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Resident Playwright Program
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Resident Playwright Program

The Resident Playwright program provides space and funding for nationally-recognized American theater makers to create new work and share their knowledge and expertise with the Arena Stage community.

2016/17 Resident Playwright Ayad Akhtar

AYAD AKHTAR was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. His plays The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced around the world. Akhtar was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 Season by American Theatre magazine. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, the Sundance Institute, Ucross, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is also a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop. Akhtar is currently the Resident Playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Past Resident Playwrights

LYDIA R. DIAMOND’s plays include Smart People, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs and Stage Black. Producing theaters include Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Mo’Olelo, MPAACT, New Vic, Playmakers Rep, Plowshares, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and True Colors. Commissions include Steppenwolf (4), McCarter, Huntington, Victory Gardens and The Roundabout. Lydia was a 2005/06 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Non-Resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, a 2006/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow and a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor. She is Co-Vice President of the TCG Board of Directors, a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, a 2012 Sallie B. Goodman McCarter Fellow and a 2012/2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Lydia has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College.

AMY FREED is the author of Restoration Comedy, The Beard of Avon, Freedomland, Safe in Hell, The Psychic Life of Savages and other plays. Her work has been produced at South Coast Repertory Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Seattle Repertory, American Conservatory Theater, Yale Rep, California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Rep, the Goodman, Playwright's Horizons, Woolly Mammoth and other theaters around the country. Her most recent play, You, Nero debuted at South Coast Rep in January 2009, and was produced at Berkeley Rep in June of that year. Her latest play, Right to the Top will have its first reading at the Pacific Playwright’s Festival in April, 2010. Freed has been the recipient of the Joseph Kesselring Award, the Charles MacArthur Playwriting Award, is a several times winner of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, and was a Pulitzer finalist for Freedomland. She is Artist-in-Residence in the Drama Department of Stanford University. She has been Playwright-in-Residence for South Coast Rep, and recently served as Playwright-in-Residence for San Diego's Old Globe Theater.

KATORI HALL is a playwright-performer hailing from Memphis, Tennessee. Her plays include Hoodoo Love, Remembrance, Hurt Village, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, The Mountaintop (2010 Olivier Winner for Best New Play), WHADDABLOODCLOT!?!?, The Hope Well and Pussy Valley. Other awards include 2009/10 Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, Van Lier Fellowship from the Public Theatre, NYFA Fellowship and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. Recently, she was short-listed for the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award and received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival. Hall has been commissioned by the National Theatre in London, The Public Theater and the Women’s Project. She is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard and the Juilliard School. www.katorihall.com

SAMUEL D. HUNTER’s plays include A Bright New Boise (2011 OBIE award for playwriting, 2011 Drama Desk Nomination for Best Play; original production by Partial Comfort Productions in NYC, recent production at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company), The Whale (upcoming productions at Playwrights Horizons, Victory Gardens Theater and South Coast Repertory, original production at the Denver Center), Jack's Precious Moment (Page 73 Productions at 59E59), Five Genocides (Clubbed Thumb at the Ohio Theater), A Permanent Image (commissioned and produced by Boise Contemporary Theater). His newest play, The Few, was recently workshopped at South Coast Rep and JAW West. He has active commissions from MTC/Sloan, Seattle Rep, South Coast Rep and LCT3. His plays have been developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayPenn, Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Lark Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard, LAByrinth, Rattlestick, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, 24Seven Lab and elsewhere.

LISA KRON has been writing and performing theater since moving to New York from Michigan in 1984.  Her work has been widely produced at theaters such as the Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Arena Stage, A.R.T., The Huntington, A.C.T., Actors Theatre of Louisville, Tokyo’s Rinkogun, the Barbican and on London’s West End. Her plays include:  In the Wake (co-premiering currently at CTG in L.A. and at Berkeley Rep, scheduled NY premiere: Public Theater, Fall 2010); Well (premiere: Public Theater, 2004, named one of the year’s ten best plays by The New York Times, Associated Press, The Newark Star Ledger and Backstage; Broadway premiere:  March 2006, two Tony nominations);  and 2.5 Minute Ride (NY premiere: Public Theater, 1999, OBIE, L.A. Dramalogue and GLAAD Media Awards, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Kron is also a founding member of the beloved OBIE- and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, whose plays include Brave Smiles, The Secretaries and Oedipus at Palm Springs (New York Theater Workshop).Lisa has received playwriting fellowships from the Lortel and Guggenheim Foundations, Sundance Theater Lab, and the Lark Play Development Center; an NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Fellowship; the Cal Arts/Alpert Award; and grants from the Creative Capital Foundation and New York Foundation for the Arts. Projects in development include a musical collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, a new play for Drew University, and another for the Sloan Foundation through Playwrights Horizons. Lisa teaches playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.

CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT’s plays include Blue and Cuttin' Up, (which had sold-out runs at Arena Stage and have been produced around the country) and most recently The Night Is A Child (starring Jo Beth Williams at Pasadena Playhouse). His directing credits with Arena Stage include Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies and Guys and Dolls (both starring Maurice Hines), Oak & Ivy, Anthems, Senor Discretion Himself and Cuttin' Up. His directing credits include the 75th anniversary international tour of Porgy and Bess, Daniel Beaty in Through The Night (Geffen Playhouse) They're Playing Our Song in Brazil (in Portuguese), Brian Stokes Mitchell in Love/Life (Lincoln Center), Tough Titty (Williamstown), Blood Knot (with music by Tracy Chapman at ACT), among other productions at the Roundabout, NY Shakespeare Festival, NY Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, Mark Taper and Carnegie Hall. Randolph-Wright wrote and directed the upcoming film Mama I Want to Sing and directed the award-winning film Preaching to the Choir. TV directing credits include Lincoln Heights, South of Nowhere, and the Nike Freestyle Soccer campaign starring Ronaldinho. He also produced and wrote Showtime's critically acclaimed series Linc's.

JOHN STRAND’s previous work at Arena Stage includes The Miser, an adaptation of the Molière play set in Reagan-era America; Lovers and Executioners, winner of the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play; and Tom Walker, also commissioned by Arena Stage. His recent work includes the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville, a new musical with a score by composer Dennis McCarthy (South Coast Repertory); Lincolnesque, a dark comedy about politics and madness in D.C. (The Old Globe, dir. by Joe Calarco); and Lorenzaccio, his adaptation of Alfred de Musset's 1834 French classic (The Shakespeare Theatre, dir. by Michael Kahn). Strand is the author of the book for the musical The Highest Yellow, with a score by Michael John LaChiusa, (Signature Theatre, dir. by Eric Schaeffer). Additional plays are The Diaries (commissioned by Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Otabenga, (Signature Theatre, dir. by Michael Kahn, MacArthur nomination); Three Nights in Tehran, a comedy about the Iran-Contra affair (Signature Theatre); and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth Theatre). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, writing in English and French, and directed New York University's Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris (2013).

KAREN ZACARÍAS plays include Legacy of Light, the adaptation of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Mariela in ihe Desert, The Book Club Play, The Sins of Sor Juana. Her children’s musicals include Looking for Roberto Clemente, Chasing George Washington, Ferdinand the Bull, Einstein Is a Dummy, Jane of the Jungle, Cindrella Eats Rice and Beans. Her plays have been produced at Arena Stage, The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, The Denver Center, Round House Theater, The Arden, Cleveland Play House, The Alliance Theater and many more. Her awards include: 2010 Finalist for the Steinberg Award for best New American Play (Legacy of Light), National Francesca Primus Prize (Mariela in the Desert), Winner: National Latino Play Award, Winner ATT/TCG First Stages Award, Finalist Susan S. Blackburn Award, New Voices Award, and the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play (The Sins of Sor Juana). Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three young children. She is also a playwriting professor at Georgetown University, and the founding Artistic Director of Young Playwrights’ Theater in D.C.