NEW YORK: Each year, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions plays with an emphasis on science and technology from the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. This year’s Manhattan Theatre Club Sloan commission awardees are playwrights J. Nicole Brooks, Diane Exavier, Franky D. Gonzalez, Charlie Oh, Kristin Slaney, and Else Went.
“As theatres begin to reopen their doors after a singularly challenging year, we are delighted to announce this exceptional lineup of newly commissioned playwrights,” said Scott Kaplan, Manhattan Theatre Club’s director of play development, in a statement. “We selected these artists due to their remarkable ability to interweave their thrilling artistic perspectives with urgent scientific and technological themes. We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for nearly 20 years of support for this unparalleled opportunity for playwrights to bring these pressing issues to exhilarating theatrical life.”
“We are proud to support these six new play commissions by six talented playwrights who propose to incorporate scientific themes and characters with originality and insight,” said Doron Weber, vice president and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in a statement. “The pathbreaking MTC/Sloan partnership of almost two decades has resulted in wonderful plays that have been produced in major theatres around the globe and transformed how we view both science and theatre.”
More about this year’s commissioned artists:
J. Nicole Brooks is an actor, author, director, and educator based in Chicago. Brooks’s writing spans playwriting, screenwriting, essays, and poetry. As a theatre artist, Brooks is an ensemble member and Mellon Foundation playwright in residence at the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. Upcoming writing projects and commissions include an adaptation of Eve L. Ewing’s 1919 for Steppenwolf Theatre, Rainbow Beach for Chicago Children’s Choir, Black Moon Lilith at Williamstown, and various audio and screenplays in development. Honors include TCG Fox Foundation, 3Arts, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Kilroys List, and the 2021 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for Her Honor Jane Byrne.
Diane Exavier is a writer, theatremaker, and educator. Rooted in the Caribbean diaspora, Exavier’s work explores love, loss, legacy, and land. Intersecting performance and poetry, her work has been presented at BRIC Arts, Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, and more. Diane is a 2021 Jerome Hill artist fellow finalist. Her book-length lyric The Math of Saint Felix is forthcoming from the 3rd Thing Press in 2021. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Charlie Oh is a playwright, lyricist, and actor. He is a fellow at the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. His work has been developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, NYC Songspace, the Brooklyn Generator, and Catwalk Writer’s Residency. His play Long won the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting, placed second for the Mark Twain Prize for Comedic Playwriting, and was a 2019 honorable mention for the American Playwriting Foundation’s Relentless Award. He is a winner of the Disney/NMI 2018 New Voices Project, and The Craig Carnelia Songwriting Award.
Franky D. Gonzalez is a Latino playwright based out of Dallas and Los Angeles. His work has appeared with the Lark, the Sundance Institute, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Latinx Playwrights Circle, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Goodman Theatre, the New Harmony Project, Repertorio Español, LAByrinth Theater Company, Ars Nova, and Dallas Theater Center, among others. Gonzalez was also a staff writer on 13 Reasons Why season four, and was most recently named the 4 Seasons Resident Playwright, a Sony Pictures Television Diverse Writers Program fellow, a Playwrights Center core writer, and the playwright-in-residence of the Bishop Arts Theatre Center.
Kristin Slaney is a playwright and screenwriter, originally from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, currently based in Brooklyn. Her plays include Hockey Messiah, King of Berlin, Let’s Hex the President, and After Eepersip Disappeared, among others. Kristin is an alum of EST’s Obie Award-winning playwriting group Youngblood.
Else Went is a Brooklyn-based playwright and current member of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. Their work has been previously developed with the Tank, International Shakespeare Center, and the Brick. Went was formerly a fellow at MacDowell, Playwrights Realm, and Trans Theatre Lab @ WP & the Public. Went’s previous commissions come from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation & MTC, Parity Productions, Weston Playhouse, Period Piece, and Florida Studio Theatre. Went has also received residencies from Stillwright and Barn Arts Collective. They’re a semifinalist for ASC’s Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries (Courage!) and the O’Neill Conference (Initiative), and the co-founder and playwright of the Renovationists. They also work as a sound designer.
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