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Old Vic, Roundabout, and ACT Join Kenyon Playwrights Conference

May 6, 2017

Three major U.S. and U.K. theaters will join forces at the Kenyon Playwrights Conference on June 11-17 in Gambier, OH, in a unique new play commissioning process under the aegis of the Kenyon Institute. London’s Old Vic, New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company, and Seattle’s ACT will be in residence at the conference with three acclaimed playwrights who will develop work for future production. The Conference also welcomes interested playwrights from across the U.S. to join in a weeklong new-play-development workshop led by the literary leaders of each theater, artistic director Wendy MacLeod, and associate artistic director Ben Viccellio.

Representing the theaters will be Old Vic Creative Producer Georgia Gatti, Roundabout Director of New Play Development Jill Rafson, and ACT Literary and Artistic Manager Emily Penick. Playwrights under commission this year are: Diana Nneka Atuona (Old Vic), Philip Dawkins (Roundabout), and Steven Dietz (ACT).

“We offer playwrights a week away from the madding crowd, to write, rewrite, and hear their works-in-progress within a supportive community of playwrights and in collaboration with their sponsoring theater,” commented MacLeod. “Our workshop participants will also be developing new work, working daily with industry professionals. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the top theaters on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Now entering its fifth year, the Kenyon Playwrights Conference develops partnerships with an international group of theaters, which have a particular interest in producing new work. Three partner companies each select a playwright for this special fellowship, and Kenyon funds a commission for each theater while taking no future interest in the play that results. In June, the playwright and the partner company’s literary representative are in residence at Kenyon for an intensive two-week period. At the conclusion of the two weeks, Kenyon provides a group of five professional actors to perform a rehearsed reading for members of the Conference. Kenyon College students serve as additional actors and assistants. At the end of the summer, one of these Kenyon interns goes to a partner company for an internship that is fully funded by the Conference.

A weeklong playwriting workshop for adults, offered in the second week of the playwrights’ residency, gives professional and pre-professional playwrights the opportunity to work on their own scripts. These programs, which involve both in-class and independent writing time, are staffed by a coordinating artistic director and associate director as well as the literary managers or associate artistic directors of the participating companies. Adult students have the opportunity to hear excerpts of their own work while benefiting from the contact with the professional commissioning teams.

The Old Vic is one of London’s most storied theaters and has launched the careers of some of England’s greatest actors, from Edmund Kean to John Gielgud, Richard Burton, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, and Ian McKellen. Under the artistic leadership of Kevin Spacey and, most recently, Matthew Warchus, the theater has produced an array of new work for the West End and Broadway. The Roundabout Theatre Company has an equally distinguished history; it has received 26 Tony Awards and is now home to five Broadway stages that produce both new work and the classics. ACT–A Contemporary Theatre, located in the heart of downtown Seattle, produces new plays and offers new play development and commissioning programs for playwrights, beginning in high school, to its ambitious New Works for the American Stage program.

The Kenyon Playwrights Conference has worked with numerous U.S. and U.K. companies and their playwrights, including Atlantic Theater Company (Craig Lucas and Heidi Schreck), Bush Theatre (Michaela Coel), Center Stage (James Magruder), Hampstead Theatre (Rona Munro), La Jolla Playhouse (Kirsten Greenidge), Manhattan Theatre Club (Halley Feiffer), Playwrights Horizons (Kirk Lynn), Paines Plough (Tom Wells), Royal Exchange Theatre (Charlene James), Steppenwolf Theatre (Tracy Scott Wilson), and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Greg Moss).

Playwrights interested interested in enrolling in the workshop can register online at beginning October 18.

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