The Oregon Shakespeare Festival continues to expand its ongoing commitment to the development and production of new work with five new commissions. American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle adds Ayad Akhtar, Kirsten Greenidge, Stephen Karam, Lisa Loomer and Karen Zacarías to its list of commissioned writers.
"We are incredibly proud to support the work of these extraordinary artists," OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said. "I am amazed by the stunning diversity of voices, culturally and aesthetically, among these five writers. This group really captures the promise of the American Revolutions cycle."
To date, OSF has commissioned 21 projects for American Revolutions.
In 2012, two American Revolutions plays were produced in one season: Party People by UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz, William Ruiz, a.k.a. Ninja) and Robert Schenkkan's All the Way. It was announced Tuesday that both plays are among the five finalists nominated for the Kennedy Theater Prize. This new $100,000 award was established to honor Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his interest in American history. The winner of the annual prize will be announced on Feb. 22.
Also staged in 2012 was Frank Galati's The March, a co-commission with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, produced this season at Steppenwolf.
Prior to this season, OSF produced American Night by Culture Clash and Richard Montoya (2010) and Ghost Light, written by Tony Taccone, and conceived and developed by Taccone and Jonathan Moscone (2011).
In addition to the five writers already noted, OSF also has commissioned Richard Montoya to re-envision American Night for its annual School Visit Program, in which six pairs of actor-teachers perform for more than 70,000 students in schools in four states (CA, OR, WA, KS). This will be the first time an American Revolutions commission will be transformed to be part of OSF's ongoing education programs. "We are committed to bringing the vision and artistry of American Revolutions writers to all of our audiences," says Alison Carey, director of the history cycle, "and we are incredibly proud to imagine students watching American Night's Juan José, an aspiring immigrant, encounter the play's remarkable history dreamscape."
In 2013, Naomi Wallace's The Liquid Plain, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, will run from July 2 to November 3 in the Thomas Theatre. This production is a co-commission with Baltimore's CenterStage. Wallace was one of two recipients of the 2012 Horton Foote Prize, a biennial award named for legendary playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote. The Liquid Plain received the award for promising new American play.
American Revolutions is supported by three-year grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. They have renewed their support and given the second multi-year grant to American Revolutions for 2013-2015.
"Through a commitment to the creation of new and relevant work, American Revolutions is bringing diverse and contemporary voices to American theater and to the national dialogue," said Jim McDonald, Senior Program Officer at the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
About the writers:
Ayad Akhtar is an actor, director, screenwriter and playwright. His latest stage plays are Disgraced and The Invisible Hand. Disgraced premiered in Chicago at the American Theater Company in early 2012 and went to the Lincoln Center in the fall of 2012. The Invisible Hand premiered at The Repertory Theater of St Louis in March of 2012. American Dervish, his first novel, was published in January 2012, and will be released in 22 languages worldwide.