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Playwrights Realm Announces 2018-19 Writing Fellows

Bleu Beckford-Burrell, Sarah Einspanier, Keelay Gipson, and Else C. Went will serve 9-month fellowships at the New York City company.

NEW YORK CITY: Playwrights Realm has announced its 2018-19 Writing Fellows. The fellowship offers playwrights creative and professional support, a $3,000 stipend, and a reading presented in the INK’D Festival of New Work. This year’s fellows, selected from a pool of 400 applicants, are Bleu Beckford-Burrell, Lyons Pride; Sarah Einspanier, I LOVE SEAN; Keelay Gipson, #NewSlaves; and Else C. Went, Saving Throw.

“I’m thrilled by the talented and thoughtful Writing Fellows we are working with this season,” said founding artistic director Katherine Kovner in a statement. “Each of them has a truly unique voice yet they are all tackling timely and compelling themes. From Keelay’s examination of the NFL’s commodification of black male bodies, to Sarah’s exploration of ‘The Bachelor’s effect on female friendships, expectations, and fantasies, to Bleu’s tale of a Jamaican family’s struggles in America, to Else’s high school Dungeon & Dragons group striving to figure out their identities—in the game and real life.  I am honored to have them join the Realm family, and I have no doubt they will become vibrant new voices in the American Theatre.”

Bleu Beckford-Burrell.

Beckford-Burrell is a first-generation Jamaican American actor and playwright. Her plays include P.S. 365, Lyons Pride, and La Race, among others. Her work has been presented as part of EST’s One-Act Play Festival, brunch series, Bloodwork reading series, and the National BlackTheatre’s Keep the Soul Alive reading series. She is the 2018 Yale Drama Series Award runner up and a member of New Georges 2019 the Jam Director-Playwright Lab. She is a former member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood program and was a 2017 Page73 summer resident. She received an M.F.A. in Acting from Rutgers University.

Einspanier is a playwright from Dallas. Her plays include I LOVE SEAN, The Convent of Pleasure (Cherry Lane’s Mentor Project with Sheila Callaghan), House Plant (Horton Foote Scholar at Sewanee Writers’ Conference with Naomi Iizuka), and MADONNA col BAMBINO created with composer Deepali Gupta and director Caitlin Sullivan (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest and the New Ohio’s Ice Factory, curated by New Georges). Her play Lunch Bunch will be presented as part of Clubbed Thumb’s Winterworks festival. Her work has also been developed and presented by Ars Nova’s Play Group, Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers’ Group, the New Georges Jam, a New Georges Special Residency, New York Theatre Workshop’s Mondays @ 3, and Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Directing Studio.  Einspanier has been a resident at the Millay Colony, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Stratford New Works Lab, and has participated in Erik Ehn’s annual Texas Silent Writing Retreat.

Keelay Gipson is an activist, teaching artist, and playwright whose plays include #NewSlaves (Finalist, the O’Neill,), CRH, or the placenta play (semi-finalist at the O’Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Conference, AADA Main Stage Live!), Nigger/Faggot (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), The Lost (Or, How to Just Be), What I Tell You in the Dark (Premiere Stages Finalist), and Mary/Stuart, a dramatic queering of friederich schiller’s classic play (BAM Next Wave Festival, partnership with Wendy’s Subway and Lambda Literary). He is the recipient of the Van Lier Fellowship  at New Dramatists, as well as writing fellowships with Lambda Literary, the Amoralists, Page 73, and the Dramatist Guild Foundation.  He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of New York, the Administration of Children’s Services of the City of New York, and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse. His work has been developed and presented at Wild Project, HERE Arts Center, Pace University, National Black Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights’ Theater, the Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop. He is published in “The Best American Short Plays” anthology by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books and 48 Hours in Harlem, Vol. 3 by Harlem9.

Else C. Went  is a co-founder of the Renovationists and current member of Trans Theatre Lab. Their plays include They Stay Together, Old Names for Wildflowers, Courage! To the Field!, Three Seconds, Saving Throw, Boxcar, The Great American Folksong, and The Tarantists. Went’s work has been produced and developed by Trans Lab at the Public and WP, the Tank, the Brick, the Flea, Living Room Theatre, and Parity Productions. They were a recipient of 2017 Parity Productions’ commission for women and transgender playwrights, and a finalist for the Public’s Emerging Writers Group, Ingram Works New Play Lab at Nashville Rep, and Scratchpad Series at Playwright’s Realm. Went was a semi-finalist for the Ars Nova Play Group and for Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries at American Shakespeare Center initiative. They received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

The finalists include Ricardo Pérez González’s, Fish; Elisabeth Frankel, 2076; Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Laid to Rest; J. Julian Christopher, Bruise & Thorn; Jessica Huang, Zero-Infinity Flight Path; Amy Berryman, The New Galileos, and Charly Evon Simpson, form of a girl unknown. Semi-finalists include Raquel Almazan, Café; Kari Bentley-Quinn, The Diver, Nathan Dame, Certain Tragic Events; Katja Gottlieb-Stier, Human Animal; Trish Harnetiaux, Bender and Brian; Amina Henry, The Great Novel; Monet Hurst-Mendoza, Torera; Divya Mangwani, the cow swallows its tale; and Andrew Rosendorf, Mermaid.

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