NEW YORK CITY: Rattlestick Theater has selected playwrights AriDy Nox and a.k. payne as its 2023-24 Van Lier New Voices Fellows. Funded by the New York Community Trust and the Jerome Foundation, the annual fellowship is designed to support to two playwrights of color under 30 and includes a $35,000 living stipend, a $5,000 artistic fund, mentorship with a chosen mentor playwright, workshops and readings of new work, as well as participation in Rattlestick’s larger artistic network.
Since 2011, the Van Lier New Voices Fellowship has supported 16 playwrights. The fellowship program was rehomed at Rattlestick in Spring 2022 after the closure of the Lark Play Development Center, and will be overseen by artistic director Will Davis.
“The Van Lier New Voices Fellowship provides pivotal support to early career playwrights by encouraging experimentation and providing a foundational artistic home as the fellows navigate the early stages of their careers,” said Davis in a statement. “The incoming fellows are powerful, inventive writers with real vision for what the future of the form could be. I’m honored to support a.k. and AriDy and grateful that in my first year as Rattlestick’s artistic director, I have the opportunity to amplify their work.”
AriDy Nox is a multidisciplinary Black femme storyteller and social activist whose works include a historical reimagining of the life of Sally Hemmings, Black Girl in Paris (2020), the ancestral reckoning play A Walless Church (2019), the Afrofuturist eco-pocalypse musical Metropolis (2019), and many others. As a graduate of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU, a beneficiary of the Musical Theatre Factory inaugural MAKERS cohort, the Emerging Writer’s Group at the Public Theatre, The Civilians’ Research and Development Group, Horizon Theatre’s Black Women Speak Cohort, and the Live and In Color June Bingham commission, they have been privileged to share the workings of her imagination among a vast array of inspiring and supportive artists of various radical backgrounds throughout the country.
a.k. payne is a playwright and theatremaker with roots in Pittsburgh. They hold a B.A. in English and African American Studies from Yale College and an MFA in Playwriting under Tarell Alvin McCraney from Yale School of Drama. Their work has been a finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. They are a grandchild of the Great Migration, a queer and nonbinary abolitionist affected in community by the “New Jim Crow,” and of a great lineage of Black women storytellers and living-room archivists—all of which deeply informs, uplifts, and amplifies their work as a playwright, community organizer, and spacemaker.
Rattlestick Theater is a theatre company committed to the development & production of new plays in the West Village neighborhood of New York City. Rattlestick seeks to produce ambitious plays to inspire empathy and provoke conversation that will lead to positive social change.
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