FRENCHTOWN, N.J.: ArtYard has selected TyLie Shider as the inaugural recipient of the ArtYard Playwright Fellowship. Shider will spend nine months in residency at ArtYard developing new work, working closely with ArtYard artistic and technical staff and guest theatre curator Deonté Griffin-Quick. In addition to housing and rehearsal space, fellows receive a $20,000 stipend and a $8,000 play development budget to workshop new plays with professional dramaturgs and actors.
“We created ArtYard’s new Playwright Fellowship because there are so few opportunities like it for mid-career playwrights and theatre artists, especially in New Jersey,” said Griffin-Quick in a statement. “I am excited to be part of this, because it is rooted in meeting the individual needs of the artist and builds long-term relationships between artists and ArtYard.”
The ArtYard Playwright Fellowship aims to support mid-career playwrights and theatre artists with financial and developmental support. It is a professional opportunity that recognizes and supports merit as well as the professional status of a mid-career playwright who demonstrates a sustained and consistent body of work. The fellowship is intended to help stabilize and accelerate the career of a mid-career playwright. It was modeled after similar programs offered by organizations such as the Playwrights Center, National Black Theatre, and Hi-Arts, and includes public engagements such as workshops or public readings, and culminates in a final showcase later this fall.
Shider is an American playwright, poet, and journalist who was born and raised in New Jersey and lives in Minneapolis. He was the inaugural playwright-in-residence at ArtYard in 2022 and is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center and an I Am Soul playwright-in-residence at the National Black Theatre.
Shider hosted a staged reading of his contemporary docudrama Whittier at ArtYard in May, at the end of his month-long residency. The play follows a diverse community of neighbors quarantined in Whittier, Minn., days after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The play is inspired by the graffiti, lawn signs, and murals created in protest of Floyd’s murder and is adapted from focus groups, interviews, and talks Shider conducted with neighbors, small business owners, and community leaders of faith during the 2020 uprisings in his neighborhood.
“We are so honored to continue our work with TyLie Shider, whose passion and talents are reshaping the American canon of theatre,” said ArtYard executive director Jill Kearney in a statement. “We are excited to support his work turning overlooked histories into theatrical storytelling that moves us, gives us hope, and pushes us forward.”
Another of his plays, Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family, was staged in October by Premiere Stages at Kean University in Union, N.J. The National Black Theatre hosted a workshop production of The Gospel Woman back in November.
ArtYard’s Playwright Fellowship is by invitation only. There is not currently an open call or application process, though the program seeks to engage with mid-career playwrights/theatre artists who demonstrate a commitment to developing new, socially relevant, engaging work.
ArtYard is an interdisciplinary alternative contemporary art center comprised of an exhibition space, theatre, and residency program, dedicated to presenting transformative artwork, fostering unexpected collaborations, and incubating original new work. ArtYard aims be an incubator for creative expression and a catalyst for collaborations that reveal the transformational power of art.
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