SEATTLE: Seattle Rep has announced a second round of its playwright commission project 20×30: Reimagining the Anthropocene, adding three playwrights to the ranks of five previously commissioned artists in “planting seeds for the future of the industry.” The newly commissioned playwrights include Pulitzer finalist Amy Freed, Julia Izumi, and Benjamin Benne.
That brings the total of commissioned playwrights in the 20×30 program to eight, leaving 12 more commissions to go between now and 2030, in a 10-year initiative to garner plays “inspired by life in our moment.” The term “Anthropocene” refers to a new geological age in which human activity is the dominant force shaping our environment. The goal of the project is to engage a diverse group of artists around the idea of the Anthropocene during what promises to be a pivotal and transformational decade for our nation and world.
“It struck me that interpreting this ‘age of the humans’ would contain a lot of creative possibilities for theatremakers,” said artistic director Braden Abraham in a statement. “But we’ve entered a time of wide agreement that the repercussions of climate change are inescapable—economically, politically, and ontologically. We need new stories, new forms of communication, a different understanding of how we think about our relationship to the planet and toward one another.”
The first round of 20×30 commissions included Nathan Alan Davis, Larissa FastHorse, Zora Howard, Sylvia Khoury, and Mary Kathryn Nagle.
Freed was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for her play Freedomland. Her work has been produced at American Conservatory Theater, Cal Shakes, South Coast Repertory, New York Theatre Workshop, the Goodman Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and others. She has received the Joseph Kesselring Prize, the Charles MacArthur Award, and multiple Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. A professor at Stanford University, Freed is currently under commission with Aurora Theatre Company for the Global Age Project new works festival.
Izumi’s work has been developed and presented at Manhattan Theatre Club, Clubbed Thumb, WP Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists’ National Asian-American Theatre ConFest, among others. She has been a finalist for the O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwriting Conference and Kilroys List honorable mention and is the recipient of the Darrell Ayers Playwriting Award and the OPC Dr. Kerry English Award. Izumi is currently under commission with True Love Productions, Playwrights Horizons, and MTC’s Sloan Initiative.
Benne is an MFA candidate at the David Geffen Yale School of Drama and is a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages. His work has been developed by Playwrights Realm, the Lark, the Public Theater, the O’Neill, Roundabout Theatre Company, the Denver Center, and others. He is the recipient of the Portland Stage Clauder Competition Prize, Arizona Theatre Company’s Latinx Playwriting Award, American Blues Theater’s Blue Ink Playwriting Award, and others, and was a 2017-18 McKnight Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. Benne is currently under commission with South Coast Repertory and has 2022 productions planned at Mosaic Theater Company, Center Theatre Group, ArtsWest, and American Blues Theater.
In addition to the 20×30 commissions, Seattle Rep recently received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation to fund three commissions from emerging writers. The 2022 commissioned writers include Vickie Ramirez, Vivian J.O. Barnes, and Nick Malakhow.
Seattle Rep collaborates with artists to create productions and programs that reflect and elevate the diverse cultures, perspectives, and life experiences of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Rep is committed to supporting new work from playwrights, directors, composers, and more through commissions and its new play development lab.
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