Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director) and Barry Grove (Executive Producer) are pleased to announce this year’s six recipients of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions. The commissioned writers are J. Nicole Brooks, Diane Exavier, Franky D. Gonzalez, Charlie Oh, Kristin Slaney, and Else Went.
“As theatres begin to reopen their doors after a singularly challenging year, we are delighted to announce this exceptional lineup of newly commissioned playwrights,” said Scott Kaplan, Manhattan Theatre Club’s Director of Play Development. “We selected these artists due to their remarkable ability to interweave their thrilling artistic perspectives with urgent scientific and technological themes. We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for nearly 20 years of support for this unparalleled opportunity for playwrights to bring these pressing issues to exhilarating theatrical life.”
“We are proud to support these six new play commissions by six talented playwrights who propose to incorporate scientific themes and characters with originality and insight,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “The pathbreaking MTC/Sloan partnership of almost two decades has resulted in wonderful plays that have been produced in major theatres around the globe and transformed how we view both science and theatre.”
J. Nicole Brooks (she/they) is an actor, author, director, educator, gremlin, stargazer, and social justice warrior based in Chicago. Brooks’ writing practice includes playwriting, screenwriting, essays, and poetry. As a theatre artist, Brooks is an ensemble member and Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. Upcoming writing projects and commissions include an adaptation of Eve L. Ewing’s 1919 for Steppenwolf Theatre, Rainbow Beach for Chicago Children’s Choir, Black Moon Lilith at Williamstown, and various audio and screenplays in development. Honors include TCG Fox Foundation, 3Arts, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Kilroys List, and the 2021 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for Her Honor Jane Byrne.
Diane Exavier is a writer, theatremaker, and educator who creates performances that invite audiences to participate in a theatre that rejects passive reception. Rooted in Caribbean Diaspora, Diane explores what she calls the 4L’s: love, loss, legacy, and land. Intersecting performance and poetry, her work has been presented at BRIC Arts, Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, and more. Diane is a 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow Finalist. Her book-length lyric The Math of Saint Felix is forthcoming from The 3rd Thing Press in 2021. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Franky D. Gonzalez is a Latino playwright based out of Dallas and Los Angeles. His work has appeared with The Lark, the Sundance Institute, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Latinx Playwrights Circle, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Goodman Theatre, The New Harmony Project, Repertorio Español, LAByrinth Theater Company, Ars Nova, and Dallas Theater Center among others. Franky was also a staff writer on “13 Reasons Why” Season Four and most recently was named the 4 Seasons Resident Playwright, a Sony Pictures Television Diverse Writers Program Fellow, a Playwrights Center Core Writer, and the Playwright-in-Residence of the Bishop Arts Theatre Center.
Charlie Oh is a playwright/lyricist/actor. He is a fellow at The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. His work has been developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, NYC Songspace, The Brooklyn Generator, and Catwalk Writer's Residency. His play Long won the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Award In Playwriting, placed second for the Mark Twain Prize for Comedic Playwriting, and was a 2019 Honorable Mention for The American Playwriting Foundation's Relentless Award. He is a winner of the Disney/NMI 2018 New Voices Project, and The Craig Carnelia Songwriting Award. Acting: The King and I directed by Bartlett Sher, "All These Small Moments" (Tribeca Film Festival).
Kristin Slaney is a playwright and screenwriter, originally from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and based in Brooklyn. Her plays include Hockey Messiah (MTC’s Ted Snowdon Reading Series, winner of the Columbia@Roundabout Reading Series, Kilroy List Honorable mention, Canada Council grant winner, upcoming world premiere with Neptune Theatre), King of Berlin (QueerActs Festival, Neptune Theatre reading series), Let’s Hex the President (Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab), After Eepersip Disappeared (Ship’s Company Theatre production), among others. Kristin is an alum of EST’s Obie Award-winning playwriting group Youngblood. MFA: Columbia University.
Else Went (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based playwright and current member of The Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. Their work has been previously developed with The Tank, International Shakespeare Center, and The Brick. Former fellow at MacDowell, Playwrights Realm, and Trans Theatre Lab @ WP & The Public. Commissions from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation & MTC, Parity Productions, Weston Playhouse, Period Piece, and Florida Studio Theatre. Else has received residencies from Stillwright and Barn Arts Collective. Semifinalist for ASC's Shakespeare's New Contemporaries (Courage!) and the O'Neill Conference (Initiative). Current finalist for New Contemporaries (Whate'er). Else is the co-founder and playwright of The Renovationists, and also serves variously as a sound designer.
Since 2001, MTC has awarded a total of 100 commissions through the Sloan Foundation Program. MTC first collaborated with the Sloan Foundation in 2000 on the production of David Auburn’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof. MTC's partnership with the Sloan Foundation has expanded to include multiple annual commissions for writers as well as production grants to stage Sloan-related works. In addition to Proof, Sloan supported MTC’s productions of Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s adaptation of An Enemy of the People, Sharr White’s The Other Place, Nell Benjamin’s The Explorers Club, Nick Payne’s Constellations and Incognito, and Bess Wohl’s Continuity.
Since partnering with the Sloan Foundation, MTC has commissioned the following writers: Brittany K. Allen, Kevin Armento, Kate Attwell, Jeff Augustin, Courtney Baron & Juliana Nash, Jaclyn Backhaus, Clare Barron, Stephen Belber, Nell Benjamin, Glen Berger, Eboni Booth, Nina Braddock, Sarah Burgess, Christopher Chen, Mia Chung, Steve Cosson, EV Crowe, Lisa D’Amour, April de Angelis, Noah Diaz, Jessica Dickey, Charles Evered, Kendall Feaver, Stella Feehily, Halley Feiffer & Joshua Schmidt, Selina Fillinger, Nick Gandiello, Gracie Gardner, Madeleine George, Melissa James Gibson, Daniel Goldfarb, Rinne Groff, Dipika Guha, Alan Harris, Jiréh Breon Holder, Tom Holloway, Phillip Howze, Jessica Huang, Sam Hunter, Ron Hutchinson, Ife Olujobi, Julia Izumi, Nathan Jackson, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Nick Jones, Deirdre Kinahan, Lucy Kirkwood, Bryony Lavery, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Kenneth Lin, Ethan Lipton, Craig Lucas, Martyna Majok, Caroline V. McGraw, Michael Mitnick, Peter Morris, Hannah Moscovitch, Itamar Moses, Rona Munro, Brett Neveu, Barney Norris, Jiehae Park, Nick Payne, Greg Pierce, Max Posner, Hannie Rayson, Stacey Rose, Melissa Ross, Heidi Schreck, Mark Schultz, Jen Silverman, Eric Simonson, Charly Evon Simpson, Al Smith, Dava Sobel, Celine Song, Deborah Stein, Simon Stephens, Shelagh Stephenson, Andrew Thompson, Sarah Treem, Catherine Trieschmann, James Anthony Tyler, John Walch, Anne Washburn, Jason Wells, Michael West, Beau Willimon, Bess Wohl, Alexandra Wood, Alexis Zegerman, and Anna Ziegler.
ABOUT THE ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York based, philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that makes grants in four areas: research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Vice President and Program Director Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theatre, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.
Sloan's Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past two decades, Sloan has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country - including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, USC, and six public film schools - and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, SFFILM, the Athena Film Festival, the Black List, Film Independent, the Athena Film Festival, and the North Fork TV Festival and has helped develop over 25 feature films such as Tesla, Radium Girls, Adventures of a Mathematician, One Man Dies a Million Times, To Dust, The Sound of Silence, The Catcher Was a Spy, The Imitation Game, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Operator, and Experimenter. The Foundation has also supported theatrical documentaries such as Father of the Cyborgs, In Silico, Coded Bias, Picture a Scientist, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Particle Fever, and Jacques Perrin’s Oceans.
The Foundation has an active theatre program and commissions about twenty science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the National Theatre, as well as supporting select productions across the country and abroad. Recent grants have supported Bess Wohl’s Continuity, Charly Evon Simpson’s Behind the Sheet, Chiara Atik’s Bump, Leigh Fondakowski’s SPILL, Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes, Nick Payne’s Constellations, Lucas Hnath’s Isaac’s Eye, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. The Foundation’s book program includes early support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which became an Oscar-nominated film and a social and cultural milestone.
For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit www.sloan.org or follow the Foundation on Twitter and Facebook at @SloanPublic.
ABOUT MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB
MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over more than four decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including 7 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 Tony Awards, 40 Drama Desk Awards and 49 Obie Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). For more information on MTC, please visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.
MTC is committed to doing the ongoing institutional work to reassess our practices and to reaffirm our goal of achieving an anti-racist organization which respects and honors all of the voices heretofore underrepresented in our industry. For more information on the actions we are taking, please visit https://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/edi/
While physical stages remain dark across America, Manhattan Theatre Club invites audiences to gather virtually as a community and find connection, inspiration, and entertainment through a series of virtual theatrical experiences from the comfort of their homes. Up-to-date information about all MTC Virtual Stage initiatives can always be found at www.manhattantheatreclub.com/virtual.