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Announcing the Inaugural Recipients of the Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship

Lark News
Olivia Dufault tucks her hair behind her ear, Mike Lew sits on a stool and stares into the camera, Susan Soon He Stanton poses in a red dress against a red background, looking at the ground.

The Lark and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation are thrilled to announce that the plays and playwrights selected for the pilot round of the Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship program are For Want of a Horse by Olivia Dufault; Teenage Dick by Mike Lew; and Today is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton. The new fellowship will support the advancement of ambitious, risk-taking, and innovative plays by providing concurrent residencies for their authors, and advocating for their production by partner theaters. Fellows each receive an award of $50,000 over two years, as well as a Production Subsidy Grant of up to $50,000 to support a production of the play at a theater of the playwright’s choosing. Throughout their two-year fellowships, the playwrights will be in residence at The Lark where they will have access to an individually-tailored lineup of new play development and advocacy resources, including readings, workshops, writers’ groups, retreats, career guidance, and community engagement activities, designed to nurture their writing and advance their work into the repertoire.

“We are elated by this opportunity to so deeply support the work of three outstanding writers. Each play is an idiosyncratic example of the fearless exploration of the range of human experience that the stage deserves,” said Andrea Hiebler, Director of Scouting and Submissions at The Lark. “In For Want of a Horse, Olivia invites us to practice radical empathy with a taboo subculture by demonstrating an uncommon level of tenderness and buoyancy. Mike tackles no less than Shakespeare's Richard III, re-imagining the king as an ambitious adolescent with cerebral palsy and a high school crush. By centering characters written explicitly for Disabled actors, Teenage Dick engages directly with issues of access and inclusion in wickedly comic style. Susan's Today is My Birthday uses the form of a good old fashioned radio play to dramatize the frustrations of modern communication as a young woman navigates the liminal state of her transition from a life in New York back to her home state of Hawaii. The wit and dark edges on display provide a compelling meditation on the lonely journey of living. The Lark is honored to partner with Venturous Theater Fund to leverage productions of these plays as well as encourage Olivia, Mike and Susan to continue crafting visionary and vital bodies of work.”

In the pilot round, Venturous Playwright Fellows were selected through a multi-step curation process by Lark and Venturous Theater Fund staff, based on choosing work identified as “venturous,” i.e., challenging in form, controversial in subject matter, ambitious in scale, and/or experimental in concept.

“We are grateful to the extraordinarily talented Olivia Dufault, Mike Lew, and Susan Soon He Stanton for participating in this program’s inaugural round. We especially admire these intrepid artists for writing plays that are perceived as ‘challenging’ to produce, and we hope this initiative will inspire theaters to embrace such bold, unconventional works,” said Ben Pesner, Program Director at Venturous Theater Fund. “The Lark is an ideal partner for Venturous, with its long track record of providing writers with the kind of depth and breadth of artistic support this fellowship entails. We are proud to collaborate with The Lark in championing ambitious new plays and empowering the writers who create them.”

The Venturous Playwright Fellowship will be part of The Lark’s acclaimed portfolio of fellowships, which includes the Apothetae at Lark Fellowship, Jerome Fellowship, and Playwrights of New York Fellowship, among others, that is designed to engage Fellows in a cohort of diverse and extraordinary playwrights at various career levels, from across the country and around the world, gathered to explore and illuminate the most important issues of our time.


For Want of a Horse by Olivia Dufault

Calvin loves Q-Tip. Calvin is a human. Q-Tip is a horse. A radically empathetic look into the world of zoophilia.

Teenage Dick by Mike Lew

A hilarious take on Shakespeare’s classic tale of power lust, Teenage Dick reimagines the most famous disabled character of all time as a 16-year-old outsider in the deepest winter of his discontent: his junior year at Roseland High.  Picked on because of his cerebral palsy (as well as his sometimes creepy Shakespearean way of speaking), Richard is determined to have his revenge and make his name by becoming president of the senior class. But as he manipulates and crushes the obstacles to his electoral success, Richard finds himself faced with a decision he never expected would be his to make: is it better to be loved or feared?

Today Is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton

Emily is a would-be writer whose bubble life in NYC has popped. Finding life back home chaotic and unfulfilling, she becomes strangely activated after creating a sassy alter-ego for a radio bit. Told through a playful mixture of live radio, voicemail, and phone calls, Today Is My Birthday is a quirky comedy about life with a thousand friends on Facebook and no one to have dinner with on Saturday night.


Venturous Theater Fund supports innovative approaches to theatrical production by encouraging playwrights and other theater-makers to take risks in the creation of new work for the stage. Venturous seeks to help writers achieve the freedom to write the plays they fear would otherwise go unproduced; and to enable not-for-profit producing organizations to say “yes” instead of “no” to worthy but challenging projects that involve controversial subject matter, large casts, or other perceived obstacles. Through its Venturous Capital Grants program, Venturous provides funds for small and medium-sized theaters to underwrite extraordinary production expenses for ambitious new plays—specific costs that a theater might otherwise be unable to incur. Since its founding in 2011, Venturous has also supported playwright collectives, writers who self-produce, playwright-driven initiatives, and playwright service organizations. For more information, visit