After learning who else was taking part in Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) and Company One's XX PlayLab Festival, I knew I had to make it happen. Over the past few weeks, I've taken the opportunity to speak with the playwrights, directors, dramaturgs and panelists involved in this exciting nearly sold-out three-day the festival. I'll be sharing their interviews over the course of the next few days. For now, take a little time to get to know these amazing artists.
Meet the Playwrights
LYDIA R. DIAMOND (Smart People)
Lydia R. Diamond’s plays include: Stick Fly (’10 Irne Award – Best Play, ’10 LA Critics Circle Awards, ’10 LA Garland Award – Playwriting, ’08 Susan S. Blackburn Finalist, ‘06 Black Theatre Alliance Award – Best Play), Voyeurs de Venus (’06 Joseph Jefferson Award – Best New Work, ‘06 BTAA – Best Writing), The Bluest Eye (’06 Black Arts Alliance Image Award – Best New Play, ‘08 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award), The Gift Horse (’05 Theadore Ward Prize, Kesselring Prize 2nd Place), Harriet Jacobs, Stage Black, and Lizzie Stranton (2008 Boston University Playwriting Initiative Commision). Theatres include: Arena Stage, Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Everyman Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre Co., Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Rep, L.A. Theatre Works, Long Wharf, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, McCarter Theatre Co., Mo’Olelo Theatre Co., MPAACT, New Vic, Playmakers Rep, Plowshares Theatre Co., Providence Black Rep, Steppenwolf, TrueColors, The Matrix, Underground Railway Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and The Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Lydia’s plays have been produced at Universities around the country including: Duke University, Howard University, Emerson College, Boston University, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin, Columbia College Chicago, Spelman College, University of California – San Marcos, and University of Maryland. Lydia has been commissioned by: Steppenwolf, McCarter, Huntington, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville/Victory Gardens, Humana, Boston University, and The Roundabout. Stick Fly and Harriet Jacobs are published by NU Press, Bluest Eye, Gift Horse, Stage Black – Dramatic Publishing. Lydia was a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, an 06/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, 2009 NEA/Arena Stage New Play Development Grant Finalist, is a TCG Executive Board Member, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts Recipient from Pine Manor College, and a recent recipient of the Huntington Theatre’s 2011 Wimbley Award.
KIRSTEN GREENIDGE (Splendor Lit Beneath Their Bones)
Kirsten Greenidge’s work shines a strong light on the intersection of race and class in America, and she enjoys the challenge of placing underrepresented voices on stage. In May 2012 Kirsten received an Obie for her play Milk Like Sugar which was first commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse and TheaterMasters, and then produced at La Jolla and then Playwright’s Horizons as a coproduction with Women’s Theater Project. Milk Like Sugar was also award a TCG Edgerton grant as well as a San Diego Critics Award. Boston audiences might be familiar with Kirsten’s latest play The Luck of the Irish, which was presented at the Huntington Theater Company in the spring of 2012 and enjoyed a warm reception and extended run. A former NEA/TCG playwright in residence at Woolly Mammoth, previous work includes several Boston Theater Marathon pieces, Bossa Nova (Yale Rep, 2010 and also an Edgerton New Play Award recipient), Thanksgiving in Company One’s Grimm (2010), Rust (The Magic Theater, 2007), 103 Within the Veil (Company One, 2005) and Sans Culottes in the Promised Land (Humana, 2004). She has enjoyed development experiences at Sundance, Sundance at UCross, the O’Neil, Pacific Playwrights Festival (South Coast Rep), and Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Kirsten was the inaugural fellowship for Page 73’s playwrighting fellowship program. Current projects include commissions from CompanyOne, Yale Rep, Denver Center Theater, The Goodman, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, and Emerson Stage, where she and director Melia Bensussen will adapt the Pulitzer Prize winning book Common Ground. Early in her career Kirsten was a recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Award and the Mark David Cohen Award by the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival. She attended Wesleyan University and The Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa. She is an Assistant Professor of Theater at Boston University's Center for Fine Art as well as being a resident playwright at New Dramatists she is a member of Boston’s Rhombus writing group.
NATALIA NAMAN (XX playwright: The Old Ship of Zion)
Natalia Naman is a playwright living in Boston, MA. Her plays include THE OLD SHIP OF ZION, JESS & DJ: A BABY MAMA DRAMEDY, LAWNPEOPLE, DROUGHT, SO NOT FAIR and CROSSING OVER. Her work has been developed/performed at the Lark Play Development Center, NYU, Princeton University, HERE Arts Center, The Cherry Pit, New Georges, and Boston Playwrights' Theatre. She graduated from Princeton University with a BA in English and NYU Tisch with an MFA in Dramatic Writing.
Meet the Directors
SHAWN LACOUNT (Splendor Lit Beneath Their Bones)
Shawn LaCount is a co-founder of Company One, a resident theatre company at the Boston Center for the Arts. Recent directorial credits include the Boston premieres of BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO by Rajiv Joseph; THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY by Kristoffer Diaz (IRNE Award nominee for Best Director and Best Production); Annie Baker's THE ALIENS (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production), the world premiere of GRIMM (IRNE Award nominee for Best New Play), the Boston premiere of THE OVERWHELMING by JT Rogers (Elliot Norton Award nominee for Outstanding Drama, Fringe); the Boston premiere of Haruki Murakami’s AFTER THE QUAKE (Elliot Norton Award nominee for Outstanding Drama, Fringe); Stephen Sondheim’s ASSASSINS (IRNE nomination for Best Director and Best Musical); the Boston premiere of Noah Haidle’s MR. MARMALADE (Elliot Norton Award nominee for Outstanding Director/Outstanding Drama); the Boston premiere of AFTER ASHLEY by Gina Gionfriddo; and Anthony Burgess’ A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (featuring original music by the Dresden Dolls). Local college directing credits include Adam Rapp's PARAFFIN and NURSING at Emerson Stage. Shawn holds an MA Ed in theatre Education from Clark University and an MFA in Directing from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has taught at the Boston Arts Academy, Huntington Theatre Company, Tufts University, Stage One and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
MEGAN SANDBERG-ZAKIAN (The Old Ship of Zion)
Megan Sandberg-Zakian is a current recipient of the Theater Communication Group (TCG) “Future Leaders” grant to spend two seasons at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, working on a series of publically-engaged development and production projects. This January she will direct The Mountaintop for Underground Railway Theater (URT). Other recent directing projects include: The Brother Sister Plays at Company One (IRNE Award: Best Production; IRNE nominee: Best Director; Elliot Norton Nominee: Best Production), Lydia Diamond’s Harriet Jacobs at URT (Elliot Norton Nominee: Best New Play; IRNE Nominee: Best Ensemble, Best Actress) and the RI premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Perishable Theatre/Trinity Repertory Company (Motif Awards: Best Production, Best Set Design, Best Actor). Megan has served as Associate Artistic Director of the Providence Black Repertory Company (RI) and The 52nd Street Project (NYC). She is a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. www.megansz.com
SUMMER WILLIAMS (Smart People)
Summer L. Williams has been with Company One since its inception in 1998. An active member of the Board of Directors, Summer is a producer, director and educator for Company One. Her most recent directing credits include THE BROTHERS SIZE and MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET as part of the THE BROTHER/SISTER PLAYS (2012 Elliot Norton Award nominated for Outstanding Production and winner of the 2012 IRNE Award for Best Play). Regional credits: NEIGHBORS, GRIMM, THE GOOD NEGRO, VOYEURS DE VENUS (Winner of 2009 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director), THE BLUEST EYE (IRNE and Elliot Norton Award nominated), THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, SPELL #7 (IRNE nominated), JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN (2004 Elliot Norton Award for Best Fringe Production) TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992 (IRNE nominated). Ms. Williams has also directed for the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, Clark University, Brandeis University, The Theatre Offensive and Huntington Theatre Company.
Meet the Dramaturgs
ILANA BROWNSTEIN (Smart People and Splendor Lit Beneath Their Bones)
Ilana M. Brownstein is a Boston-based dramaturg & director specializing in new play development. She is Founding Dramaturg at Playwrights’ Commons (a playwright development organization), Director of New Work at Company One, and on faculty with BU’s School of Theatre. Formerly, she was Literary Manager at the Huntington, where she created the Huntington Playwriting Fellows and the Breaking Ground Festival, for which she won the Elliott Hayes Award for innovation in dramaturgy. She has ushered new plays to premiere on Boston stages,
regionally, and on Broadway. Last summer, she was the O'Neill Theatre Center's dramaturgy delegate for the first Stage Island Baltic/American Playwrights Conference in Estonia. She is an advocate for emerging playwrights and dramaturgs, and holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from Yale, and a BA in Directing from The College of
TYLER J. MONROE (The Old Ship of Zion)
Tyler J. Monroe is a playwright, dramaturg, and educator based in Boston. He holds a BA in Theatre from Butler University and an MFA in Dramaturgy from the A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He has worked as a dramaturg with Chicago theater companies About Face Theatre, Halcyon Theatre Company, and the Blank Line Collective. In Boston, he has worked with, Company One, Fresh Ink Theatre, and the American Repertory Theatre. His adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen received its world premier in 2011 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, and his adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's work (Tales of Poe) was a part of New Repertory Theatre's New Rep on Tour series in Watertown, MA. He is an Artistic Associate and Staff Dramaturg with Company One, and teaches Movement Arts and leads the drama club at the Edward Brooke Charter School in Boston.