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AMERICAN THEATRE | Theater J Commissions 7 Playwrights for Increasing the Canon Initiative


Playwrights Carolivia Herron, Harley Elias, Thaddeus McCants, M.J. Kang, Kendell Pinkney, Jesse Jae Hoon, and Zachariah Ezer. (Photograph by Theater J).

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Theater J has chosen seven playwrights for its Increasing the Canon initiative, introduced earlier this yr. Playwrights Harley Elias, Zachariah Ezer, Carolivia Herron, Jesse Jae Hoon, M.J. Kang, Thaddeus McCants, and Kendell Pinkney will create new full-length performs over the following two and a half years that thematically and visually middle ethnically and racially numerous Jewish narratives. This system seeks to appropriate and broaden the traditionally restricted portrayals of Jewishness on U.S. phases and world wide.  

After receiving submissions from 82 writers, Theater J creative employees interviewed finalists and chosen the seven playwrights who will obtain a $10,000 fee and a $5,000 developmental funds for use for readings, workshops, analysis, and journey over the following two and a half years.

“I’m past enthusiastic about this undertaking,” stated Edlavitch DCJCC CEO Dava Schub in a press release. “Because the JCC in our nation’s capital, and with the help of the Covenant Basis, we’re poised to develop the narrative of Jewish tales being informed on phases throughout the nation and create house for brand new extraordinary storytellers to be seen, celebrated, and supported by way of this three-year fee course of.”

This system kicked off Aug. 28-30 with a three-day intensive Beit Midrash (studying house) led by Rosh Beit Sabrina Sojourner, a Shaliakh Tzibur and nationally acknowledged Jewish chief. This intensive studying course of allowed the playwrights to interact with texts and talk about Jewish thought and custom inspiring them as they start to craft their performs.

All through the fee, writers will meet month-to-month to proceed to study, share further assets, and workshop written materials. Excerpts of the completed scripts will likely be shared in a remaining gathering in December 2024. All commissioned scripts will likely be strongly thought-about for Theater J mainstage productions. 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Increasing the Canon,” stated Sojourner in a press release, “to be a part of a corporation dedicated to supporting, nurturing, and enhancing connections between Jewish artists of colour. Most significantly, we’re all wanting ahead to the tales they’ll convey to the bigger Jewish neighborhood and the world.”

Increasing the Canon is made doable largely by funds granted by The Covenant Basis. The Beit Midrash is made doable partially by a microgrant from the Jews of Shade Initiative.  

“Being from a blended household of Ashkenazi and Mexican Syrian Jewish descent,” stated Theater J’s managing director, David Lloyd Olson, in a press release, “I’ve all the time understood the Jewish expertise to be extra vibrant and numerous than nearly all of Jewish playwriting. We’re grateful for the help of the Covenant Basis, whose funding will assist us add layers to the portrait of Jewishness by commissioning performs that middle the multiracial and multiethnic tales which have all the time been and can proceed to be part of the Jewish expertise.”

Harley Elias is a playwright and performer from New York Metropolis. He has been the recipient of residencies on the Atlantic Heart for the Arts, with Resonance Ensemble, a Fulbright Grant, a Samuel French OOB Award, and the Younger Playwrights Award. His Play #3 is revealed by Samuel French. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in historical past from Stanford and is presently pursuing an MFA within the playwriting program at Brown College.

Zachariah Ezer’s performs embody The Freedom Trade (The Playwrights Heart, New York Stage & Movie), Deal with the Physique! (The Echo Theater Firm), and An Unclear World (Hello-ARTS), amongst others. Chosen awards embody the College of Texas’s James A. Michener Fellowship, the Playwrights Heart’s Core Apprenticeship, Hello-ARTS’ Essential Breaks Residency, Echo Theater Firm’s Nationwide Younger Playwrights Residency, City Levels’ Sokoloff Arts Inventive Fellowship, Greatest Play on the Woodside Gamers of Queens Summer season Play Competition, BUFU’s EYEDREAM Residency, and Wesleyan College’s Olin Fellowship.

Carolivia Herron is a Jewish African American novelist, librettist, and educator who teaches classics within the English Division of Howard College. Her revealed and produced works embody Thereafter Johnnie (novel), Let Freedom Sing: The Story of Marian Anderson (opera libretto, music composed by Bruce Adolphe); Nappy Hair, At all times An Olivia (youngsters’s books); and The Chosen Works of Angelina Weld Grimké (scholarship). She has additionally held professorial appointments at Harvard College, Mount Holyoke Faculty, Chico State College, and the Faculty of William and Mary.

Jesse Jae Hoon is a playwright, actor, and organizer. Performs embody Anyone Is Wanting Again at MeDong Xuan Heart (2022 Princess Grace Fellowship Finalist, 2019 O’Neill NPC Finalist), On the ClockI’ve Acquired A Sinking Feeling within the Pit of My AbdomenThe Home of Billy PaulEmergency Wine & Cheese Fundraiser of the Amagansett Democrats’ Affiliation (2022 O’Neill NPC Semifinalist), and 12 Chairs. MFA in playwriting from Hunter Faculty, BFA in drama from NYU Tisch (Playwrights Horizons). Organizer with Democratic Socialists of America and Fairness Subsequent.

M.J. Kang is a playwright, actor, and director, based mostly in Los Angeles and Montreal. She’s lately been awarded The Breath Undertaking New Play Award 2022 and has been commissioned by Portland Playhouse, Shotgun Gamers, and AFO Solo Shorts.  She continues to be a part of the Playwrights Group at Firm of Angels (second yr), The Barrow Group’s Restorative Tales with Seth Barrish (second yr,) and is a part of the Author’s Pool at Playground-LA. She’s had her performs produced by Son of Semele, Pan Asian Rep, East West Gamers, Theater Passe Muraille, Tarragon Theater, Manufacturing unit Theater, Blyth Competition Theater, Shakespeare in Motion, AFO Solo Shorts, Shotgun Gamers, and lots of others.

Thaddeus McCants is a Brooklyn-based author, director, and performer initially from Madison, Wisc. As a playwright, he’s a present NYTW 2050 Fellow, Theater Masters Visionary Playwright, KCACTF Nationwide Finalist, Goldberg New Play Prize Finalist, and has been a Semi-Finalist for each the Eugene O’Neill Nationwide Playwrights Convention & American Blues Theatre Blue Ink Award.

Kendell Pinkney is a Brooklyn-based theatre artist, producer, and rabbi who creates artwork on the intersections of race, ethnicity, collective reminiscence, spiritual id, and sacred textual content. His collaborative theatre works have been offered or developed at venues akin to 54 Beneath, Joe’s Pub, LABA @ the 14th St. Y, and Two River Theatre, to call a number of. Most lately, he was featured within the acclaimed docuseries The New Jew with actor-comedian Guri Alfi and on Crooked Media’s Unholier than Thou podcast.

Theater J is an expert theatre and program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Neighborhood Heart (EDCJCC) which goals to have a good time, discover, and wrestle with the complexities and nuances of each the Jewish expertise and the common human situation. As one of many nation’s largest and most distinguished Jewish theatres, Theater J goals to protect and develop a wealthy Jewish theatrical custom and to create neighborhood and commonality by way of theatregoing experiences.

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