The Tow Foundation Announces Playwrights in Residence
The Tow Foundation announces their 2017-2018 Tow Playwrights-in-Residence at seven New York nonprofit theater companies. Each theater has been awarded a $75,000 grant to support their selected playwright. This is the third cohort selected for The Tow Foundation’s Playwright Residency Program.
The residency program includes a full-time salary for each playwright and funds to support their integration into the theater’s day-to-day operations, as well as a guaranteed full production of their play by their sponsoring theater company. The goal is for each playwright to gain experience and insight into all aspects of the nonprofit theater world.
Emily Tow Jackson, Executive Director and President of The Tow Foundation, says, “The theaters have full autonomy over what playwrights they choose, and as a result we see incredible diversity in the backgrounds of applicants. This season’s Playwrights in Residence take on a number of bold topics in their respective plays. Our goal is to help ensure they have the time and space to create their work and the support and mentorship to see their final production to fruition. We are excited to see the new plays they will produce, which we are confident will make important contributions to New York’s cultural fabric.”
The 2017-2018 Tow Playwrights-in-Residence are (theater company, sponsored playwright):
- Atlantic Theater Company, Amy Staats
- MCC Theater, Jocelyn Bioh
- New York Theater Workshop, Hammaad Chaudry
- Primary Stages Company, Sharon Washington
- The Public Theater, Patricia Ione Lloyd
- Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Diana Oh
- Roundabout Theatre Company, Alex Lubischer
The seven theaters and their playwrights were selected after a competitive application process. Eileen Wiseman, Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Tow Foundation, says, "Through the program we are able to help bolster visionary artistic directors. The financial security and home base with a sponsoring theater and guaranteed production of work helps give the artists the support and freedom to focus on their art."
Neil Pepe, artistic director of the Atlantic Theater Company reflects on what this playwright residency has meant for them in the past and his hopes for this year, “Participating in The Tow Foundation’s Playwright Residency Program has been an incredible asset, not only in helping Atlantic develop the work of a great young writer but also in bringing her deeper into our community – be it as an artist, a staff member, or an educator. It’s been a truly rewarding collaboration. We’ve accomplished so much with Paola Lázaro over the past year, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to extend that same opportunity to the wonderful Amy Staats.”
First time Tow Resident Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, has another perspective. Its artistic director, Daniella Topol, says “The Tow residency is a game changer for Rattlestick and Diana Oh. This meaningful level of support allows Diana and Rattlestick the artistic freedom and resources to fully realize the ambitious vision for mylingerieplay. This residency is also an investment in Diana, giving her the much-needed opportunity to develop her next two projects at Rattlestick…both of which have great promise and possibility!”
Former Tow Playwright-in-Residence (2016-2017), Chisa Hutchinson, sponsored by Second Stage Theater, responds to what the experience was like for her: “Okay, we get it. Big, brand-name theater companies have subscribers to please, seats to fill, budgets to balance. So it’s risky putting resources behind relative unknowns like me, even if they like our work. The beauty of The Tow Foundation is that they mitigate that risk, take the pressure off companies like Second Stage by offering scratch that doesn’t just fund productions, but supports relationships between them and the scrappy writers they’d like to introduce to their audiences. And in the meantime, I get to play with the big kids and pretend I belong on an ad with friggin’ Anna Deaveare Smith and Tracy Letts.”
“Bringing fresh voices onto the stage is critical to supporting a vibrant, creative field of theater in New York. We strive to facilitate authentic, timely, and mutually beneficial partnerships with the goal of enriching the lives of individual playwrights, nonprofit theaters and audiences,” adds Tow Jackson.