NEW YORK: Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have announced their 2019-20 EST/Sloan Project commissioned plays and playwrights. The new works about science and technology will be produced and developed with EST.
This year’s commissions include Stephen Brown’s The Informants, which follows East German scientists developing new camera lenses; Cusi Cram’s Amaru, the story of an indigenous community that may have the cure for dementia; Susan Eve Haar’s Genetic Perfection, which explores the implications of gene alteration; Justice Hehir’s FreePlay, which follows friends who run a sex toy company; Amanda Keating’s with fellowship, the story of female scientists in Germany studying the fossilized teeth of medieval monastics; Mona Pirnot’s Offshore Clinical Trials, about a homemade herpes vaccine administered at a beach house; Kristin Slaney’s Miss Mitchell, a musical about the life of Maria Mitchell, the first female professional astronomer in the U.S., with music by Alex Grubbs and Tommy Crawford of The Lobbyists; Judy Tate’s Blood Feud, which explores the life and tragic death of Charles Drew, a Black surgeon who invented the blood bank; a play by Melisa Tien about two women developing the first menstruation tracking app; and Anna Ziegler and Matt Schatz’s The Honoree, which asks if one has to be a good person to be a good scientist.
Additionally, the EST/Sloan Project’s National Partnership for New Plays awards grants to regional theatres to develop new or existing pieces on science and technology. This year’s grant recipients are Geva Theatre Center of Rochester, N.Y. for What Looks Like Pretty by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, a historical play about the science of color film; the Civilians of Brooklyn for What You Are Now by Sam Chanse, the story of a neuroscientist obsessed with fear and memory; and New York’s HB Playwrights Theatre for The Secret Life of Seaweed by Julie McKee, the story of two New Zealand women searching for seaweed amid the threat of Japanese invasion in 1941.
The EST/Sloan Project stimulates artists to create credible new works about science, technology, and economics that challenge popular culture stereotypes about scientists and engineers.