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Guggenheim Announces 2020 Fellows, Including 5 Theatre Artists

Celebrated playwrights and a legendary dramaturg make up this year’s class of theatre fellows.

NEW YORK CITY: The board of trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a group of 175 writers, scholars, artists, and scientists, five of which are in the fields of Drama and Performance Art and Theatre Arts. 

“It’s exceptionally encouraging to be able to share such positive news at this terribly challenging time,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation, in a statement. “A Guggenheim Fellowship has always offered practical assistance, helping fellows do their work, but for many of the new fellows, it may be a lifeline at a time of hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one. As we grapple with the difficulties of the moment, it is also important to look to the future. The artists, writers, scholars, and scientific researchers supported by the fellowship will help us understand and learn from what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the foundation to help them do their essential work.”

The 2020 fellows, chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants, include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Ethan Lipton, Tina Satter, Lloyd Suh, and Anne Cattaneo. 

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a writer and theatre artist whose plays include Everybody (Signature Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), and War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater). A Residency Five playwright at the Signature Theatre as well as a 2020 USA Artists Fellow, his recent honors include the MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award.

Tonya Pinkins in “War” at Yale Repertory Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Ethan Lipton is a Brooklyn-based playwright, songwriter, and singer. His musicals No Place to Go and The Outer Space were produced by the Public Theater in Joe’s Pub, and other published plays include Luther (HERE), Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb Summerworks Festival), and Red-Handed Otter (Playwright’s Realm). As a playwright, Lipton has been an Alpert Prize Fellow at MacDowell, a member of the Public’s Emerging Writers Group and SPACE at Ryder Farm’s Working Farm, and a Playwright’s Realm Page One Fellow.

Tina Satter is a writer and director for theatre and film whose Off-Broadway debut Is This a Room recently closed at Vineyard Theatre. She is the artistic director of Half Straddle, where she’s written and directed 10 plays presented in the United States and abroad, and the curator and designer of Here I Go, pt. 2 of You (The Kitchen). Recent honors include a Pew Fellowship in 2019, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award in 2016, and a Doris Duke Impact Award in 2014.

Lloyd Suh is the author of plays including The Chinese Lady (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (Soho Rep), and American Hwangap. He is a resident playwright of New Dramatists, a Lifetime Member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Actors Studio, and an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Additionally, he is the recipient of a 2016 Helen Merrill Award from the New York Community Trust and the 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Since 2015, he has served as a member of the Dramatists Guild Council. 

“The Chinese Lady” by Lloyd Suh, at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Pictured: Lisa Helmi Johanson. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Anne Cattaneo is the dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater, co-executive editor of the Lincoln Center Theater Review and the creator and head of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors’ Lab. Her translations of 20th Century German playwrights include Bertolt Brecht’s The Life of Galileo (Goodman Theatre), Botho Strauss’ Big and Little (Phoenix Theater), and Ernst Jandl’s From the Frontier (Guthrie Theater). She has received the Margo Jones Medal, Juilliard’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and, after serving three terms as president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, received their first Lessing Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dramaturgy.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and other internationally recognized honors. Created by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the foundation has sought since its inception to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.”

Past Guggenheim fellows include Lynn NottageDavid Henry Hwang, and Terrence McNally.

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