This year’s participating playwrights include EM Lewis, Ellen Claire Porter and Yasmine Beverly Rana. Like the first round writers, each will have three private readings of their plays, and a final reading during the Forum Series in December 2013.
New Jersey has an abundance of talented and committed women playwrights, but there are very few opportunities for these artists to form relationships with organizations that will make a long-term commitment to developing both their work and their presence in the community. The NJEWP will put into place a process that will identify writers, provide a long-term writer-driven development process, and provide connections for the writer to other writers, informed audiences, and the larger theatrical community, both in New Jersey and nationwide.
The first round of women playwrights included: Lia Romeo, Dania Ramos, Carrie Louise Nutt and Dominique Cieri. Over the course of twelve months, the writers each had four readings of their plays, three private reading that were scheduled by the writer and a final public reading. Final readings of all of these women’s plays were held during Playwrights Theatre’s Forum Reading Series in December 2012. The pilot project had the funding of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Puffin Foundation. Bios and program descriptions can be found on Playwrights Theatre’s website.
“This program had it’s real beginning when one of the first-round writers, Carrie Louise Nutt, pointed out to me that my notion that women playwrights were getting work done on a regular basis, was misguided,” said John Pietrowski, Artistic Director of Playwrights Theatre. “So we set about, in our own small way, to rectify that. It has been an exciting year, the four first round writers have brought their works a long way. In the beginning, some of the plays were near to being complete, others were merely scribbled scenes on lined paper. After the four readings, over 14 months, we had some complete plays.”
“I have high expectations for this program. At the end of this year, we will have assisted seven New Jersey playwrights, and I hope to have 16-20 in three years. We are also in discussions at present with another theatre company in the state to extend the length of the program to a second year, so the writers can continue with their play or even start a new one. My dream is to have a number of theatres in the state participating in some way.”
About the Playwrights:
EM Lewis is an award-winning playwright. She's from Oregon, spent quite a few years in Los Angeles, and now lives and writes in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been produced around the world including productions at the Guthrie and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and published by Samuel French. Lewis received a 2012 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the 2010-2011 Hodder Fellow in Playwriting at Princeton University. She won the 2009 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for her play Song of Extinction and the 2008 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman theater artist for Heads, both from the American Theater Critics Association. More information can be found on her website: www.emlewisplaywright.com
Claire Porter, www.cportables.com comes to playwriting as a choreographer and performer who choreographs movement and choreographs words. She has performed her work, Claire Porter / PORTABLES, in India, Germany, Holland, England, Latvia, Korea and in the New York City at DTW, Danspace St. Mark’s Church, PS 122, Joe’s Pub, The Kitchen, The Joyce Theater, Joyce SOHO, 92nd St. Y, Town Hall, The Bottom Line, The NY Horticulture Society, Liberty Science Center, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center. PORTABLES has also showcased at American Dance Festival, Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy, Bates Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Florida Dance Festival, Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth Theater DC, Tampa Bay Off Center Theater, Duncan Theater Palm Beach FL, Center Stage Raleigh NC, The Southern Theater Minneapolis MN, The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, and others.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Yasmine Rana is a playwright, drama therapist, and educator whose plays have been developed and produced in the United States and abroad. Yasmine has collaborated with theaters and festivals including La MaMa, Theater for the New City’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, Epic Theatre Festival at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn, Washington and Lee University’s Theatre in the Academe Symposium, Romania’s Fest Art In Cluj, The Looking Glass Theatre, Johns Hopkins University Theatre, Brooklyn College’s GI60 Festival, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Birmingham Repertory Theatre (U.K), Second Stage Theatre’s DestiNation America Festival, The Austin Woman’s Film, Television, and Theater Festival, The Mae West Fest in Seattle, Pulse Ensemble Theatre, 12 Miles West Theatre, The Jewel Box Theatre in Los Angeles, and the San Diego Human Rights Festival. Her plays have been published in journals and anthologies.
About Playwrights Theatre:
Founded in 1986, Playwrights Theatre is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit professional theatre and arts education institution dedicated to developing and nurturing the dramatic imagination of artists, students, and audiences. Our New Play Program creates development opportunities for professional writers through readings, workshops and productions, and invites audiences to participate in authentic feedback experiences. Our New Jersey Writers Project, Poetry Out Loud, New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival, and Creative Arts Academy programs provide a comprehensive and hands-on arts education experience to over 31,000 students, Pre-K through adult.
From 2003-2013, we have been designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (along with only four other theatres: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, George Street Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center and Paper Mill Playhouse) as “an anchor institution that contributes vitally to the quality of life in New Jersey.”
Funding for our activities comes from: the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., Dramatist Guild Fund, Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, The Shubert Foundation, The Victoria Foundation, and many corporations, foundations and individuals.