NNPN Announces More Than $135,000 in Awards for 2017-18

Jul 5, 2016

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 2017-18 grant recipients, including the 2017 Smith Prize for Political Theatre, seven Producer Residencies, and five Collaboration Fund awards that will support partnerships between multiple Member Theaters, playwrights, and other theater makers in various projects.

From Executive Director Nan Barnett: "We are pleased that these Residencies, Commissions, and awards in support of Collaborations between NNPN’s Member Theaters and these artists and theater-makers will impact 15 communities this year.  But, of course, the new play field and its audiences will reap the benefits of these programs around the world for years to come."


NNPN Affiliated Artist Jacqueline Goldfinger received the 12th Smith Prize for Political Theater, established in 2006 by Timothy Jay Smith and a group of socially conscious donors to encourage emerging playwrights to tackle the pressing issues of our times.

Her project, Babel, takes on issues of privacy and genetic testing, and how such testing could be used to discriminate in terms of things like jobs, education, and social status. In this version of a near future society, prospective parents learn within the first month of conception what traits their child will have and what behaviors it is likely to exhibit. Based on these test results, they are either issued a PRE certification which legally guarantees the baby will be a "good" person or not. Without the certification, the child will be limited in what it is allowed to do. Two couples, both early in their pregnancies, collide over whether or not to open the PRE certification test results, and what to do once they know the results. 

Core Member Florida Studio Theatre, which nominated the Philadelphia-based playwright for this prize, was first introduced to Goldfinger and her work at the 2015 National Showcase of New Plays, where her new play The Arsonists was presented.The Arsonists is currently receiving an NNPN Rolling World Premiere at Associate Members Azuka Theatre (Philadelphia), Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Capital Stage (Sacramento), and Core Member Perseverance Theatre (Juneau/Anchorage).


In 2017-18, four emerging theater-makers will serve as Producers in Residence at NNPN’s Core Members: Leah Anderson at Mixed Blood Theatre (Minneapolis), Jessica Parks at New Jersey Repertory Company (Long Branch), Kirstin Clippard at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, and Irena Saric at Riverside Theatre (Iowa City).

Additionally, two of the current 2016-17 Residents will continue in a second year: Maria Patrice Amon at San Diego REP and Helen Jaksch at Southern Rep (New Orleans). The program aims to revolutionize the way theaters support rising leaders in the new play field by embedding the selected Residents in Core Member Theaters for 3 to 10 months. While immersed in the day-to-day, per production, and seasonal operations of a new play theater, Residents learn about NNPN’s successful models for collaboration, deepen their connections to the artists and leaders of the Network, and increase their visibility to the field.

Finally, Ryan-Patrick McLaughlin will continue his Residency at NNPN headquarters for a second year, serving additionally as tech support for New Play Exchange®.


The Collaboration Fund was established in an effort to encourage innovative, pioneering, project-based partnerships among theaters in support of playwrights and new plays. Monies are awarded annually on a competitive basis to projects proposed by National New Play Network Core Members, working together with other Member Theaters and playwrights on the development or production of a new work or works. This year, NNPN will support five collaborative projects.

Cleveland Public Theatre will use Collaboration Funds to support the development of Nikkole Salter’s 2017 NNPN Annual Commission. Salter’s new project is centered on Cleveland’s consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, designed to address the excessive use of force of Cleveland’s police. NNPN Funds will support her continued research in Cleveland, participation in Entry Point in early 2018, and a customized reading in the spring.

Curious Theatre Company (Denver) Over the course of their 20th Anniversary season, unfolding during three visits, Curious Theatre Company will collaborate with Lindsay Joelle as she researches, develops, and workshops the second and third installments in her series The Truck Trilogy. This collaboration builds on the success of Serial Storytelling, an innovative Curious Theatre Company programmatic initiative that immerses audiences in a series of plays that span multiple seasons, fostering a deeper connection to the characters, story, and playwright.

InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia) will lead Cross-Pollination, a new initiative creating a local playwright trade between NNPN Core Members InterAct Theatre Company, Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas) and Cleveland Public Theatre. Each participating theater will host a workshop for a playwright mentored by one of the other partner theaters. The project will focus on playwrights who have not yet had a professional production of a full-length play or have not yet had a play professionally produced outside of their home city.

Milagro (Portland) will be launching its inaugural new works play festival, INGENIO in September 2017. INGENIO will feature the works of four emerging Latino playwrights - Guillermo Reyes, Monica Palacios, Marisela Treviño Orta, and Monica Sanchez - selected through a national open call held after the award was granted. The plays will be presented in concert readings followed by a feedback session. A key feature of INGENIO will be the participation of an established Latino theater artist who will serve as host and mentor to the playwrights; for the inaugural festival, we have invited former Milagro Interim Artistic Director and long-time collaborator Daniel Jáquez to take on the role.

Salt Lake Acting Company is using NNPN support for a second year to bring in five NNPN Affiliated artist to participate in it’s fourth SLAC Playwrights' Lab. The SLAC Lab’s use of ‘resource artists’ – professionals from various artistic mediums (storytelling, musical composition, dance, visual art, etc.) who are available to the playwrights as they explore and experiment – makes it a unique and impactful new play development program.


Jacqueline Goldfinger's new play, The Arsonists, currently has a NNPN Rolling World Premiere at Azuka Theatre, Know Theater, Capital Stage and Perseverance Theatre. She recently won the Horn-Yale Drama Prize for her play Bottle Fly. It will have a reading in London at The National Theatre's New Work Studio this fall. Her work has been produced and/or developed by theaters including The Kennedy Center, La MaMa, Orlando Shakes, New Georges, Vermont Stage, Seattle Public, Flashpoint, Theatre Exile, and Manhattan Theatre Works. She has worked on public performance art projects with FringeArts/Reading Terminal Market, Missing Bolts, and PAFA. Her work has been supported by the Emerson Stage Residency, Audrey Residency, Drama League Residency, YADDO, NEA ArtWorks, Independence Foundation, NNPN, The Lark, PlayPenn, among others. She is represented by Abrams Artist Agency.


The $5,000 Prize is awarded annually as a commission, chosen by the Network, from proposals from NNPN-affiliated early career writers for a play that examines the American body politic. NNPN also compensates a Core Member theater up to $2,500 for a developmental workshop of the play, and provides an additional $2,500 to the first NNPN Core Member to fully produce the resulting work.


Using theatre to illustrate and animate, Mixed Blood changes attitudes, behavior, and policy by paying positive attention to difference. The company’s predictably unpredictable work addresses injustices, inequities, and cultural collisions, providing a voice for the unheard—on stage, in the workplace, in the company’s own Cedar Riverside neighborhood and beyond. Mixed Blood continues to lead the field in programming and engagement at the crossroads of art and social justice, and in eliminating barriers to participation through its signature Radical Hospitality. The company annually presents a mainstage season of plays in its historic firehouse; works extensively with the Cedar Riverside, disability, Latino and transgender communities, using art as a tool to promote health and civic engagement; and produces customized productions addressing workplace inclusion through On the Job. mixedblood.com


Leah Anderson is a producer/director/actor/writer originally from Honolulu and currently based in Minneapolis. She is the NNPN Producer in Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre, where she will direct The Mermaid Hour in the 2017-18 season. Leah is the artistic director of The Arson, a traveling band of artists committed to radical inclusion; with a mission to make art that speaks directly to community, recent projects have included James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood, Kia Corthron's Force Continuum, and a Spanish translation of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. Leah is currently working on an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, as well as two projects dealing with sexual abuse and racial violence. MFA Brown University/Trinity Rep, BA Yale University.


The New Jersey Repertory Company is a professional, non-profit theater founded in 1997 by SuzAnne Barabas (Artistic Director) and Gabor Barabas (Executive Producer). Located in Long Branch, New Jersey, the theater's primary mission is to develop and produce new plays and to make a lasting contribution to the American stage. In addition, it also seeks to achieve the following: to be a catalyst in the redevelopment and revitalization of its surrounding community; to build and encourage young audiences and inspire interest in theater arts among young people; and to nurture the work of writers from diverse backgrounds and build diverse audiences. njrep.org


Jessica Parks graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a BFA in Scenic Design in 2003. Two days after graduation, she started on her first professional job as prop master for the New Jersey Repertory Company. Six years and over thirty shows later, she became their resident scenic designer in 2009 and made it her artistic home. Since then, she has been dedicated to perpetuating the mission of NJ Repertory of developing and producing new plays and is very excited to be become a larger part of this new era for this wonderful company. Design highlights include: Butler and Housewives of Mannheim for NJ Repertory at 59E59 St. Theaters, Dan Lauria’s Dinner with the Boys at The Acorn Theater, The Stool at the End of Bar for The Director's Company at 59E59 St. Theaters. JessicaParksDesign.com


Founded in 1989, Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando Shakes) in Partnership with UCF produces classic, contemporary, and children’s plays. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director PJ Albert, Orlando Shakes has grown into one of the region’s most acclaimed professional Equity theaters, garnering national recognition from The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout. “Hence the high quality of Orlando Shakespeare, a company that deserves to be far more widely known outside Florida.” With ambitious, high-caliber productions like 2016’s West Side Story, and 2015’s Monty Python’s SPAMALOT, and Peter and the Starcatcher, the Theater continues to provide an innovative world-class theatrical experience to its guests, while showcasing William Shakespeare’s legacy as the cornerstone of the company. Orlando Shakes also offers immersive educational programming that serves Central Florida schools and the local community at large. orlandoshakes.org


Kristin Clippard has worked as a theatre artist (director, actor, teacher, administrator, writer, dramaturg, producer) across the United States. She holds a BFA in acting from Wright State University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Iowa. She has trained with Shakespeare & Company, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, National Conservatory Theatre, and SITI Company. Selected directing credits include Fever, God of Carnage, Loyalty and Betrayal (a community collaboration based on Julius Caesar), Landless, Collective Amnesia, Christopher Marlowe’s Chloroform Dreams, Champagne Gods, Merry Wives of Windsor, Imaginary Invalid, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Taming of the Shrew, Dr. Faustus, and She Stoops to Conquer. Previously, she has served in education departments for various universities and theater companies and as the Directing Fellow at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. kristinclippard.com


Riverside Theatre is a professional theatre in Iowa City, IA that connects artists and audiences through intimate, engaging, and provocative productions from the classics to new works, and provides an artistic home for regional theatre professionals. Founded 1981, we’re currently in our 35th season. We believe the shared experience of live theatre is magical and important. Community members, artists and collaborators are our life blood. From September through April we produce a full season of work at our theatre on Gilbert Street. In June and July, we produce a summer season centered around the classics. riversidetheatre.org


Irena Saric earned her Master’s in Performing Arts Management from The University of Zagreb, Academy of Dramatic Arts. As her graduate project, she produced a children’s play and a social project First Snow that focused on children in orphanages in Zagreb, Croatia. For three years, she worked as a festival producer for Eurokaz, one of European most important festivals of new theatre. Together with producing and organizing three festival editions, she worked on co-productions with experimental company CREW from Brussels, Belgium and National Theatre Bitola in Macedonia. Her last project in Europe, before moving to Iowa City, was producing The Confusions of Young Törless, which premiered at Queer New York International Arts Festival. Upon moving to Iowa City, she was briefly involved with community theatre, before joining Riverside Theatre as company manager.


San Diego REPertory Theatre is downtown San Diego’s resident theater, promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive political and social values. The company produces and hosts over 300 events and performances year-round on three stages at the Lyceum Theater; since its move to the Lyceum, the REP has produced 39 mainstage productions by Latino playwrights, and more than 40 world premieres. sdrep.org


San Diego REP’s NNPN Producer in Residence, Maria Patrice Amon, is a recent PhD in drama from UCI with emphases in Critical Theory and Chicano Studies. Her dissertation is titled “Little Girls and Legal Defendants: Theatricalization and Performances of Innocence in Modern American Culture.” She is a UC Irvine Chancellor’s Fellow in drama. Maria Patrice is a dramaturg and has worked with San Diego Rep, Mo`olelo, and The University of San Diego. She has directed and produced with Brown Bag Theatre Company. Maria Patrice holds a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law.


Founded in 1986, Southern Rep Theatre’s mission is to develop and produce new plays that reflect the diversity of the city it calls home, to provide our audience with professional theatre of the highest artistic quality and achievement, and to establish a creative working environment that nurtures theatre professionals. As New Orleans’ leading non-profit professional theatre, we strive to use the artistry of theater to enlighten, educate, and entertain audiences, and further extend that service through educational and outreach programs. southernrep.com


Helen Jaksch considers both El Paso, TX and New Orleans, LA home. She is working on her Doctorate of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale where she is studying Youth-Created Theatre in America. Her writings on theatre and performance have been featured in TDR, Theater, Performing Fiction and the NOLA Defender. She has produced and served as dramaturg for new plays, devised performances, and youth playmaking programs in New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Texas. A passionate advocate for young voices and community artists, she is excited to be join


Ryan-Patrick McLaughlin, (RP) is the Producer-Residence at National New Play Network, where he is focusing on data-driven program evaluation and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Outside of the Network, RP works for Flanagan Theater Projects on the 2018 Women's Voices Theater Festival and served as the Project Coordinator for Triple Play, a national research project with the Theatre Development Fund and Theatre Bay Area developing and executing new models for creating and sustaining substantive conversations among theatres, audiences, and artists. RP came to D.C. as the Artistic Fellow at Shakespeare Theatre Company. He received his BFA in Theatre from Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University


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. cptonline.org


Nikkole Salter began her professional career with her co-authorship and co-performance (with Danai Gurira) of the Pulitzer Prize nominated play, In the Continuum (ITC) for which she received an Obie, NY Outer Critics’, and the Global Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations. Since then, Ms. Salter’s plays have been produced on 3 continents, published in 12 international publications, and broadcast on the WNET program "Theatre Close-Up.” As an actress she has graced the big and small screen and performed theatrically with renowned directors, including TONY nominated Liesl Tommy and winner Kenny Leon. Ms. Salter is a member of Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and sits on the boards of the Theatre Communications Group and the Dramatists Guild. She received her BFA in theater from Howard University and her MFA from New York University's Graduate Acting Program. nikkolesalter.com


The mission of Curious Theatre Company is to engage the community in important contemporary issues through provocative modern theatre. Now celebrating 20 years of bringing thought-provoking theatre to Denver, Curious Theatre Company’s rich history showcases our commitment to playwrights with gutsy things to say. Over the last ten years, 66% of Curious plays have been written by playwrights of color, LGBTQ playwrights, or female playwrights – an unparalleled distinction in our region. We are proud to produce plays that challenge and enrich our lives through different viewpoints and storytelling styles. Curious has been named Best Theatre Season by Westword seven times and was honored four times with Best Year by a Theatre Company by the former Denver Post Ovation Awards. Our incredible Company and the artists who work with us have earned hundreds of awards through their tireless effort to bring relevant, contemporary theatre to the Front Range. “No guts, no story” embodies the ethos of Curious Theatre Company. Established in 1997 by a vanguard Artistic Company that has since grown to 27 professional actors, designers, and directors at its core, Curious brings the best new theatre to Denver, producing thought-provoking plays designed to challenge ideas, stir emotions, and leave audiences thinking and talking for days. curioustheatre.org


Lindsay Joelle is a NYC-based playwright, lyricist, and librettist. Recent works include TRAYF (Penguin Rep), The Garbologists, The Trojan Woman, The Princess of Riverside Drive (Vital Theater), and A Small History of Amal by Amal, Age 7. Her writing has been produced/developed at TADA!, The Lark, The New Georges Jam, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, The New School for Drama, Forward Flux, Luna Stage, and ESPA/Primary Stages, among others. Her plays have received the Rita Goldberg Award for Graduate Playwriting, Irving Zarkower Award for best play of the year, Anne Freedman Grant, 2017 Kilroys List Honorable Mention, and have been finalists for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, JAW Festival, Leah Ryan Emerging Playwright Prize, Blue Ink Award, Ingram New Works Lab, UMass New Play Lab (Top 4), and Jewish Plays Project (Runner-up). Proud Lark and New Georges-affiliated artist, alumna of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, Columbia University, and Hunter Playwriting MFA. LindsayJoelle.com


Founded in 1988, InterAct is dedicated to presenting new and contemporary plays that explore the political, social and cultural issues of our time. The company produces four plays annually, and is actively involved in the development of new plays, workshops, and playwright support, as well as cultivating prize-winning writers, championing world premiere work, and creating community partnerships. interacttheatre.org


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. kitchendogtheater.org


As the premier Latino arts and culture center of the Pacific Northwest, Milagro has provided extraordinary Latino theatre, culture, and arts education for the enrichment of all communities since 1985. Teatro Milagro, Milagro’s touring & arts education program, presents its original bilingual plays and educational residencies to diverse and underserved communities across the nation. On the mainstage, Milagro produces a full season of regional or world premieres, including one Spanish-language play each year, as well as our long-running Día de los Muertos signature production. We entertain our audiences; we give them pause to think, feel and imagine; and, through the cultural lens of latinidad, we reflect the full spectrum of humanity. milagro.org


INGENIO MILAGRO is a play and playwright development program for Latina/o playwrights. It serves as an intrinsic step in the development of new full-length theatrical works through concert and table readings, guiding playwrights and their works from concept to production. Directors, dramaturgs, and actors bring the plays to life for one performance for an audience of theatre professionals and members of the public, which are followed by a moderated feedback session. Playwrights choose their level of involvement from rehearsal to presentation to feedback session, remotely and/or in person.


Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)'s mission is to engage and enrich community through brave, contemporary theatre. Founded in 1970 to present innovative and thought-provoking plays for Utah audiences and to nurture a community of local and national professional theatre artists, SLAC is committed to commissioning, developing and producing a year-round season of new work. SLAC has cultivated an engaged and adventurous audience, as evidenced by its ever-growing subscriber base, and is proud to be a champion of new plays. saltlakeactingcompany.org


A rare opportunity for writers, the SLAC Playwrights’ Lab dedicates time, talent, and artistic resources to the exploration and investigation of new scripts. Giving writers time, space, and a community of skilled and generous artists, without the pressure of a final reading, presentation, or showing, is invaluable. SLAC brings together local and national artists to form the Lab company, which is comprised of actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers, and resource artists, which have included a choreographer, visual artist/designer, musicologist, composer, storyteller, and improv artist.