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Center for Theater Commons announces grant program

(BOSTON – Jan. 7, 2012) Center for the Theater Commons (CTC) in The Office of the Arts at Emerson College announces its participation, along with 14 theaters, in an initiative that will enhance the participation of playwrights on the staffs of theater companies throughout the country, funded by a group of grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Theaters were invited to apply with particular playwrights in mind, and recipients were chosen in consultation with a panel of leading artists and practitioners. CTC at Emerson College is documenting the impact and outcomes of the initiative, andwill attempt to make the results a real-time experience for the field of theater. They will do this by using their own existing tools (, the New Play Map, #NEWPLAY TV, and the #newplay tag on Twitter). They will also collect and disseminate information through a regular program of retreats, where they will gather the artists, producers, and artistic directors, and using the tools of the CTC, amplify the impact of these gatherings nationally. All of the artists will also be in short-term residencies in Boston at Emerson College.

As part of the residencies, CTC will hire and deploy freelance Commons Producers around the country, collectively charged with overseeing the content for CTC’s documentation and dissemination platforms. These individual producers will both track the activity happening in the communities, institutions, and organizations that receive Mellon support, and help CTC develop the role of the individual commons producer as an essential ingredient for the health of the American theater in the 21st century. CTC will also administer the distribution of modest discretionary grants directly to the playwrights, which may be used for developmental activities.

According to CTC Director Polly Carl, “As a longtime advocate for playwrights, I’m delighted that we have been charged with shepherding the impact of these residencies for the field. The Commons is a place to track and study innovative initiatives that we hope will lead to a healthier environment for artists interested in making theater. The idea that we will have Commons Producers and playwrights in fourteen theaters sharing work, practice, and ideas with the field is really thrilling. Transparency, access and collaboration are 21st Century values that are critical to the future relevance of our art form.”

“Emerson College is delighted to play a role in this important and ambitious initiative,” said President Lee Pelton. “As a leading institution of higher education in communication and the arts, Emerson is the perfect home for Center for the Theater Commons, and by extension, a grateful partner with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and these fourteen theaters. It’s an honor to be part of an initiative that will continue to move theater into the 21st century.”

The following artists will join the staff of the listed organization below for three years.

  • David Adjmi/Soho Repertory Theatre, New York City
  • Luis Alfaro/Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon
  • Pearl Cleage/Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Marcus Gardley/Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago, Illinois
  • Nathan Louis Jackson/Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Dan Le Franc/Playwrights Horizons, New York City
  • Melinda Lopez/Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Julie Marie Myatt/South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California
  • Peter Nachtrieb/Z Space, San Francisco, California
  • Qui Nguyen/Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Kira Obolensky/Ten Thousand Things, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Robert O’Hara/Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington D.C.
  • Will Power/Dallas Theater Center, Dallas, Texas
  • Andrew Saito/Cutting Ball Theater, San Francisco, California

For information now and as the residencies unfold, please visit


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