ANPF offers summer playwright ‘retreat,’ announces Fall Festival winners
Ashland New Plays Festival has announced the five emerging playwrights chosen for the inaugural “New Voices Retreat” — a weeklong, virtual mentorship and workshop experience — to be held in August.
“These young playwrights are passionate, generous, and original artists poised to make big waves in the future of theatre,” said ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca. “We are thrilled to be able to support them as they develop new works for the stage.”
The new playwrights selected to partake in the experience are Kathryn de la Rosa, Ty Greenwood, Heesun Hwang, Jasmine Sharma and Carlos-Zenen Trujillo.
The retreat, held virtually Aug. 1-7, will allow the artists to fully engage with the writing process. They will be paired with established theatre professionals as mentors who will assist with the development of a script in progress. Mentors will include comedy writer and playwright Sarah Cho; playwright and TV writer Inda Craig-Galván; playwright and director Lavina Jadhwani; Amrita Ramanan, senior cultural strategist and dramaturg for Play On Shakespeare; and, dramaturg Luan Schooler of Artists Repertory Theatre. The playwrights also will receive a $500 stipend and come together during the week for virtual workshops with special guests. The retreat is funded in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year — emotionally, physically and financially,” Apodaca. said “My hope for the retreat is to ‘buy back’ some of these playwrights’ time, from their day jobs or other commitments, so they can spend that on developing their art. ANPF’s mission is centered on supporting and assisting playwrights. That support shouldn’t be focused solely on competition and presentation. The New Voices Retreat will extend our earnest commitment to inclusivity by uplifting underrepresented and largely unproduced talent. We are excited to welcome into our sphere emerging playwrights, currently grappling with the difficult, messy, and vital work of the craft.”
The retreat week will conclude in conversations with the playwrights, available on ANPF’s podcast. They also will be featured in a live virtual panel during ANPF’s Fall Festival, scheduled October 20-24, where they will talk about their work and what it’s like to be a new writer during this unprecedented time.
Kathryn de la Rosa is a Filipinx playwright and dramaturg born and raised in Kentucky. They dream of theater that loves people and their gods in the middle of America and the edges of its empire. Plays include “Holy Virgins” and “Ribs,” which have been produced and developed by student groups at Northwestern University and Indiana University. De la Rosa was a 2019-20 dramaturgy apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville and previously interned with The New Harmony Project, Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. They are a current MA theology and the arts student at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
Ty Greenwood has a bachelor’s in communication arts with an emphasis in rhetoric and honors in theatre from Washington & Jefferson College and an MFA in dramatic writing from Carnegie Mellon. In 2013, he landed a four-year scholarship/apprenticeship with KDKA TV-News Pittsburgh. There he wrote anchor packages and helped produce the “Pittsburgh Today Live Show” through the Emma Bowen Foundation, an organization that places college students with corporate sponsors, with a goal of promoting diversity in the media. In 2016, his short film “Fuzzy on the Details” was entered into the British Film Festival. That same year, he also received the Ubuntu Emma Award through the Emma Bowen Foundation for his sense of community and promotion of diversity and togetherness in his work at college and in the media. He has presented his short play “Not a Fairy Tale” and research “Protecting our Black Men: Black Masculinity and the use of the Black Body” in “For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide … ” at the Mid-America Theatre Conference. He developed and had a staged reading of his full-length choreopoem play “Death Dream” at Alumni Theatre Company in 2019. He participated in City Theatre’s 2019 Momentum Festival: New Plays at Different Stages where he presented an excerpt of “Untitled Thesis Play” as part of the In Their Own Voices event. His work focuses on telling stories that are not damaging to the identity, existence and bodies of Black people, but rather are empowering, unapologetic and radical in nature. Recently, City Theatre chose Greenwood as the inaugural recipient of a commission from the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights. Asolo Repertory Theatre awarded Greenwood its first Ground Floor Playwright Commission to pursue a work he’s developing, inspired by Black writer and activist James Baldwin. He was commissioned by The Hansberry Project to develop new works for The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work. This is a multi-year project aiming to develop a coalition of five Black theaters with shared goals to commission, develop, and premiere works by Black artists at theaters across the country.
Heesun Hwang is a queer, Korean-American playwright and artist currently based in Brooklyn. Her recent writing work was part of Mona Pirnot writers’ group and Kenneth Lonergan workshop at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and was a finalist at YoungArts UpNext: Writing. Her recent acting work includes “pov: u run joe biden’s tiktok” (ANTFEST, Ars Nova); Kim, Alternate, in “Miss Saigon” (Williamstown Theatre Festival National Tour); “who’s a good girl?;” and National YoungArts Foundation (finalist). Hwang will be joining UT Austin’s MFA playwriting program in the fall of 2021.
Jasmine Sharma is a South Asian-American actor/writer/activist and recent graduate of Northwestern University. Sharma and her writing have been recognized nationally by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (NPC semifinalist); Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards); The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; New Jersey Governor’s Awards; UCROSS; American Blues Theater; and Athena Project. Her work has been further supported by Lime Arts Productions, Permafrost Theatre Collective, NextStage Theatre Company, Mad Cow Theatre, Samuel-Lancaster Productions, Mayo Performing Arts Center, The Valdez Last Frontier Theatre Conference, The Blank Theater Company, AstonRep, AlterTheater Ensemble and Access Theater NYC. She is currently a member of The Road Theatre’s Under Construction 2021-22 Cohort and is also partnered in the inaugural AGE: Ignite the Arts Spring 2021 Cohort. Sharma is represented by CHI Talent Management and KMR & Associates.
Carlos-Zenen Trujillo was born in Bejucal, Cuba, and has been an Oregonian since 2006. Carlos acknowledges that they live and work on the ancestral lands of the Kalapuya peoples. Their writing work includes: “The Island in Winter or La Isla en Invierno” (Inaugural Problem Play Project Commission); “Abundancia” (Reading; Matchbox Theatre); “Christmas, Contigo” (Oregon Cabaret); and “Our Utopia” (Bag & Baggage Productions; Fertile Ground). Their acting work includes: Alfie Byrne in “A Man of No Importance;” Tutor in “Elektra;” and Teacher in “Small Mouth Sounds” (Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University); Patrick Chibas in “Spinning into Butter” (Bag & Baggage Productions); Chorus in “Oedipus” (Isolation Theatre); Understudy: Toby/Pirelli in “Sweeney Todd” (Oregon Cabaret Theatre); Nurse/Prince/Sampson in “Romeo y Julieta” (Seattle Shakespeare Company); Letter Writer Three in “Tiny Beautiful Things” (Rogue Theatre Company); and OSF Acting Company Trainee 2020. Their honors include: Certificate of Merit in Dramaturgy (“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”); Irene Ryan Award nominations (“A Man of No Importance;” “Elektra”); Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) ASPIRE Leadership Fellow 2019, KCACTF John Cauble Award. They also are a KCACTF Directing Fellow 2020. Trujillo has a BFA in Theatre Arts from SOU.
To learn more about the new playwrights, and for updates about the Ashland New Plays Festival, see ashlandnewplays.org.
Ashland New Plays Festival will present readings of new works by playwrights Thomas Brandon, Meghan Brown, Andrew Lee Creech and Tylie Shider at its flagship annual event, which is scheduled to run Oct. 20-24, officials announced Wednesday.
The 29th annual Fall Festival will feature in-person evening and matinée performances followed by audience talkbacks with the playwrights. There also will be a playwriting workshop taught by the winning playwrights, as well as several opportunities for audiences to engage in the festival virtually.
“This is the first year I have had the opportunity and responsibility of selecting the four winning plays,” said ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca. “The finalist pool, chosen through a vigorous process completed by our 70 devoted readers over 10 months, included 12 truly compelling plays. Our four winning playwrights stood out for their unique, original stories told through engaging characters. I am truly grateful that we are able to bring these powerful new works to our community.”
The winning plays explore family, love, oppression, healing, and more, told in an exciting range of settings, from a cattle ranch in 1884 to New Jersey in 1967, during the Renaissance in Italy, and a park that exists out of time.
Television writer and playwright Thomas Brandon’s “Pocket Universe” is a mind-bending story about true love and the reckless hope that opens our hearts, even in the face of inevitable heartbreak.
Meghan Brown, a self-proclaimed writer about dangerous women, focuses on Shakespeare’s Hero in her new play “What Happened While Hero Was Dead,” where after the end of “Much Ado About Nothing,” Hero finds herself embroiled in false rumors and discovers that being dead might be the best thing that could’ve happened to her life.
Next, set at the tail end of the Cowboy Golden Age, “Last Drive to Dodge” by Andrew Lee Creech, a Seattle-based writer, performer and popular social media content creator, is an examination of race, love and legacy in a time when everyone is scrambling for their piece of the American Dream. It’s also part of a planned nine-play series about Black Americans at pivotal moments in American history.
Two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome fellow and playwriting professor Tylie Shider’s “Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family” is an intimate drama about a disintegrated American family in the long hot summer of 1967 in Plainfield, NJ, as they try to repair and re-migrate south; however, racial tensions erupt in the city and threaten to thwart the family’s dreams for the future.
The winning playwrights receive a $1,500 stipend and a weeklong workshop of their plays with professional directors and actors.
Ticket sales for ANPF 2021 will open to the public in September. ANPF members receive advance access and discounts on tickets. Visit ashlandnewplays.org to learn more.