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Vivian Barnes, Nathan Alan Davis, and Jahna Ferron-Smith Named Recipients of The Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship

Lark News
Headshots of Vivian Barnes, Nathan Alan Davis, and Jahna Ferron-Smith

NEW YORK, NY The Lark and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation are thrilled to announce that the plays and playwrights selected for the third round of The Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship program are The Sensational Sea Mink-ettes by Vivian Barnes, Eternal Life, Part I  by Nathan Alan Davis, and THE WOODS. by Jahna Ferron-Smith. This Fellowship supports the advancement of ambitious, risk-taking, and innovative plays, by providing concurrent residencies for their authors, and advocating for their production at 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 individually-tailored new play development and advocacy resources, including readings, workshops, retreats, mentorship, and community building activities, designed to nurture their writing and advance their work into the repertoire.

"We are over the moon to welcome Vivian, Nathan, and Jahna as our third cohort of Venturous Fellows,” said Andrea Hiebler (Director of Scouting and Submissions, The Lark). “Their wildly imaginative, cleverly sophisticated, and invigoratingly haunting plays deserve immediate attention, and we hope they are among the first to be fully produced when live theater returns.  Given all the uncertainty facing our industry and the world at large, we are especially grateful for the ability to robustly support these incredible writers over two years as they continue to reflect, create, and realize the truest and most uninhibited expressions of their singular theatrical voices."

Venturous Playwright Fellows were selected through a multi-step 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. Past Venturous Fellows and plays include Mike Lew (Teenage Dick), Sam Chanse (Trigger), Dipika Guha (Passing), Dave Harris (Incendiary), Olivia Dufault (For Want of a Horse) and Susan Soon He Stanton (Today Is My Birthday).

“We are proud to continue our collaboration with the Lark, and especially to celebrate the work of Vivian Barnes, Nathan Alan Davis, and Jahna Ferron-Smith. Each of these three important writers represents a powerful, distinctive voice. Their work is both challenging and entertaining, as well as daring in its theatrical innovation,” said Ben Pesner, Program Director at Venturous Theater Fund. “Now more than ever, we support theater-makers who are committed to creating bold, ambitious work for the stage—as soon as it becomes possible to safely do so once again. We believe that the future of the theater depends upon the kind of work generated by these remarkable writers, and we look forward to helping companies stage these three plays through the production grants available under the Lark Venturous Fellowship program." 

“This generous fellowship has emboldened my spirit,” said Nathan Alan Davis. “The wonderful staff and artists of The Lark have been a great source of inspiration to me. I am thrilled to be deepening my connection with them.” Vivian Barnes said, “I am so honored to receive this support from The Lark, especially for a play so dear to me that I considered impossible to produce." Jahna Ferron-Smith said, “This Fellowship is an incredible opportunity to continue making theater during this remarkable and unprecedented moment within the industry: what an amazing gift, for which I am deeply grateful.”

The Venturous Playwright Fellowship is part of The Lark’s acclaimed portfolio of artistic programs, including the Apothetae and Lark Playwriting Fellowship and the Van Lier New Voices Fellowship. This opportunity is designed to connect Fellows with a cohort of diverse and extraordinary playwrights at various career levels, from across the country and around the world and together explore and illuminate the most important issues of our time.


Vivian Barnes is a playwright from Virginia. Her work has been produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville's 44th Humana Festival and developed at Clubbed Thumb, Montana Repertory Theatre, and the 2021 Ojai Playwrights Conference. She was recently a staff writer on an upcoming Amazon series and is currently a third-year MFA Playwright at UC San Diego. 

Nathan Alan Davis’s plays include The High Ground (upcoming at Arena Stage), Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop), Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea (NNPN Rolling World Premiere), and The Wind and the Breeze (Cygnet Theatre). Honors include a Whiting Award in Drama, a Steinberg Playwright Award, and the Stavis Playwright Award. Nathan is a Lecturer in Theater and Berlind Playwright-in-Residence at Princeton University.  He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jahna Ferron-Smith is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Julliard School. She is also a member of the playwriting collectives, Youngblood and Interstate 73 Writers’ Group. Her plays have been performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival—including Running While Black, THE WOODS. (developed at SPACE on Ryder Farm), and SIR. (published by Samuel French).


The Sensational Sea Mink-ettes by Vivian Barnes

The Sea Mink-ettes are the best dance team around and homecoming is their time to shine. As the big day creeps closer, petty infighting and the quest for perfection threaten to tear the group apart--and then three of their teammates suddenly go missing. And the darkness around them keeps growing. And the world keeps going and going and going. 

Eternal Life, Part I  by Nathan Alan Davis

Eternal Life, Part I is a play exploring unreasonable longings, impossible tasks, cosmic jokes, and the inevitability of death. Eternal Life Part I was originally commissioned by Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, MA.

THE WOODS. by Jahna Ferron-Smith

THE WOODS. explores our learned relationships to the "American" landscape—who’s taught to love it? Who's taught to fear it? Who's allowed access to it?—and the consequences those cultural narratives have on young Black Americans only just learning what being Black in today's "American landscape" might mean for them.