SAN DIEGO: Cygnet Theatre has announced the recipients of the 2023 Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commissions. The commissioning program, which is in partnership with the MFA playwriting program at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), supports Cygnet’s commitment to new theatrical works.
This year’s commissioned playwrights include Christian St. Croix and MFA students Agyeiwaa Asante and Milo Cramer.
“I am thrilled that the Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commission is now in its eighth year and has seen many of its new works go on to world premieres,” said Cygnet artistic director Sean Murray in a statement.
The Finish Line commissions provide financial support for playwrights, as well as for actors and directors in public staged readings of the new works. Creative teams will also have access to rehearsal space, and Cygnet will host public talk-backs and receptions for the commissioned playwrights, all of which will be free to the public. The readings will be held Sept. 17-19.
“We’re so excited to continue our partnership with Cygnet Theatre on this commissioning initiative,” UCSD MFA playwriting program head Naomi Iizuka said in a statement. “These commissions create a unique opportunity for Cygnet to build ongoing relationships with our MFA playwrights, and allow our playwrights to build an ongoing relationship with the local theatre community.”
Asante’s Church Play (Sept. 17) takes place in the basement of a charismatic church, where the women of the Agape Drama Ministry perform weekly biblical skits—until one member inspires a crisis of faith. Kandace Crystal will direct.
Asante is a Ghanaian American playwright whose work has been produced by the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival, the Fire This Time Festival, the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Festival, Mosaic Theatre, the Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series, and more. She has been commissioned by Round House Theatre and holds a BA from the University of Maryland.
Cramer’s Business Ideas (Sept. 18) is about his mother, a café where he used to work, and trying to make enough money to be rich, to pay for college, or just to survive. Cramer’s work has been presented at the Under the Radar Festival and the Wilma Theater, and his solo musical School Pictures will run at Playwrights Horizons this season. He is currently under commission with Clubbed Thumb.
The last reading will be St. Croix’s We Are the Forgotten Beasts (Sept. 19), which follows Archie, a gay Black man who upends his life to save his half-brother from the rock bottom of a cross-country bender. Jaeonnie Davis-Crawford will direct.
St. Croix is a San Diego-based playwright whose work has been developed and produced by the Blindspot Collective in association with La Jolla Playhouse, ArtsWest, Third Culture Theatre, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Prologue Theatre, and HIT International Theatre Arts, among others. We Are the Forgotten Beasts was a finalist in the 2022 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
Cygnet Theatre produces professional theatre and thought-provoking and engaging educational programming. The theatre’s outreach programs serve tens of thousands of students and community members in the San Diego area. As of 2022, the theatre had a budget of approximately $2.7 million.
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