Last year, Playwrights Theatre began the New Jersey Emerging Women Playwrights Project (NJEWP) as part of its larger ongoing effort to provide meaningful support to playwrights through an authentic development process that focuses on the specific and individual needs of the writer.
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 playSong of Extinctionand the 2008 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman theater artist forHeads, both from the American Theater Critics Association.
In 2012, Lewis taught and mentored young playwrights in the New Voices Program in Richmond, Virginia and reprised her role as host playwright at the Ashland New Plays Festival. She had college productions of her plays Song of Extinction and Heads. She received her first commission, to write a history play for Premiere Stages in New Jersey. She finished a new play called If I Did This (semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award), that was workshopped at Passage Theater and received a staged reading from Flux Theater Ensemble in New York City. And her play Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday had its world premiere at HotCity Theater in St. Louis in September.
Lewis is now working on an intimate two-hander set in her home state of Oregon, and an epic play set in Antarctica called Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World. 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. Porter performed at the opening of the Peter Eisenman Building at the University of Cincinnati, was the hostesscomedienne-scene changer for the Minnesota Composers Forum's New Music Concert, performed for Mikhail Baryshnikov's 2009 GALA, set a solo on Kansas City Ballet and performs her Namely, Muscles, recipient of the NYC Fringe Festival 2010's Overall Excellence Award, at festivals, conferences, theaters, medical schools and universities. Porter has received several NEA Choreography Fellowships, NJSCA Choreography Fellowships, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Awards, Live Music for Dance Award and Commissions from DTW's First Light Project, The 92nd St Y Harkness Dance Festival, Art Matters, Meet The Composer, VOGUE Magazine, University Dance Companies, and Domino's Pizza Company. Porter has an MA in Dance from Ohio State, a BA in Mathematics, is a Laban Movement Analyst, and is represented by PENTACLE/DanceWorks NYC.