NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, is pleased to announce the recipients of the first round of the 2017 Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards. The awards, totaling $359,000, allow 13 productions extra time for the development and rehearsal of new plays with the entire creative team, helping to extend the life of the play after its first run.
“Every year, we count on the Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards to introduce the field to important new plays,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “With the goal of giving these plays the best odds for productions beyond their premieres, Edgerton Foundation grants are helping deepen and expand the theatrical canon for the U.S. and beyond.”
The first round of 2017 awards went to Starstruck by Lucile Lichtblau at Alabama Shakespeare Festival; This Ain’t No Disco, music & lyrics by Stephen Trask & Peter Yanowitz, book by Rick Elice, at Atlantic Theater Company; The Agitators by Mat Smart at Geva Theatre Center; Fireflies by Matthew Barber at Long Wharf Theatre; This Flat Earth by Lindsey Ferrentino at Playwrights Horizons; The Treasurer by Max Posner at Playwrights Horizons; Willow Run by Jeff Duncan at the Purple Rose Theatre Company; Skintight by Joshua Harmon at Roundabout Theatre Company; Imperium by Mike Poulton at Royal Shakespeare Company; Curve of Departure by Rachel Bonds at South Coast Repertory; Little Black Shadows by Kemp Powers at South Coast Repertory; The Four Immigrants by Min Kahng at TheatreWorks; and Where Storms are Born by Harrison David Rivers at Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Over the last 11 years, the Edgerton Foundation has awarded $10,244,900 to 348 productions, enabling many plays to schedule subsequent productions following their world premieres. Twenty-five have made it to Broadway, including Curtains, 13, Next to Normal, 33 Variations, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Time Stands Still, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, A Free Man of Color, Good People, Chinglish, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Bronx Bombers, Casa Valentina, Outside Mullingar, All the Way, Eclipsed, Bright Star, Hamilton, The Columnist, In Transit, A Doll’s House Part 2, Indecent, Dear Evan Hansen, and Oslo. Fifteen plays were nominated for Tony Awards, with All the Way, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Oslo winning the best play or musical awards. Nine plays were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with wins for Hamilton (2016), The Flick (2014), Water by the Spoonful (2012), and Next to Normal (2010).
“When a show like Dear Evan Hansen achieves the success that is has, one can always trace back to some very fundamental support at the beginning,” said Edgar Dobie, executive director of Arena Stage. “Arena Stage is proud to have been a part of that fundamental support, but certainly the Edgerton Foundation plays an important role for this and so many other new plays. Not every new project will become Dear Evan Hansen or Oslo, but without the vital support of the Edgerton Foundation, many projects would never even get the chance to try. Because of this fundamental support, the Edgerton Foundation has a huge impact on American theatre as a field.”
Said André Bishop, producing artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, “Oslo is a three-hour, three-act play about the Oslo Peace Accords. It was an LCT commission, but it did not arrive fully written. Actually it began life not being written at all. Hours and hours of research that led to workshops that led to extended rehearsal periods for two separate productions at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. It has a large cast and 63 scenes. The help that the Edgerton Foundation gave us to support extended rehearsal time for the world premiere at the Newhouse was invaluable and necessary in both the development and the writing and the performing of this complex work.” The work paid off, as Bishop points out: “Oslo won every best play prize this spring, including the Tony Award,” and will go on to the National Theatre and then the West End in the fall, in addition being adapted into a film—all for “a play that was developed from an idea and a chance encounter with the two real-life leading characters. It was a long and slow development and rehearsal process and we are so grateful for the help the foundation gave us.”
“We have discovered that an extra week of rehearsal, well before the start of the scheduled rehearsal period, is invaluable,” said Geoffrey Sherman, producing artistic director, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. “It enables the establishment of a true dialogue between playwright, actors, and director, without the pressure of imminent exposure to an audience.”
The Edgerton Foundation New Plays Program, directed by Brad and Louise Edgerton, was piloted in 2006 with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles by offering two musicals in development an extended rehearsal period for the entire creative team, including the playwrights. The Edgertons launched the program nationally in 2007 and have supported 348 plays to date at over 50 different Art Theatres across the country.