Cover art of The Before and After Issue: Two chickens - one facing left, the other facing right - each with an egg behind them
News Roundup: Jan/Feb 2020
a photo collage of a diverse group of writers

The Guild Launches New Podcast

New York, NY – On October 21, the Guild celebrated the launch of its new podcast, TalkBack, at The Cutting Room.

TalkBack is a six-episode podcast series, co-produced by the DG’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and BOOM Integrated, and distributed by Broadway Podcast Network. The podcast entertains frank conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion; it asks the tough questions, and doesn’t have all the answers, but digs into dialogue that’s vital and messy and real.

Podcast host Christine Toy Johnson led a brief panel, comprised of podcast guests Kia Corthron, Anita Hollander, and Lynne Marie Rosenberg, that addressed the significance of TalkBack’s mission.

“The overarching goal for all of this is to be a conversation starter,” Johnson stated. “We are sent so many messages that we don’t belong in the world, that we’re not invited. Having these conversations helps me to feel that I do belong.”

Many of the podcast guests agree with Johnson about the importance of having such conversations. “It was such a pleasure to be in a room with other professionals I admire and love, but with whom I never had a chance to talk about these issues before,” said Lynne Marie Rosenberg, writer, actor, and host of Famous Cast Words, who participated in the fourth episode of TalkBack.

“We don’t often have a chance to sit down and have these conversations,” explained Garlia Cornelia Jones, a founder of a series for Black playwrights and a line producer at The Public Theater, who appears on the third episode of TalkBack. “More of these conversations need to take place.”

One of the podcast’s goals is for these conversations to lead to more empathy and engagement. “It’s important to understand and to ask questions and to engage,” added premiere podcast episode guest Anita Hollander, a writer, performer, and the National Chair of Performers with Disabilities for SAG-AFTRA.

The conversations that occurred in the first season of the podcast explored writing outside of one’s lived experience, diverse and inclusive casting, contemporary theatrical criticism, and more. Next season, according to producer Amy VonMacek, the podcast will investigate the theme of access, and all that entails.

TalkBack is available for free download at


Guild Members Honored at 47th Annual AUDELCO Awards

New York, NY – The “VIV” Awards were presented by the Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) at their 47th Annual ceremony, where Council member Micki Grant received their prestigious Legacy Award and Ntozake Shange was posthumously recognized with the Board of Directors Award.

Guild member Larry Muhammed received Best Playwright for his play Looking for Leroy (New Federal Theatre/Castillo Theatre), which tied for Best Play with Guild member Nambi E. Kelley’s adaptation of Native Son (The Acting Company).

The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theater Company) adapted by Guild Council members Susan Birkenhead and Lynn Nottage, and DG member Duncan Sheik, was recognized as Best Musical.


The Guild Presents End of Play

New York, NY – Join your fellow playwrights across the country in creating a brand-new play (or revising an old one)! March 2020 is “End of Play” month. Set your goal at the beginning of the month. Goals may include writing a new full-length play/musical, two one act plays/musicals, or completing a second draft of any of the above. Post weekly updates to share your progress with the community and keep up with other people’s progress as well! At the end, participants will be invited to a party to celebrate writing. Ultimately, the goal of “End of Play”, is to get writers to the finish line through motivation, community and a party!

Please submit your interest to your local regional rep or ambassador. Included in your proposal should be your name, and some details about your new or revised play and whether it is a full length, two one acts, a play or musical and whether you would like to share your email with fellow writers to send each other notes of encouragement or ask for support.

You can find more information at:


2019 Fred Ebb Award Presented

New York, NY – DG member Benjamin Velez and Angela Scalafani received the 2019 Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting.

The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell Bernard, Trustee) in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) presents this annual award recognizing excellence in musical theatre songwriting, by a songwriter or songwriting team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. The award is meant to encourage and support aspiring songwriters to create new works for the musical theatre and includes a $60,000 award.


Dickerson-Despenza Awarded Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship

New York, NY – In November, the 2019 Princess Grace Awards Gala was held at The Plaza Hotel in New York. In the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Awards Gala was an evening of elegance and entertainment emceed by 2016 Princess Grace Statue Award Recipient, Leslie Odom, Jr.

DG member and former DGF Fellow, Erika Dickerson-Despenza (pictured above, left) received the Princess Grace 2019 Playwriting Fellowship, which includes a one-season artistic residency at New Dramatists.

Applications for the 2020 Playwriting Fellowship will be accepted from February 15 through March 15, 2020. To apply, visit


Lee Wins Outstanding New Play

Seattle, WA – DG Member Maggie Lee was awarded the 2019 Gregory Award for Outstanding New Play for her play Sheathed at the eleventh annual ceremony held October 28, 2019. The play was produced by Macha Theatre Works in Seattle, WA.

Lee’s plays include The Tumbleweed Zephyr, A Hand of Talons, Paper and Ink, and The Journey of the Bell.

The Gregory Awards are the only peer-judged theatre awards in the Seattle area, and are now recognized as the most significant theatre awards in the northwestern United States.


Simpson Wins Paula Vogel Playwriting Award

New York, NY – Vineyard Theatre’s Artistic Directors, Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern, announced that DG member Charly Evon Simpson is the recipient of the 2019-20 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.

Ms. Simpson’s plays include Behind the Sheet (NY Times Critic’s Pick), Jumpform of a girl unknown, it’s not a trip it’s a journey, and more.

Simpson is the twelfth recipient of the award, named in honor of playwright and teacher Paula Vogel, whose plays IndecentHow I Learned to Drive, (Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and The Long Christmas Ride Home premiered at The Vineyard. The residency-based award is given each year to an emerging writer of exceptional promise and comes with a cash prize and artistic development support.


Flux Theatre Ensemble’s New Creative Partners

New York, NY – DG member Jason Tseng has joined the Flux Theatre Ensemble as a Creative Partner. “I owe so much of who I am as a playwright and theatre artist to Flux Theatre Ensemble,” said Jason. “Over the past ten years, I’ve grown from an assistant costume designer on Flux’s production of The Lesser Seductions of History to being a playwright when Flux produced my play, Rizing. I have long admired this ensemble’s dedication to craft, community, and creativity. I am so honored to be invited to be an ensemble member of a theatre company I have held in such high esteem for so long.”

In Flux’s equitable organizational structure, all Creative Partners serve as artistic and executive directors through a non-hierarchical, consensus-based leadership model. This practice of collective leadership presents an alternative way to create and produce theatre outside of traditional hierarchical models. Flux’s innovative approach to making theatre has been honored with a Caffé Cino Fellowship Award, a Fractured Atlas Arts Entrepreneurship Award, and been featured in HowlRound. Collectively, Flux and its Creative Partners have been nominated for over 20 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, winning six.



A name was inadvertently left out of a listing on page 72 of the November/December Dramatists Diary. The listing should have read:

The Pledge book and lyrics by Mark Evan Chimsky, music by Zev Burrows. James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.