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The Lark Names 2018-19 Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop Fellows

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From left to right, narrow headshots of Nathan Alan Davis, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sylvia Khoury, Arthur Kopit, and Lauren Yee

NEW YORK, NY – The Lark, a theater company devoted to the support of visionary playwrights and the development of new plays, is thrilled to announce five New York City-based playwrights have been named as the 2018-19 Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellows. The group spans a wide range of backgrounds and professional experiences and will meet regularly throughout the year to develop new plays.

This year the five fellows, selected by members of The Lark’s artistic team, are: Nathan Alan Davis, who received The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center for his play The Wind and the Breeze; Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a two-time Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of An Octoroon (Obie Award); Sylvia Khoury, whose play Against the Hillside, developed in The Lark’s 2016 Playwrights’ Week, received its world premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre earlier this year;  Lauren Yee, who recently won the Horton Foote Prize for her play Cambodian Rock Band, developed through The Lark’s Roundtable program; and Arthur Kopit, a three-time Tony Nominee for his plays Indians, Wings, and for the book to the musical Nine. Arthur, who created the program and served as its Director since it was formed in 2001, will take a hiatus from his previous role to participate in the workshop this season as its Writer in Residence.

“The Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop is designed to be a process where a dynamic group of contemporary playwrights can engage with each other around brand new, raw, and challenging work,” said Lloyd Suh, Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark. “This cohort of five writers represents such an eclectic range of styles and sensibilities, and yet all five have proven themselves to be rigorous in telling urgent, vital stories in unexpected and imaginative ways. We’re thrilled that they’ll be sharing space with each other and with The Lark over the course of the season.”

The Workshop brings together emerging and established playwrights to explore new material without commercial pressures. Fellows meet twice a month to share new pages from plays-in-progress and, if it serves the playwright’s process, have a conversation about the work. Now in its 19th year, the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Program has served as a resource for over 100 playwright fellows to develop their work within a cohort of fellow writers, and has extended that process to include hundreds of actors and collaborators.

“The Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop came to me in a year when what I needed most was a writing family,” said C.A. Johnson, a 2017-18 Fellow. “Every month, five writers, a pile of actors, and stellar dramaturgs listened in on my un-polished work with openness and a willingness to critique it on my terms. By the end of the season, I'd written a brand new draft of a play without even blinking, and I have that room of collaborators to thank for ushering it forward with caring hands.”

As a peer-based environment that prioritizes process over product, the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop has become a place where writers can feel comfortable tackling bold and ambitious work, and, as a result, has served as a laboratory for plays that have gone on to be influential in the field. Plays substantially developed through the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop include: Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (Atlantic Theater Company); Teenage Dick by Mike Lew (The Public Theater); queens by Martyna Majok (Lincoln Center); Transfers by Lucy Thurber (MCC); and Sweat by Lynn Nottage (Broadway, Pulitzer Prize). As a long-term investment in extraordinary playwrights, the workshop is one of The Lark's most significant tools for supporting the necessary generation and development of work in progress.

This season, the program will be led by a rotating group of leading American playwrights, who will host each session and facilitate discussion around the work. Previous hosts have included Katori Hall, Tina Howe, Samuel D. Hunter, David Henry Hwang, Kimber Lee, Dominique Morisseau, José Rivera, and Doug Wright, among others.

This program has been made possible with leadership support from longtime Lark trustee Rita Goldberg.  Additional support is provided by the Axe-Houghton Foundation and the John Golden Fund.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS

Nathan Alan Davis is a playwright from Rockford, Illinois, now based in New York. He received a Whiting Award in Drama in 2018. His plays include Nat Turner in Jerusalem (NYTW; New York Magazine Critic's Pick), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (NNPN Rolling World Premiere; Steinberg/ATCA New Play Citation, Los Angeles Times Critic's Choice), The Wind and the Breeze (Cygnet Theatre; Blue Ink Award, Lorraine Hansberry Award) and Origin Story (Premiering at Water Tower Theatre in 2019). Commissions and development include: The Public Theater, McCarter Theatre, Arena Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Lark, Seattle Rep, and South Coast Rep. Nathan is a Usual Suspect at NYTW, a Lecturer in Theater at Princeton University, and a 2016 graduate of Juilliard's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. He received his MFA from Indiana University and BFA from the University of Illinois.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Everybody (Signature Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award) and Neighbors (The Public Theater). A Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre, his most recent honors include the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright from the London Evening Standard, a London Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwriting, a MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He sits on the board of Soho Rep and, with Annie Baker, he is an associate co-director of the Hunter College MFA program in playwriting.

Arthur Kopit is a playwright whose work includes Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (Drama Desk Award); Indians (Tony Nominee, Finalist for Pulitzer Prize); Wings (Tony Nominee, Finalist for Pulitzer Prize); a new translation of Ibsen's Ghosts; the book for the musical Nine (Tony Award for Best Musical, 1982; Tony Award for Best Musical revival, 2003); End of the World With Symposium to Follow; the books for the musicals Phantom and High Society; Road to Nirvana; Chad Curtiss, Lost Again; BecauseHeCan; A Dram of Drummhicit (written with Anton Dudley); Discovery of America; and various one-act plays. He was the 2014 recipient of the Dramatists Guild Flora Roberts Award and the William Inge Award for Distinguished Playwriting. He has taught playwriting at New York University’s Graduate Department of Dramatic Writing, the Yale School of Drama, Wesleyan University, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Hunter College. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, where he serves on the Dramatists Guild Council, and a member of The Lark’s Board of Trustees.

Sylvia Khoury is a New York-born writer of French and Lebanese descent. Her plays include Selling Kabul (2018 L. Arnold Weissberger Award and Jay Harris Commission from Williamstown Theater Festival, Citation of Excellence from Laurents/Hatcher Award, 2017 Kilroys List, Noor Theater Highlight Reading Series, La Jolla Playhouse DNA Reading Series), Against the Hillside (Ensemble Studio Theater premiere, The Lark Playwrights' Week, Eugene O'Neill Playwrights' Conference, 2016 Kilroys List, Roundabout Theater Underground Reading Series, NNPN National Showcase of New Plays), and Powerstrip (Playwrights Horizons Reading, Women’s Project Workshop). She is a member of the 2016-2018 Womens' Project Lab, EST/Youngblood, and a 2015-16 Dramatists' Guild Fellow. She holds a BA in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies from Columbia University and an MFA in Playwriting from the New School for Drama. She is currently a third-year student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai planning to specialize in Psychiatry.

Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Rep and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Her play The Great Leap premiered this past season at Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, and Atlantic Theatre with 2019 productions slated for the Guthrie, American Conservatory Theater, Arts Club, and InterAct Theatre. Also upcoming for 2018-19: King of the Yees at Baltimore Center Stage and San Francisco Playhouse, and The Song of Summer at Trinity Rep. Honors: Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, Hodder Fellowship/Princeton, #1 and #2 plays on 2017 Kilroys List, finalist for ATCA/Steinberg Award and Kennedy Prize. Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and alumni playwright of Playwrights Realm. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD. Current commissions: Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, South Coast Repertory, and Trinity Repertory Company. laurenyee.com


ABOUT RITA GOLDBERG

Rita Goldberg’s love of theater and dramatic writing began when she was a Hunter College student enthralled with the work of Eugene O’Neill.  After getting married and raising four children - Andrew, Suzan, Josh and Mitchell - Rita embarked on a career as an independent education counselor and founding member of Independent Educational Consultants Association and its regional division. Because of her passion for theater and dramatic writing, Rita and her husband Burton established the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College. She is on the Board of Trustees of The Lark and has followed Lark’s growth from its infancy and supported its progress through her patronage.

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