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The Lark Names Five Writers to Take Part in 20th Season of Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop

Lark News
Headshots of Sam Chanse, J. Julian Christopher, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, C.A. Johnson, and Abe Koogler.

The Lark is thrilled to announce that Sam Chanse, C. Julian Jiménez, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, C.A. Johnson, and Abe Koogler have been selected as the 2019-20Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellows. This year marks the 20th iteration of the Workshop, which was established by renowned playwright Arthur Kopit, and brings together emerging and established playwrights in a space where they are free to explore new material, without commercial pressures.

“We're so excited about this cohort of new and returning fellows,” said Lloyd Suh, Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark. “The Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop program is designed for robust, peer-based conversation around the generation of new work, and these five writers have all demonstrated uncommon rigor and nuance in their expansive theatrical imaginations. We're anticipating a really dynamic, playful, and explosive season for the program.”

The group, curated by members of The Lark’s artistic team, spans a wide range of backgrounds and professional experiences. Sam Chanse was named one of The Lark’s current Venturous Playwright Fellows for her play Trigger; C. Julian Jiménez received a La Guardia Community College LGBTQ History Project Grant for his play Julio Down by the Schoolyard, which was developed through a Studio Retreat reading at The Lark last season; Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a two-time Pulitzer Prize Finalist who returns to the workshop for his second consecutive year; C.A. Johnson, a former Van Lier New Voices Fellow at The Lark, will make her Off-Broadway debut this season with All the Natalie Portmans (MCC); and Abe Koogler is an Obie-Award winning writer whose play Fulfillment Center (Lincoln Center) was developed through The Lark’s Roundtable program. These Fellows will 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.

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.

“Playwrights’ Workshop was one of the first artistic homes I found when I first came to New York—and remains my favorite place to bring new work,” said playwright Kimber Lee, who’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play (O’Neill) was developed through the Workshop. “Whether it’s a few pages of an unformed idea, or a section of a play farther along in its development, Workshop always gives me what a need to keep going—whether that means specific dramaturgical insight or just encouragement to keep at it. Every single play I have written since I came to New York has been nurtured by The Lark in that room.”

Other 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, Doug Wright, and program founder Kopit, 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.


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.