National New Play Network Announces Rolling World Premieres by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and Karen Hartman

May 16, 2017

Washington, D.C. - National New Play Network, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays, announces its 70th and 71st  Rolling World Premieres: Br’er Cotton by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and Project Dawn by Karen Hartman. The two plays will receive a total of 6 NNPN RWP productions, with each play seeing at least three distinct productions in a discrete 12-month period.

Br’er Cotton  by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm will Roll through Core Members Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas, TX; June 9-July 1, 2017) and Cleveland Public Theatre (OH; March 29-April 21, 2018), as well as Associate Member Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble (Los Angeles, CA; September 23-October 15, 2017).

Project Dawn by Karen Hartman will kick off its Roll at Associate Member People’s Light (Malvern, PA; June 14-July 7, 2017), followed by productions at Core Members Horizon Theatre Company (Atlanta, GA; September 22-October 29, 2017) and Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City, MO; January 24-February 18, 2018).

In an NNPN Rolling World Premiere, the Network provides production support to the playwright and the partnering theaters, including assistance with the creation and the contracting of the premiere agreement, collaborative interactions between the theaters, and travel and housing funds for the playwright to further develop the play in each city.


Lynchburg, Virginia. The former site of a thriving cotton mill is now an impoverished neighborhood. Deeply affected by all the recent killings of young black men like himself, Ruffrino, a 14 year old “militant,” incites riots at school and online. More and more at odds with his mother and grandfather, the boys’ anger grows beyond containment while the family home literally sinks into the cotton field, and no one seems to notice but him.

Br’er Cotton tackles complicated issues of racism and racial identity through the lens of three generations’ wildly differing attitudes and responses. The play raises difficult questions that have no easy answers and does it in a way that is fiercely theatrical, fresh, and innovative.


Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm is a current member of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard and a recent MFA Playwriting graduate from the Catholic University of America. His play Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies will receive its World Premiere at Mosaic Theatre in Washington, D.C. this year and will be followed by the World Premiere of his play Br’er Cotton at Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas, TX. His work has been developed with the Signature Theatre, Theatre J, Theatre Alliance, Endstation Theatre, The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. He was named a “Person to Watch” by American Theatre Magazine and a “Rising Star” by Variety. He was a finalist for the inaugural Relentless Award and London's 503 Theatre Award. He was named winner of bot the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award at KCACTF 2016.


The mission of Kitchen Dog Theater (KDT) remains as relevant today as when the company was founded 26 years ago: to provide a place where questions of justice, morality, and human freedom can be explored – whether they are found in the classics, contemporary works or new plays. KDT consistently offers artists the opportunity to take on challenging roles, make bold choices in direction/design, and wrestle with big questions. The characters and stories at KDT have populated ancient cities and contemporary trailer parks. Woven among all the productions are the adherence to our mission and artistry of the highest caliber.


Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble is fervently working to curate future seasons of classic, contemporary and original material from some of the world’s finest playwrights. We are excited to bring our audience a play list that is as wide as it is varied. From re-imagined adaptations of Greek drama, Irish comedy and Russian realism to modern examinations of American racial history, Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble is committed to offering our audience thought provoking, challenging and humorous looks at the human spirit. We bring to our productions a commitment to excellence, talent, craft and years of theatre experience. Our aim is to explore the truth and reality that lies beneath the lower depth of our existence.


Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission is to raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performances and life-changing educational programs. CPT develops new, adventurous work; and nurtures Northeastern Ohio artists — particularly those whose work is inventive, intelligent, and socially conscious. CPT’s acclaimed education programs engage underserved youth and adults in creating new works that speak to contemporary issues, and empower participants to work for positive change in the community.


Philadelphia is home to a revolutionary court designed by a passionate and shockingly funny group of women. Every day these lawyers, judges, parole officers, and staff work to transform the lives of women repeatedly convicted for prostitution. In this daring and vital new play in which seven actresses portray multiple participants and members of the court, Karen Hartman probes the thin lines between freedom and slavery, activism and obsession for women on both sides of the law. Inspired by Hartman’s extensive first–hand research inside Project Dawn Court, this play is the first world premiere from the nationally renowned New Play Frontiers Residency & Commission program at People’s Light.


Karen Hartman has four productions of three world premiere plays in the 2016/17 season: ROZ AND RAY at Seattle Repertory Theater and Victory Gardens, THE BOOK OF JOSEPH at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and PROJECT DAWN at People’s Light. In 2014-15, Ms. Hartman held the Playwright Center’s McKnight Residency and Commission for a nationally recognized playwright. Hartman’s personal and political essays have been published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. A New Dramatists alumna, Ms. Hartman grew up in San Diego and graduated from Yale University and the Yale School of Drama. She lived in Brooklyn until 2014, when she became Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle. For information about her other plays:


People’s Light, a professional theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration.


Horizon Theatre Company has been a leader in the production and development of professional contemporary theatre in Atlanta since 1983. Our mission is to connect people, inspire hope, and promote positive change through the stories of our times. We strive to empower and unite audiences with works that celebrate who we are, build bridges between our diverse audiences and offer new perspectives on our ever-changing world – stories that are entertaining, thought provoking, relevant, accessible, and fresh to Atlantans. Under the leadership of founding Producing Artistic Director Lisa Adler, we seek out today’s playwrights and new plays that have received critical acclaim across the country and abroad, while also nurturing talented regional and early career writers whose work matches our mission, particularly women, African-Americans, Southerners and those who bring the diversity of our country to the stage.  In our New South Play Festival program, we annually commission, develop and produce new plays connected to our region and/or by writers who align with our mission. This year-round program features mainstage productions, commissions, and readings/workshops of new plays (New South PlayWorks), and the New South Young Playwrights Festival. Horizon serves over 40,000+ people with over 250 performances annually in our intimate 172-seat theatre and other venues in Atlanta and creates partnerships for positive change in our community.


Founded in 1974, Unicorn Theatre enhances Kansas City by developing and producing professional, provocative new plays. Unicorn Theatre chooses plays, most of which are less than five years old, that have never been performed in Kansas City, or often anywhere at all. The Unicorn looks for plays about strong female characters, people of color, LGBT, and any marginalized group. Under the artistic and executive leadership of Producing Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, the theatre has produced more than 300 productions, with 20 percent of those being world premieres. “We believe that as theatre artists we should take responsibility for illuminating significant issues and initiating change,” Levin said. “Our hope is that every time you come to the Unicorn, you discover something about yourself you did not know before you walked in.” In the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, Unicorn Theatre houses two intimate stages — The Levin Stage (formerly The Main Stage) and The Jerome Stage (added in 2008).