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residenciesSupporting Playwrights and Process

Residencies come in three typical formats: Playwright Residencies, Project Residencies and Commission-related Residencies.

  • Playwright Residencies are focused on practice and process for the artist. These include the five original resident playwrights (Amy Freed, Katori Hall, Lisa Kron, Charles Randolph-Wright and Karen Zacarías).  While the artist may create several new works during these residencies, the focus is on the artist and not the completion of a specific work.  At the same time, each artist residency results in the production of a work by the artist at some point, either during or shortly after completion of the residency.  Resident playwrights are also provided with an expert dramaturg to assist in their work during their residencies, currently Jocelyn Clarke.
  • Project Residencies are aimed at the creation of specific plays or projects.  Current project residencies include Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang.
  • Commission-related Residencies are typically short-term residencies tied to specific commissioned work for Arena Stage. They support the artist in residence as they workshop and complete the work for our stage.

Resident Playwrights

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and author of “American Dervish,” published in over 20 languages worldwide and named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf Awareness and O, The Oprah Magazine. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre and is currently the most produced play in the country. In addition to Disgraced, his plays The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced nationwide. Ayad was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 season by American Theatre. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, the Sundance Institute, Ucross and Yaddo.

“Molly Smith's vision of a theater for and about America, situated at the heart of American political life, is not only deeply inspiring, but also aligns with the preoccupations of my next series of works. I couldn't be more thrilled to be joining Arena for the coming year.”


Lydia DiamondLydia 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.

“Arena Stage has, through this residency, given me the gift of time.”


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.

“The last year of my residency at Arena has been a full one, creatively … The play I was workshopping in the first year of my residency, The Monster-Builder, premieres in Portland this season, and pre-production has begun.”


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.

“I was able to go back to Rwanda and Uganda to continue research on my play Our Lady of Kibeho … which allowed me to work on authentic music and deepen the cultural details of the play.”


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. 

“As a direct result of this fellowship, I've had one of the most productive and prolific years of my life; I've written four plays this year already, and plan to write at least two more before my year is finished. Without the stability that Arena has given me, I never would have been able to do this.”


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.

“[M]y residency allowed me to put other projects to the side and live inside of the piece [the musical Fun Home], giving me the time and mental space for long stretches of writing, and two very intense workshops.”


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.

“Most of the year has been spent working on my new play Love in Afghanistan … I read an article that intrigued me, and decided that the subject had to be in a play. I never would have done this without the residency … I have been given freedom and bravery to go far beyond my comfort zone.”


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).

“To work closely with Molly Smith and the great team of talented artists at Arena is a blessing, and I plan to make the most of it. I am eager to begin a new dialogue with Arena’s audiences—among the smartest and best-informed, anywhere.”


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.

“My residency helped me focus on my past work, strengthened my new work, and …
is helping pave the future for, hopefully, a strong and vibrant theater career and community.”


Project Residents

David Henry Hwang plays include M. Butterfly (1988 Tony Award for Best Play, 1989 Pulitzer Finalist), Yellow Face (2008 OBIE Award for Playwriting, 2008 Pulitzer Finalist), Golden Child (1997 OBIE Award, 1998 Tony Nomination for Best Play), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), and The Dance and the Railroad. He wrote libretti for the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice; Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song (2002 revival, Tony Nomination for Best Book of a Musical); and Disney’s Tarzan, with songs by Phil Collins. His opera libretti include four collaborations with composer Philip Glass, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), The Sound of a Voice, and the upcoming Icarus At The Edge of Time; as well as Bright Sheng’s The Silver River, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (2007 Grammy Awards for Best Opera and Best Classical Composition), Unsuk Chin’s Alice In Wonderland (Opernwelt 2007 World Premiere of the Year), and Howard Shore’s The Fly.  Hwang penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (co-writer), and also co-wrote the song “Solo” with Prince. His newest play, Chinglish, will premiere in 2011 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, co-produced with the Public Theater in New York. Hwang attended Stanford University and the Yale School of Drama and served by appointment of President Clinton on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Lynn Nottage is a playwright from Brooklyn. Her plays include Intimate Apparel, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas and Ruined. They have been produced and developed at theatres both nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2007 MacArthur Genius Award, an OBIE Award for playwriting, NY Drama Critics Circle Award, Best play and John Gassner Outer Critics Circle awards, American Theatre Critics/Steinberg 2004 New Play Award, 2004 Francesca Primus Award and two AUDELCO awards. Nottage’s most recent publications include: Intimate Apparel and Fabulation (TCG) and an anthology of her plays, Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Other Plays (TCG) which includes Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers and Poof! She was awarded a 2007 Lucille Lortel Foundation Fellowship, 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Black Theatre Festival’s August Wilson Playwriting Award and the 2004 PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she is currently a visiting lecturer. Nottage is also a recent graduate of New Dramatists.