ATLANTA: Actor’s Express (AE) has launched a new-play commissioning program that focuses on Atlanta-based playwrights, which will, each year over the next five, commit a playwright to write a new full-length play and offer development resources over the course of the following year. The first writer to receive a full-length commission is Quinn Xavier Hernandez.
“This process is a huge step for me,” said Hernandez in a statement. Though they’ve had several small commissions from AE before, their first full-length commission “is an absolutely massive and incredible part of my career already. The fact that I get to write it for a company that has poured so much into me already is just amazing. I recognize as an early-career playwright that this is just the start, but oh wow, how excited I am to continue writing and growing both with AE and beyond!”
AE aims to become a home for new-play development with the goal to support local Atlanta artists while inviting patrons to experience the development process. This new-play commissioning process, which will include workshops, as well as public and private readings, will be led by AE artistic director Freddie Ashley and National New Play Network producer-in-residence Amanda Washington, with support from managing director Alex Scollon.
“I believe one of the best ways to support the local playwriting community is to invest directly in it,” said Ashley in a statement. “This is why all of our commission projects will center Atlanta-based writers. Commissioning offers a way to pay writers directly to create new stories and bring them to life. Atlanta’s playwriting community is brimming with talent and new ideas. AE has been expanding our commitment to the local playwriting community for the past several years.”
In the same statement, development director Natalie Holly said, “As we strengthen our commitment to inclusive and ethical representation across all layers of our organization, the focus will be on People of the Global Majority, women, and LGBTQIA+ playwrights, and intersectional experiences. Additionally, we will focus on early- to mid-career writers.”
AE has commissioned playwrights for other projects, including its recent project Amplify: Podcast Plays from Actor’s Express. For its first installment of Amplify, 2021’s Crossroads, AE commissioned writers Natasha Patel, Avery Sharpe, Skye Passmore, Kayla Parker, Quinn Xavier Hernandez and Amina S. McIntyre. The theatre recently launched Season 2 of Amplify with a new story, Tucker’s Cove, written by Atlanta writers Kayla Parker and Sofia Palmero.
“When the pandemic forced us to explore digital platforms to deliver our programming, we discovered that podcasting is a perfect fit for us,” Ashley said. “It offers us the opportunity to take our work outside of our doors and connect directly with audiences where they are, and in a free format no less. To further deepen this investment in our local writers, we have made the commitment to center Atlanta-based writers and performers in all Amplify podcasts.”
These new initiatives join an existing annual commission for a new play to be performed as a showcase for the theatre’s resident Apprentice Company. Moving forward, this annual commission will also be given to a local writer. Playwright Annie Harrison Elliott is currently writing the showcase play for the 2022 Apprentice Company.
Since its founding in 1988, Actor’s Express has aimed to be a hub for dynamic, provocative, and consistently outstanding theatre in Atlanta, presenting work that sparks personal transformations and catalyzes community conversations.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!