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The State of the Play: An AT Live Conversation at Signature Theatre

Lucas Hnath, Robert O’Hara, Leigh Silverman, and Alexis Williams are panelists for this free discussion on the form and future of the American play.

NEW YORK CITY: American Theatre and Signature Theatre Company have announced the next event in their three-part panel series featuring discussions for both theatre practitioners and audiences. “The State of the Play” will be held at Signature Theatre on Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m.

In the last several years, more and more plays and playwrights have posed the question, “What is a play?” In shaking up the art form, writers have challenged audience members as well as themselves to think beyond traditional ideas of story, structure, and representation. With so many writers actively changing the landscape of theatre, how do we talk about the form as a whole? Can these trends be easily categorized, or do we find ourselves in new and uncharted territory? Come join us for this free discussion featuring a panel of exciting theatre artists including Lucas HnathRobert O’HaraLeigh Silverman and Alexis Williams, moderated by Signature’s Literary Manager Jenna Clark Embrey.

Signature’s literary manager Jenna Clark Embrey will moderate a discussion about how the forms and conditions of playwriting have changed in recent years, and what aesthetic and economic trends are driving these changes. Panelists will include playwright Lucas Hnath, playwright/director Robert O’Hara, Leigh Silverman, and producer Alexis Williams.

RSVP for the free event here. The audio from the event will be available at a later date as a podcast. Listen to the audio from the first Signature event dedicated to diversifying the American theatre here.

Hnath’s plays include Hillary and Clinton, Red Speedo, The Christians, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, Isaac’s Eye, and Death Tax. His work has been produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival of New Plays, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Gate Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Rep, Traverse Theatre, and Victory Gardens. He has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011. He is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. He has received the Kesselring Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award, two Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citations, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, and an Obie. His work is published by Dramatists Play Service and Overlook Press.

O’Hara has received the NAACP Best Director Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play two Obies and the Oppenheimer Award. He directed the world premieres of Nikkole Salter and Dania Guiria’s In the Continuum, Tarell McCraney’s The Brother/ Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild With Happy, Kirsten Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale, as well as his own plays Mankind,
Bootycandy
, and Insurrection: Holding History. His recent plays Zombie: The American and Barbecue world premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theater and New York Shakespeare Festival, respectively. His recent directing projects include Kirsten Childs’ Bubbly Black Girl at City Center/Encores Off Center, Universes’ Uni/Son, inspired by the poetry of August Wilson at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare’s Macbeth at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He holds a Directing MFA from Columbia University.

Silverman’s Broadway directing credits include Lifespan of a Fact; Violet (Tony nomination); Chinglish; Well. Off-Broadway: American Hero (2ST); Kung Fu (Signature Theatre); The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (Playwrights Horizon); The Call (Playwrights Horizons); The Madrid (MTCC); Golden Child (Signature Theatre); No Place to Go (Public Theater; Two River Theatre); In the Wake (Center Theatre Group/Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Public Theater, Obie Award, Lortel nomination); Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons, Obie Award); From Up Here (MTC, Drama Desk nomination); Yellow Face (Center Theatre Group/The Public Theater); Caroline (MCC/True Love); Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons); Well (The Public Theater; Huntington Theatre; ACT); Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Second Stage Theatre). Recent regional: The Heidi Chronicles (The Guthrie); American Hero (WTF); Chinglish (Goodman Theater, Jeff nomination; West Coast/Hong Kong tour).

Alexis Williams is associate artistic director of the Playwrights Realm in New York City. Previously she was an agent with Bret Adams Artists’ Agency, where she represented playwrights, directors, composers, designers, and choreographers. Before joining Bret Adams, Alexis worked at McCarter Theatre Center, Contemporary Stage Company, and served as literary manager for Detroit’s Planet Ant Theatre. In her time in the theatre she has worked as a director, a producer, a dramaturg, and a teaching artist. She has appeared on panels for the National New Play Network, the League of Professional Theatre Women, the NUEA, and the Musical Theatre Factory; has conducted roundtable discussions with the New School for Drama, InterAct’s Core Writer’s Group and Paragraph NY; and has served as a judge for the Strawberry Festival and the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival. In fall 2017 Alexis was named one of the Interval’s “Women To Watch.” Alexis is on the advisory board of SPACE on Ryder Farm, is an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

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