ARLINGTON, VA.: Broadway producer Jenna Segal has teamed with Signature Theatre to create the Heidi Thomas Initiative Grant. The award, which is supported by the Jenna and Paul Segal Foundation, will sponsor a world premiere by a female playwright with a female director for the next five seasons at the theatre through SigWorks: The Heidi Thomas Writer’s Initiative. The first premiere is scheduled for the 2017-18 season.
“I’m thrilled Jenna shares our commitment to supporting the finest female artists working in theatre today,” said Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer in a statement. “Washington brought a national focus to the work of women playwrights with the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival, and it’s our job to not only continue it but expand it.”
The grant is named for screenwriter and playwright Heidi Thomas, who created the BBC series “Call the Midwife” and also penned the book for the revival of Gigi, which Schaeffer directed and Segal produced. “Female writers have so much to say, and all too often their voices are not heard,” said Heidi Thomas in a statement. “However, at Signature, Eric and Jenna have created a new and exciting platform for work entirely by women, where talent will not just be showcased, but also nurtured. I am proud beyond measure to be linked to this initiative, and support it with my whole heart.”
The grant will also help the playwrights land second and third productions of their plays by bringing artistic directors from around the country to Signature to see the plays and meet with the playwrights.
“These full productions are essential for women to hone their craft,” Segal said in a statement. “We hope the writers will draw inspiration from Heidi Thomas, whose writing across all media reminds us of the fundamental impact women’s works bring to the world.”