At the heart of Arena Stage’s commitment to American voices is a robust and growing play commissioning program. Committed to expanding, diversifying and strengthening the cannon of American theater, many of our commissions have been produced at Arena Stage, at other theaters across the nation and adapted to radio and television platforms. Examples include Charles Randolph Wright’s Cuttin’ Up, Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play and Karen Zacarías’ The Legacy of Light and Destiny of Desire.
Arena Stage's Current Commissioned Artists Include
Nathan Alan Davis
Nathan Alan Davis' play Nat Turner in Jerusalem received its world premiere at NYTW in the fall of 2016 and was a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick. In 2015, his play Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea received a Steinberg/ATCA New Play Citation and was produced in five cities in a NNPN Rolling World Premiere. His play The Wind and the Breeze received the 2016 Blue Ink Playwriting Award and was selected for Cygnet Theatre’s inaugural Finish Line Commission. Nathan is a theater lecturer at Princeton University, a Usual Suspect at NYTW and a 2016 graduate of Juilliard’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. He received his M.F.A. from Indiana University and his B.F.A. from the University of Illinois.
Eve Ensler is the Tony Award-winning playwright, activist, performer and author of the Obie Award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve’s plays include Necessary Targets, O.P.C., The Good Body and Emotional Creature. Her books include Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir and the New York Times’ bestseller I Am An Emotional Creature. Her latest critically-acclaimed memoir is In the Body of the World, which she adapted, debuted and performed at American Repertory Theater directed by Diane Paulus. Her play Fruit Trilogy was performed at the Women of the World Festival and The West Yorkshire Playhouse. Eve is founder of V-Day, an almost 20-year-old global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over $100 million, and One Billion Rising, a global mass action campaign in over 200 countries. She was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Changed the World” and The Guardian’s “100 Most Influential Women.”
Emily Feldman’s work has been developed by Roundabout Theatre Company, The Playwrights Realm, Alliance Theatre, Second Stage Theater, A.C.T., Portland Center Stage, La Jolla Playhouse and Actors Theatre of Louisville, among others. Her play The Best We Could (a family tragedy) will premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2020. Alum: The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, I-73 at Page 73, the Jerome Fellowship/Core Apprenticeship at the Playwrights’ Center, Orchard Project Greenhouse, New Harmony Project Two Rivers Emerging Playwrights Group. Current: Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School, Core Writer at The Playwrights Center, commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club and Playwrights Horizons. Emily has taught playwriting at Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU and holds an M.F.A. from University of California, San Diego and a B.A. from Middlebury College.
David Henry Hwang
David Henry Hwang's 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, premiered 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.
Rajiv Joseph's play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His play Guards at the Taj won a 2016 Obie Award for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play. His other plays include The North Pool, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and The Lake Effect. He has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Kenneth Lin’s plays Warrior Class (TCG Edgerton New Play Prize); Fallow (Barrymore Nomination for Outstanding New Play, Brown Martin Philadelphia Award); Intelligence-Slave and Po Boy Tango (TCG Edgerton New Play Prize); said Saïd (L. Arnold Weissberger Award, Princess Grace Award); Life On Paper, Agency* and Genius In Love have been seen at theaters throughout the country, including Second Stage, Alliance Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Alley Theatre, People's Light, South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Marin Theater Company and East West Players. He is the creator of a new limited series, American Way for USA Networks and is a staff writer on Netflix's House of Cards. Commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, Wilma Theater and Arena Stage. Residencies include Ojai Playwrights Conference, Ucross Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lark Playwrights Workshop, Interstate 73, New York Stage and Film, and McCarter Playwrights Retreat. He attended Cornell University, Fulbright Scholarship, Yale School of Drama.
Craig Lucas’ plays include Reckless, Blue Window, Prelude to a Kiss, The Dying Gaul, Prayer For My Enemy, The Singing Forest, Ode To Joy and I Was Most Alive With You. His screenplays include Longtime Companion, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Prelude to a Kiss and The Dying Gaul. He wrote libretti for The Light in the Piazza, An American in Paris and Two Boys (opera). He directed the world premiere of The Light in the Piazza, Harry Kondoleon’s Saved Or Destroyed and Play Yourself, as well as the films The Dying Gaul and Birds of America. Awards include NY Film Critics Best Screenplay, Sundance Audience Award, Excellence in Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters as well as three Obie Awards.
Eduardo Machado was born in Cuba and came to the United States when he was nine. He is the author of over 40 plays, including The Cook, Havana is Waiting, The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa, Fabiola, Broken Eggs and Stevie Wants to Play the Blues. His plays have been produced at Seattle Repertory, Goodman, Hartford Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf, Hampstead Theatre in London, Cherry Lane, Theater for the New City and Repertorio Español, among many others. He was formerly artistic director of INTAR Theatre in New York, and has been a Professor of Playwriting at NYU Tisch and Columbia. He is the co-author of Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile’s Hunger for Home, and his plays are published by Samuel French and TCG.
Aaron Posner is an award-winning playwright, director, teacher and former artistic director of two LORT theaters. His Helen Hayes Award-winning play, Stupid Fucking Bird, was one of the 10 most produced plays in the country in 2015. Other plays include Life Sucks and No Sisters (both re-inventions of Chekhov), District Merchants (inspired by The Merchant of Venice), Who Am I This Time? & Other Conundrums of Love (adapted from Kurt Vonnegut), The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev (adapted from Chaim Potok), Sometimes a Great Notion (adapted from Ken Kesey) and several more. He has directed more than 150 productions at major regional theaters across the country, including Arena Stage, and currently lives outside of D.C. with his wife, actress Erin Weaver, and his amazing daughter, Maisie.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced playwright on and off-Broadway, regionally and internationally. Her plays include Seminar, Mauritius (IRNE Award and Elliot Norton Award), Spike Heels, Poor Behavior, The Family of Mann (National Theatre Conference Award), The Bells (William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award), Omnium Gatherum (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Bad Dates and The Understudy. In television, she is known for her work on NYPD Blue (Writer’s Guild, Peabody and Edgar Awards) and for creating the NBC series Smash. Theresa is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a Ph.D. and M.F.A. from Brandeis University. She serves on the board of PEN America, and is a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn and her children, Cooper and Cleo Lynn.
Karen Zacarias was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the 10 most-produced playwrights in the U.S. Her award-winning plays include The Copper Children, Destiny of Desire, Native Gardens, The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, the adaptations of Just Like Us, Into the Beautiful North and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent. She is the author of 10 renowned TYA musicals and the Marvel play Squirrel Girl Goes to College, and the librettist of several ballets. She is one of the inaugural resident playwrights at Arena Stage (where she has been produced four times!), a core founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons – a large national organization of artists seeking to update the American narrative with the stories of Latinos – and she is the founder of the award-winning Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT). YPT was cited by the Obama administration as one of the best arts-education programs in the nation. Karen was just voted 2018 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine for her advocacy work involving the arts. She is an inaugural 2019 Sine Fellow for Policy Innovation at American University and is selected by The League of Professional Theatre Women to receive the 2019 Lee Reynolds Award given annually to a woman in theater who has helped illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change. She also was awarded the 2019 Medallion by the Children’s Theater Foundation of America for her advocacy for youth and the arts. Karen lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and three children.
Zack Zadek is a composer/lyricist, playwright and songwriter with Warner/Chappell. Zack has been named by Playbill as “A Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriter You Should Know,” was a MacDowell Fellow and VCCA Fellow and is a 2019 Dramatist Guild Fellow. Zack won the Weston New Musical Award for his book, music and lyrics to Deathless (dir. Tina Landau), which was produced at Goodspeed Musicals in 2017. His work has been developed and presented at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Roundabout, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, New York Stage and Film, The 5th Avenue Theatre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The Lark, Arena Stage, Goodspeed Musicals, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Weston Playhouse, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Legacy Theatre, NYMF, The Mitten Lab and in the UK at the London Theatre Workshop and Edinburgh Fringe. He is a two-time finalist for the Kleban Prize as a librettist and a lyricist, a three-time Jonathan Larson Grant Finalist, SigWorks @ Signature Theatre finalist, KSF Artists of Choice finalist and winner of the inaugural NMI/Disney Imagineering New Voices Award. Other pieces include The Crazy Ones (dir. Sam Buntrock/Hunter Bird), The Role of a Lifetime (dir. Jerry Mitchell) and 6 (dir. Sheryl Kaller/Max Friedman). Upcoming projects include Store Brand (dir. Jaki Bradley), which is being developed by The Civilians and current commissions from Mike Bosner Productions, Jill Furman Productions, Arena Stage and Ars Nova. He is currently a writer-in-residence with The Orchard Project Greenhouse and Ars Nova.