NEW YORK CITY: Jeremy O. Harris and New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) have announced the creation of the Golden & Ruth Harris Commission, which will offer two $50,000 commissions for new theatrical works and allow the recipient to “dream expansively and extensively” about their project while working to relieve part of the pressure to seek other income during the commissioning year.
“At the core of my practice is the belief that the work of being a playwright is in community building,” said Harris, whose play Slave Play received its world premiere with NYTW, in a statement. “My grandparents, Golden and Ruth, always modeled charity and generosity within their community. Moreover, their generosity to me is the only reason I was able to write my first plays. Hopefully this commission can do the same for other artists and the theatre that gave me my first significant opportunities in the American theatre. In this moment of global unrest and unprecedented stasis for world theatre, my hope is that this can model for our community and our government a method to radically invest in the future of our medium.”
The inaugural commissions will be awarded to two Black women artists. One of these generative artists will be someone who has yet to have an Off-Broadway production, and the other will be someone who has made a significant impact early in their artistic pursuits, but who has not had adequate support of late. Nominations for the commissions will be submitted over the next several months, with the nominees then submitting proposals to an independent panel of artists. After review, finalists will be submitted to Harris and NYTW who will then select the recipients.
“Jeremy is an artist, a spirit, unlike any other,” said NYTW artistic director James C. Nicola in a statement. “Not only is he ablaze with imagination and inspiration in the convention-shattering work he makes himself, but he is also equally compelled to reinvent the art form. In this new world that he is commanding to materialize, the fight for the common good of the artists that dwell there is at the very core of his efforts. With this initiative he has created, he enlists NYTW to become his partner in not just generously supporting theater-makers, but also in building a new paradigm of theater itself.”
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