Desk, John Gassner, and Outer Critics Circle Awards (1988) and was nominated as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (1989). Although he is known as the premier Asian American dramatist, Hwang has had a varied career, including as the most-produced living opera librettist and the author of a story about the life of the Spanish playwright/poet Federico García Lorca. Hwang’s Yellow Face (2007) is a biting comedy about cultural identity in which a playwright inadvertently casts a white actor in the Asian lead role. The play received an Obie Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (2008).
Adrienne Kennedy, 2012 USA Women With Plans Fellow in Theater Arts, is a preeminent playwright, whose works confront issues of race and violence in American society. She appeared on the Off-Broadway theatre scene in 1964 with her Obie Award-winning play, Funnyhouse of a Negro, which was selected for the Black Norton Anthology. Kennedy has been hailed as one of the first African American playwrights to use avant-garde modes such as non-linear structure and surrealism. She is the recipient of three Obie Awards, including one for lifetime achievement (2008), as well as numerous other honors.
Marcus Gardley, 2012 USA James Baldwin Fellow in Theater Arts, says that he writes ‘epic plays.’ His works have included the story of an African American transvestite during the Civil War and a trilogy about a tribe of half-black, half-native American people who incorporated the first all-black town in the U.S. His play every tongue confess (2010) was nominated for both the Steinberg New Play Award and the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play and received the Edgerton New Play Award. Gardley is a visiting lecturer at Brown University.
Other 2012 USA Fellows in Theatre Arts include John Kelly, Annie-B Parson, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and Robbie McCauley.
For more information about the work of United States Artists, visit usafellows.org.
The Donald Windham – Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes
Yale University President Richard C. Levin announced the establishment of The Donald Windham – Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes. The prizes, which will be administered by Yale, are funded by a significant bequest from noted American writer Donald Windham, who died on May 31, 2010, at the age of 89. In his will, Windham also donated the remainder of his literary estate to Yale, completing a collection that was initiated with his original gift to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1989.
The program will award seven to nine prizes annually, in fiction and non-fiction categories. In addition to the prestige the prizes will bestow on recipients, Windham wished to ensure that the prizes would be substantial enough to enable each recipient to spend a full year writing, unencumbered by financial concerns.
In making the announcement, Levin said, “It is our hope and expectation that the prizes, together with the collection of the author’s papers that are already a treasured part of Yale’s Beinecke Library holdings, will draw deserved attention to Donald Windham’s literary accomplishments and preserve them for years to come.”
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1920, Windham spent most of his adult life in New York. His fiction works and memoirs are noted for their portraits of mid-twentieth-century literary and artistic life in the city. With the young Tennessee Williams, he collaborated in writing the play You Touched Me, based on a D.H. Lawrence short story, which opened on Broadway in 1945.
Windham is perhaps best known for his memoirs, which include Emblems of Conduct (1964), about his early life in Atlanta, Tennessee Williams, Letters to Donald Windham, 1940-1965 (1977), the publication of which caused a rift between the two men, and Lost Friendships (1987) an account of his friendships with Capote and Williams.
The Donald Windham – Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale honor both Windham and his longtime partner, a Princeton undergraduate he met in 1943, who published the first editions of many of his books through his press, the Stamperia Valdonega in Verona, Italy.
There are no applications. Nominees are recommended by a group of nominators chosen for their expertise in the literary field and for their specific knowledge of the category under consideration.
From approximately twenty nominations, a three-person prize jury in each category selects a five-name shortlist.
A nine-person selection committee chooses the prize winners from the shortlists. The selection committee annually awards up to three prizes per category.
To reduce outside influence on the selection process, names of nominees, nominators, jurors and non-lifetime selection committee members are not released. Only the names of the prize winners are made public.
The inaugural selection process is currently underway. The first prizes are expected to be announced early in March of 2013.
KELLY STUART WINS ADAA’S SAROYAN PRIZE
New York playwright Kelly Stuart won the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA)’s 3rd Biennial William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting for her play, Belonging to the Sky. The grand prize was announced and presented at ADAA’s memorable awards event on Saturday, December 8, 2012, at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Belonging to the Sky is a lyrical duet of monologues between Sabiha Gökçen (Ataturk’s adopted daughter) and assassinated journalist Hrant Dink, and their tragic historical connection. Stuart teaches playwriting at Columbia University and has traveled nine times to Turkey and speaks Turkish.
The prize was awarded by Hank Saroyan, the nephew of William Saroyan and Emmy-winning director of Saroyan’s The Parsley Garden. ADAA’s William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting, for plays on Armenian themes, is made possible by a grant from the William Saroyan Foundation, with additional funding from Gagosian Galleries.
The winner was selected by this year’s Honorary Jury of renowned theatre artists: playwright Catherine Filloux (Dog and Wolf), playwright/screenwriter Eduardo Machado (Floating Islands), and Artistic Director/actress Gates McFadden (Star Trek).
The next biennial Saroyan Prize deadline will be April 1, 2014. Next year, ADAA will sponsor the Paul Screenwriting Awards for screenplays on Armenian themes, with a deadline of April 1, 2013.
ADAA’s mission is to project the Armenian voice on the world stage through the arts of theatre and film. It accomplishes this through two writing contests, play readings, the Boston Armenian Film Festival, various networking events, and the pre-eminent Armenian performing arts website in the world, www.armeniandrama.org.
Finalists Announced for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History
Columbia University Libraries, on behalf of the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, announced the five finalist plays for works produced for the first time in 2012. This is the first group of finalists to be named by the prize board:
• All the Way, written by Robert Schenkkan and produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon
• The Body of an American, written by Dan O’Brien and produced at the Portland Center Stage in Portland, Oregon
• Hurt Village, written by Katori Hall and produced at the Signature Theatre in New York
• Party People, written by UNIVERSES and produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon
• Rapture, Blister, Burn, written by Gina Gionfriddo and produced at Playwrights Horizons in New York.
Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith created the prize to honor the life and legacy of her late brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Finalists were selected through nominations from a group of twenty theatre professionals around the country. The jury will meet at Columbia in early February 2013. The first recipient of the prize will be announced on his birthday, February 22. The winning play will receive an award and will be honored in a ceremony at Columbia on March 4.
Signature Theatre Welcomes Branden Jacobs-Jenkins to the Residency Five Program
Signature Theatre (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) is pleased to announce that Martha Clarke and Guild member Branden Jacobs-Jenkins have joined the Residency Five program, which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights, guaranteeing three full productions of new work over the course of each playwright’s residency. Other artists currently in the Residency Five program include Guild members Annie Baker, Will Eno, Katori Hall, and Regina Taylor.
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a Brooklyn-based playwright and dramaturg. His newest play, Appropriate, premieres at the Humana Festival in March 2013, and his play Neighbors will receive its UK Premiere at the Hightide Festival in May 2013. His work has been seen at the Public Theater, PS122, Soho Rep, The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, CompanyOne in Boston, Theater Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany and the National Theatre in London. He is a Usual Suspect and a former New York Theatre Workshop Playwriting fellow, an alum of the Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab, the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, and Ars Nova Play Group. His honors include a Princess Grace Award, the Dorothy Strelsin Playwriting Fellowship, the Paula Vogel Award, two residencies with the Sundance Theatre Lab, and a fellowship in playwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He holds an M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU and is working on commissions from Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Residency Five is the first program of its kind in the American theatre; going far beyond the traditional commissioning or workshop models, the program enables a diverse community of playwrights to build bodies of work. Residency Five playwrights receive a significant cash award, full health benefits, a stipend to attend theatre, access to Signature’s resources and staff, and like all of our playwrights, a place at the center of the artistic process.
Center for the Theatre Commons at Emerson College announces residency grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Center for the Theatre Commons (CTC) in the Office of the Arts at Emerson College announces its participation, along with fourteen theaters, in an initiative that will enhance the participation of playwrights on the staffs of theater companies throughout the country, funded by a group of grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Theatres were invited to apply with particular playwrights in mind, and recipients were chosen in consultation with a panel of leading artists and practitioners. CTC at Emerson College is documenting the impact and outcomes of the initiative, and will attempt to make the results a real-time experience for the field of theatre. They will do this by using their own existing tools (HowlRound.com, the New Play Map, #NEWPLAY TV, and the #newplay tag on Twitter). They will also collect and disseminate information through a regular program of retreats, where they will gather the artists, producers, and artistic directors, and using the tools of the CTC, amplify the impact of these gatherings nationally. All of the artists will also be in short-term residencies in Boston at Emerson College.
As part of the residencies, CTC will hire and deploy freelance Commons Producers around the country, collectively charged with overseeing the content for CTC’s documentation and dissemination platforms. These individual producers will both track the activity happening in the communities, institutions, and organizations that receive Mellon support, and help CTC develop the role of the individual commons producer as an essential ingredient for the health of the American theatre in the 21st century. CTC will also administer the distribution of modest discretionary grants directly to the playwrights, which may be used for developmental activities.
According to CTC Director Polly Carl, “As a longtime advocate for playwrights, I’m delighted that we have been charged with shepherding the impact of these residencies for the field. The Commons is a place to track and study innovative initiatives that we hope will lead to a healthier environment for artists interested in making theatre. The idea that we will have Commons Producers and playwrights in fourteen theatres sharing work, practice, and ideas with the field is really thrilling. Transparency, access and collaboration are 21st Century values that are critical to the future relevance of our art form.”
“Emerson College is delighted to play a role in this important and ambitious initiative,” said President Lee Pelton. “As a leading institution of higher education in communication and the arts, Emerson is the perfect home for Center for the Theatre Commons, and by extension, a grateful partner with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and these fourteen theatres. It’s an honor to be part of an initiative that will continue to move theatre into the 21st century.”
The following Guild members will join the staff of the listed organization below for three years: David Adjmi, Soho Repertory Theatre, New York City; Luis Alfaro, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR; Pearl Cleage, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA; Marcus Gardley, Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago, IL; Nathan Louis Jackson, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City, MO; Melinda Lopez, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA; Julie Marie Myatt, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA; Peter Nachtrieb, Z Space, San Francisco, CA; Kira Obolensky, Ten Thousand Things, Minneapolis, MN; Robert O’Hara, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington D.C.; Will Power, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, TX.