Magazine article American Theatre

Cultivating Writers Fresh off the Vine

Magazine article American Theatre

Cultivating Writers Fresh off the Vine

Article excerpt

ATLANTA: In an Alliance Theatre conference room, Todd London, artistic director of New York's New Dramatists, is detailing the findings of his much-discussed new book Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play (published by Theatre Development Fund) in which playwrights describe an increasing alienation from a theatre establishment they believe to be more focused on selling tickets than taking chances on unknown voices.

But other goings-on at the Alliance on this February day would seem to contradict London's study. Just down the hall, "Kendeda Week" is in full swing, and five newly minted American plays are being brought into the sunshine, courtesy of the company's Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. Founded in 2003 by artistic director Susan V. Booth and named for an anonymously funded Atlanta philanthropic foundation, the program is designed to forge relationships with fresh-off-the-vine dramatists from graduate programs around the country. Each season, scripts by four Kendeda finalists are given staged readings in New York and Atlanta, and the winning play is honored with a world-premiere run on the Alliance's 200-seat Hertz Stage.

The young program has been remarkably effective, targeting hotshot talents who are landing commissions and productions on other stages. Tarell Alvin McCraney's In the Red and Brown Water, a 2008 winner, went on to New Jersey's McCarter Theatre Center and NYC's Public Theater. …

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