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Tarell Alvin McCraney, Madhuri Shekar, and a.k. payne.

Offscript: Kendeda at 20 With Tarell Alvin McCraney, Madhuri Shekar, and a.k. payne

On this episode, 3 playwrights discuss their development experience as past winners of the Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition.

Offscript, American Theatre’s flagship podcast for a number of years, is back as a Facebook Live chat with the magazine’s editors and special guests as well as an audio podcast.

This month, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Alliance Theatre’s Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition, we talk to award-winning playwrights Tarell Alvin McCraney, Madhuri Shekar, and a.k. payne about new play development. The competition offers a student in a playwriting MFA program a world premiere on the Alliance’s second stage. McCraney won the Kendeda in 2007 for his play In the Red and Brown Water while he was a student at Yale, Shekar won in 2013 for In Love and Warcraft while studying at USC, and payne, who studied under McCraney at Yale, won this year for Furlough’s Paradise, now playing at the Alliance through March 3. They discuss what they’ve learned from the Kendeda development process, the best advice they’ve received, and why more theatres should make space for new works on their stages.

a.k. payne is a playwright, artist-theorist, and theatremaker with roots in Pittsburgh. Their play Love I Awethu Further is a current finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Madhuri Shekar is a playwright and screenwriter whose works include Queen, In Love and Warcraft, and the Audible original Evil Eye. Her play A Nice Indian Boy has been adapted into a film that will premiere at SXSW on March 12.

Tarell Alvin McCraney is a writer, producer, and educator. He is the artistic director of Geffen Playhouse and the chair of playwriting at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue was the basis for the Oscar–winning film Moonlight.

You can download the episode here and watch the original Facebook chat here. If you have any feedback or suggestions for Offscript, please reach out to

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