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The Lark Announces Line Up of Six Plays for 24th Annual Playwrights' Week

Lark News
Headshots of the six writers of playwrights' week 2017, interspersed with color blocks.
(From left to right) Top row: Sam Chanse, Caroline V. McGraw, Eric John Meyer. Bottom row: Larissa FastHorse, Francisco Mendoza, Briandaniel Oglesby.

NEW YORK, NY– The Lark is thrilled to announce six plays and playwrights have been chosen through its Open Access Program for the 24th Annual Playwrights’ Week.  This year’s plays, selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 submissions, will be: The Other Instinct by Sam Chanse;The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse; I Get Restlessby Caroline V. McGraw; Machine Learningby Francisco Mendoza;The Antelope Party by Eric John Meyer; and Small Steps by Briandaniel Oglesby. Playwrights’ Week will culminate in a festival of public readings, which will take place October 30 – November 4, 2017. The week will kick off with The Lark’s annual Meet the Writers event, sponsored by Dramatists Play Service, featuring a panel discussion with the writers, and excerpts from each of the plays, read by the playwrights themselves. The event will be moderated by The Lark’s Andrea Hiebler (Director of Scouting and Submissions) and Krista Williams (Roundtable and Casting Director), which will be streamed via Facebook Live on The Lark’s Facebook page. For the full schedule and for information regarding tickets, click here.

"This dynamic group of plays delves deep into lingering and looming questions about how we are reckoning with a rapidly changing world by confronting everything from specters of history to stunning scientific and technological advancements,”
said Andrea Hiebler, Director of Scouting and Submissions at The Lark.  “These writers grapple with themes of intimacy, alienation and interdependence and their effect on personal and collective identities in surprising and illuminating ways."

The selected playwrights participate in an intensive seven-day retreat, designed to foster a peer-based community among the writers, their creative teams, and The Lark’s staff, through a series of conversations around the work. The playwrights receive ten hours of rehearsal in advance of a public staged reading, focusing on the writer’s self-stated developmental goals.

Two actors make notes on scripts in their laps.
Playwrights’ Week aims to provide support for plays in various stages of development, by writers at a range of places in their careers.  Each submission is read with all of the writer’s identifying information removed by a committee of readers from across the country within The Lark’s network, and evaluated using a multi-step process that reviews the play’s strength of voice, uniqueness of perspective, and emotional impact. Recommended plays advance through a careful assessment of the author's statement, which details their goals for developing the script, and how they believe The Lark's particular process would be beneficial.

So often the work of revising a play is lonely and relentless. It's easy to get lost or stuck in a corner. But at The Lark, I felt a sense of momentum and energy, not only around the six plays but theater as a whole,” said Sarah Saltwick, whose play Europa was part of Playwrights’ Week 2016. “I keep thinking of the word celebration. It's the best way to describe it - these were not easy plays. They were full of pain and struggle.  And yet, there was always this incredible energy and buzz in the audience. They were excited to be there and to go on these journeys.”

Other recent works developed in Playwrights’ Week include: The Found Dog Ribbon Dance by Dominic Finocchiaro, which will receive its world premiere at Echo Theater Company in January; The Blameless by Nick Gandiello, produced by The Old Globe in February 2017; No More Sad Things by Hansol Jun, now running through October 7, 2017 at Forward Flux Productions; Pilgrims by Claire Kiechel, produced by the Gift Theatre in June 2017; Detroit ‘67 by Dominique Morisseau, winner of the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, produced by the Public Theater; and The Nether by Jennifer Haley, winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, winner of seven Ovation Awards (2013) including “Playwriting for an Original Play,” and produced by Center Theatre Group.

Playwrights' Week is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and Axe-Houghton Foundation.


THE PLAYS

The Other Instinct by Samantha Chanse – Tara serves as a gestational surrogate in a Gujarat clinic for Denise, thousands of miles away in California. Each woman is set on realizing her dreams in a rapidly changing world, but complications only intensify as a deeply personal experience becomes a global transaction.   

The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse – Four people attempt to devise a politically correct play for the local schools to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Native American Month.  In order to be as respectful and accurate as possible, the three white actors defer to the only Native American in the room for guidance – a woman whose perspective on history and cultural respect is wildly different from their own.

I Get Restless by Caroline V. McGraw – Hazel just started a job at a top law firm, bought a condo, and married a man who adores her. But, after an accident on her honeymoon, she can't remember how--or anything else about the past six years. Now Hazel must find out who she is without the help of who she was.

Machine Learning by Francisco Mendoza – When his estranged, alcoholic father is diagnosed with liver cancer, computer scientist Jorge creates a nursing app to manage the disease. But as the machine's capabilities grow, it attracts the attention of the tech industry, forcing Jorge to choose between staying by his father's side or dedicating to his passion. Dealing with issues of immigration, legacy, and life dreams, Machine Learning explores what it means to be children - and what it means to be parents.

The Antelope Party by Eric John Meyer – Times may be tough in the neighborhood, but the Rust Belt Bronies Meet Up Group for Adult Fans of My Little Pony is still gathering weekly to share their feelings, their homemade costumes, and their love for Twilight Sparkle and the rest of the Mane Six. It's an innocent escape from reality--until one of their meetings is interrupted by the neighborhood watch. People used to think the neighborhood watch was a joke. But lately they've been getting more popular--and more aggressive. It's not funny anymore. And it's definitely not a game. But when they start demanding everyone play by their rules, what's a Brony to do?

Small Steps by Briandaniel Oglesby – Finally fed up with the bot-and-disappointment-filled world of online gay dating, Skip Powers volunteers to go to Mars. The National Association of Space Astronauts says, “Sure, you'll do." This is a comedy that travels a million years and 50 million miles.


THE PLAYWRIGHTS

Sam Chanse’s plays include The Opportunities of Extinction, The Other Instinct, Fruiting Bodies, what you are now, and Lydia’s Funeral Video. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova’s Play Group. A former Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, and Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellow at The Lark, she has also received residencies from Djerassi, Tofte Lake Center, and SPACE at Ryder Farm. Her work has been recognized by The Kilroys, and commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her first solo play, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is published by Kaya Press. Her work has also been developed with The Civilians R&D Group, The Yale Institute of Musical Theatre, The Claque, Labyrinth Theater, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, Stage Left, Bindlestiff Studio, Asian American Theater Company, and the New York International Fringe Festival.

Larissa FastHorse is an award winning playwright and member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation.  Larissa's produced plays include What Would Crazy Horse Do?, Urban Rez, Landless, Average Family, Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation, Vanishing Point and Cherokee Family Reunion.  The Thanksgiving Play is scheduled for two productions in the next year.  Her immersive play, Urban Rez, is being developed as a national tour with a premier at ASU Gammage and funding by NEFA.  Larissa won the PEN USA Literary Award for Drama, NEA Distinguished New Play Grant, Joe Dowling Annamaghkerrig Fellowship, AATE Distinguished Play Award, Inge Residency, Sundance/Ford Foundation Fellowship, Aurand Harris Fellowship, the UCLA Native American Woman of the Year and numerous Ford, Mellon and NEA Grants. Larissa directed the critically acclaimed play, Our Voices Will Be Heard (Perseverance Theater Company) and is developing several new projects to direct with an emphasis on cross cultural community engaged work between Indigenous nations. She is a current member of the Playwright’s Union, Director’s Lab West 2015, and Playwright’s Center Core Writers.  She is represented by Jonathan Mills at Paradigm NY.  Learn more about her work on hoganhorsestudio.com.

Caroline V. McGraw's plays include Ultimate Beauty Bible, Believeland, The Bachelors, Tall Skinny Cruel Cruel Boys, The Vaults, and The King is Dead. She co-created the feminist pop extravaganza Baby No More Times, seen at the Lark in a Studio Retreat. Her work has been produced and developed all around the country, at companies such as Page 73, Lesser America, Theater Ninjas, New Georges, Yale Cabaret, Naked Angels, Second Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Studio 42, IAMA Theater Company, Washington Ensemble Theatre, City Theatre Pittsburgh, and Ars Nova ANT Fest, among others. She has been in residence at Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, Wordbridge Playwrights’ Lab, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. She is an alum of the New Georges Jam, the Civilians R&D Group, I73, and the Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group. Four of her plays have received honorable mentions to the Kilroys List. Caroline was the 2013 Page 73 Playwriting Fellow, as well as Page 73's 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence. She is working on commissions from Yale Rep and Manhattan Theatre Club/The Sloan Foundation. Caroline is a graduate of the Playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama, where she studied under Paula Vogel.

Francisco Mendoza is an Argentinian writer who recently graduated as a fellow from the Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing MFA program. His scripts include TV pilot Land Most Loved (Winner, Ivy Film Festival; Finalist, Sundance Lab), digital series Hairy Legs Hannah's Feminist Quarter-Hour (official selection, Austin Film Festival), screenplay Temple on Fire (official selection, Oxaca Film Festival), and stage play Machine Learning, which will get its first public New York reading at the Lark's 2017 Playwrights Week. You can find more about Francisco’s work on notrealmendoza.com

Eric John Meyer is a playwright and performer based in New York City. His plays include The Antelope Party, which will receive its world premiere at Chicago's Theater Wit in January 2018,  The Apocryphal Tragedy of King Michael (Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb SuperLab), and The Sister (Dutch Kills, Edinburgh Fringe ****). His plays have been developed or presented by Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Vineyard Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea, and Dutch Kills Theater Company, among others. Eric is a co-founder of Human Head Performance Group, which he established with his partner, Jean Ann Douglass. Their collaborative work includes one play for performance in a theater, Due to Events (The Brick), and several plays for performance inside box trucks and other unconventional spaces. Eric is a member of the Actor's Studio Playwright/Director Unit and a recipient of a Weingarten new play commission from Playwrights Horizons. As an actor, Eric recently performed in Human Head's production of Obfuscation at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival and he appears in the upcoming horror movie The Moose Head Over the Mantle (Inappropriate Films). He received his MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College.

Briandaniel Oglesby is a queer and mixed Latino playwright from northern California, now living in Austin, Texas. He writes plays for teens and plays of mature audiences. He takes his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, he’d earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside. For ten years, he was Literary Manager of Barnyard Theatre, a company he co-founded that developed and produced tech-heavy shows in a dirt-floored barn. He previously worked on the play Halfway, Nebraska at Playwrights Week at the Lark; this play won an award for Outstanding Playwriting from the New York International Fringe Festival. He was a three-time national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival before his play She Gets Naked in the End won the Latinidad Award. He has been a finalist for the Heideman Award a few times. As the Director of Theatre Arts at Skybridge Academy, a small private school in Dripping Spring, Texas, he writes many plays for and with young people, including a gay re-imagination of [a different] Romeo & Juliet he produced with junior high students.


ABOUT DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE

Formed in 1936 by a number of prominent playwrights and theatre agents, Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (DPS) was created to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works.  DPS has since grown steadily to become one of the premier play-licensing and theatrical publishing agencies in the world. Offering an extensive list of titles that includes many of the most significant plays of the past century, DPS preserves the rich history of drama.   It works with thousands of theatres to ensure the future vitality of the theatre.  It is committed to providing a home for established writers and to nurturing new playwrights of exceptional promise.  Dramatists Play Service is sponsoring the 2017 Meet the Writers event.

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