NEW YORK CITY: The Playwrights Realm announced in May that it would transition into a full-time playwrights service organization for its 2020-21 season, helping playwrights maintain their practices with creative and financial support. Rather than pivot its productions to socially distant or digital productions, the Realm will use funds that had been earmarked for 2020-21 productions to instead support playwright services structured around the needs of the Realm’s playwrights. Though the shift was announced months ago, the Realm has now introduced a slate of new initiatives aimed at supporting playwrights in place of a season announcement.
Virtual Realm, for example, will be an online mentorship program led by associate artistic director Alexis Williams. Chosen mentees will received personalized mentorship, professional development, and industry connections as part of virtual resources designed to accelerate their careers. This year’s mentees are Diane Exavier, Marvin González De León, Grace McLeod, and Haygen-Brice Walker.
The Realm is also partnering with law firm Dyer Harris LLP to present the new International Theatermakers Award, which gives three immigrant theatre artists chosen by a panel of experts no-cost O-1B artist visa applications—an application that, according to a release from the Realm, can cost thousands of dollars. April Harris and Kevin Dyer of Dyer Harris LLP will also lead a series of free informational panels on U.S. artist visa and green card application processes. The panels will be open to the public.
The organization will also be expanding its community support programs by offering free online community classes, workshops, and panels led by the Realm’s playwrights, staff, and industry professionals. Programs will cover a variety of topics, including honing play submission skills, self-producing, budgeting, and artistic career planning. Williams and general manager Céline Delcayre will curate.
The Realm is also providing former Realm writing fellows, Scratchpad, and alumni writers—now under the banner of Realm Playwrights—with discretionary disaster relief funding based on needs. In addition to the monetary support, Realm Playwrights will be offered artistic support for their work, including readings and events with industry professionals.
Francisca Da Silveira, Phillip Christian Smith, May Treuhaft-Ali, and Omar Vélez Meléndez have been selected from 400 applications to be the Realm’s new writing fellows. The four will be in residence during the season and featured in the Realm’s 2021 INK’D Festival of New Plays.
The Scratchpad Series will also be adding new members. Preston Choi and Eliana Pipes, chosen from over 600 candidates, will receive a week-long developmental workshop for their work. Marisa Carr and Daria Miyeko Marinelli, who were unable to develop their work throughout the 2019-20 season due to the pandemic, will join Choi and Pipes for the 2020-21 season.
Additionally, Noah Diaz, who had Realm performances of his play Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally canceled due to COVID-19, will receive his full Page One residency benefits—including health insurance, internal readings, travel, and professional development funds—during the 2020-21 season.
“It’s a particularly tough time in the theatre right now,” said associate artistic director Alexis Williams in a statement, “and while we’re sad we won’t have any new productions this season, we’re so excited to welcome this larger, and thrilling, group of playwrights into the Realm Family. We can’t wait to further engage with them on their artistic and professional goals over the course of the season.”
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