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
Kia Corthron was the 2017 resident playwright at Chicago’s Eclipse Theatre, which produced three of her plays. In the summer of 2018 she co-produced and contributed to Imagine: Yemen, an evening of short plays addressing the crisis in Yemen. Awards for her body of work include the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the USArtists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, the McKnight National Residency, the Otto Award for Political Theatre and the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Lee Reynolds Award. Her plays have been produced in New York by Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Brooklyn Academy of Music; regionally by ATL Humana, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, NY Stage and Film, Baltimore's Center Stage, Yale Rep and Hartford Stage; and in London by the Royal Court Theatre and Donmar Warehouse. TV credits include The Jury and The Wire. Her debut novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter was the winner of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, is a New Dramatists alumnus and is a member of the Authors Guild.
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.
Idris Goodwin is a playwright, director, break beat poet and educator. He is the producing artistic director of Stage One Family Theater in Louisville, KY for which he penned the award-winning and widely produced And In This Corner: Cassius Clay. Other plays include How We Got On, This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval, Bars and Measures and Hype Man: a break beat play. Idris's play The Way The Mountain Moved was commissioned and produced as part of Oregon Shakespeare’s groundbreaking American Revolutions series. His work has been produced Off-Broadway, as well as at The Humana Festival at Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theater, The Kennedy Center, The Denver Center for The Performing Arts, Cleveland Playhouse and Company One. Idris is a highly sought-after writer for young audiences, produced and commissioned by children's theaters across the country. He has received awards and development support from the NEA; The Ford, Mellon and Edgerton Foundations; Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Program; The Eugene O’Neill Center; The Lark Playwriting Center; and New Harmony Project. Idris is the 2018-2019 recipient of the Playwright Center's McKnight Fellowship. These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011), his debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Inauguration, a chapbook co-written with Nico Wilkinson (Haymarket Books), won the 2017 Literary Arts Award from The Pikes Peak Arts Council. He's performed his poetry on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio. Idris is a member of The Dramatists Guild and serves on the boards of TYA/USA and The Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.
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.
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.
Octavio Solis is a playwright and director whose works Mother Road, Quixote Nuevo, Hole in the Sky, Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven, Ghosts of the River, Quixote, Lydia, June in a Box, Lethe, Marfa Lights, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, The 7 Visions of Encarnación, Bethlehem, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Man of the Flesh, Prospect, El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos and La Posada Mágica have been mounted at the California Shakespeare Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Dallas Theater Center, the Magic Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, South Coast Repertory Theatre, the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Shadowlight Productions, the Venture Theatre in Philadelphia, Latino Chicago Theatre Company, Boston Court and Kitchen Dog Theatre, the New York Summer Play Festival, Teatro Vista in Chicago, El Teatro Campesino, the Undermain Theatre in Dallas, Thick Description, Campo Santo, the Imua Theatre Company in New York and Cornerstone Theatre. His collaborative works include Cloudlands, with music by Adam Gwon; Burning Dreams, cowritten with Julie Hebert and Gina Leishman; and Shiner, written with Erik Ehn. Octavio has received an NEA 1995-97 Playwriting Fellowship, the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center, the Will Glickman Playwright Award, a production grant from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the 1998 TCG/NEA Theatre Artists in Residence Grant, the 1998 McKnight Fellowship grant from the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis and the National Latino Playwriting Award for 2003. He is the recipient of the 2000-2001 National Theatre Artists Residency Grant from TCG and the Pew Charitable Trust, the United States Artists Fellowship for 2011 and the 2104 Pen Center USA Award for Drama. Octavio is a Thornton Wilder Fellow for the MacDowell Colony, a New Dramatists alum and a member of the Dramatists Guild. He is working on commissions for SF Playhouse and South Coast Repertory Theatre, in addition to Arena Stage.
Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered at South Coast Rep. with subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, City Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Signature Theatre, Portland Center Stage and Jungle Theatre. Her play The Great Leap has been produced at the Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, InterAct Theatre and Steppenwolf, with future productions at Long Wharf and Asolo Rep/Miami New Drama. Honors include: the Doris Duke Artists Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton and the number one and number two plays on the 2017 Kilroys List. She's a residency five playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists members, Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and Playwrights Realm alumni playwright. TV credits include: “Pachinko” (Apple) and “Soundtrack” (Netflix). Current commissions include: Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage and South Coast Rep. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD. www.laurenyee.com
Karen Zacarías 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.