American Shakespeare Center Names ‘Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries’

Works by Amy E. Witting and Mary Elizabeth Hamilton will be the first plays produced as part of the project.

STAUNTON, VA.: American Shakespeare Center (ASC) has announced the first two winners of “Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries,” an international playwriting competition established to create modern companion pieces to each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. The winners are Amy E. Witting’s Anne Page Hates Fun and Mary Elizabeth Hamilton’s 16 Winters or the Bear’s Tale.

The plays were selected through an anonymous blind reading process from a pool of nearly 200 submissions. Witting and Hamilton will each receive a cash prize of $25,000 and travel and housing in Staunton, Va., during the rehearsal and workshop periods of their plays. Launched in 2017, the competition called for submissions of works that drew inspiration from The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV, Part 1, The Comedy of Errors, or The Winter’s Tale.

“I could not be more thrilled to launch Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries with Anne Page Hates Fun and 16 Winters or the Bear’s Tale,” said ASC literary manager Anne G. Morgan in a statement. “These two stunning plays represent the strength of contemporary writing while also demonstrating the capacity of Shakespeare’s work for inspiration and provocation.”

Witting’s Anne Page Hates Fun will be paired with Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor as part of the 2019 Actors’ Renaissance season. Hamilton’s 16 Winters or the Bear’s Tale, partner to The Winter’s Tale, will premiere in the 2019 spring season.

Amy E. Witting.

Witting’s works include The House on the HillThe Midnight Ride of Sean & Lucy, and Day 392, among others. She is the recipient of a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship, an NEA Grant, and the Anne Freedman Grant. Witting is currently working under commission from the Queens Council on the Arts. She also serves as a teaching artist in the New York Public School System. She’s a member of the Dramatists Guild, an affiliated artist with National New Play Network, a member of Mission to Ditmars Propulsion Lab, and founder of aWe Creative Group. Witting earned her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College and her MFA in playwriting from Hunter College.

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton.

Hamilton’s other plays include We ThreeThe PlanOne of the Women, and The Quiet Ones. Hamilton is a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at the Juilliard School and a Jerome New York Fellow at the Lark. She is working on a commission from Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., and an NYSCAS commission through Page 73. Hamilton is a member of the Ars Nova Playgroup. She was the 2005-09 recipient of the Iowa Arts Fellowship and has participated in the O’Neill Theater Conference, Youngblood, I-73, New Georges’ the Jam, and Play Penn. She earned an MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa.

Applications for the second round of “Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries” will be accepted from June 1 to Aug. 1, 2018. The Shakespeare titles in consideration will be OthelloHenry IVPart 2A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Cymbeline.