Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces that Obie Award-winning playwright Samuel D. Hunter will join the American Voices New Play Institute (AVNPI) as a yearlong resident playwright in 2013. Known for his recent play A Bright New Boise, Hunter’s work has been produced at theaters across the United States and internationally. Also implemented as part of the AVNPI this year is the launch of the Playwrights’ Arena, a new program for six local playwrights to engage with the artistic life of Arena Stage.
“Samuel Hunter is a superb playwright and a natural fit for our resident playwright program,” says Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. “When I saw his recent play A Bright New Boise, I was struck by his distinctive voice. Our playwright program will continue to evolve under the guidance of our new Director of Artistic Programming David Snider, and the launch of the Playwrights’ Arena will be an important new program.”
“One of the biggest challenges for me – and I think I speak for most playwrights when I say this – is the lack of stability in this profession,” says Hunter. “A residency like this provides me with the stability to focus all of my energy on writing plays, and I intend to spend the year building my body of work. It’s incredibly humbling and overwhelming to be on the same list as these other resident playwrights; it’s an amazing group to be part of.”
Hunter continues, “I’m also very excited about meeting other playwrights in the D.C. community.” As part of his residency, he hopes to host nights dubbed the Playwrights’ Salon, where select playwrights who are active in the D.C. theater scene will be invited to gather, network and learn from one another in an informal setting. Given the often solitary nature of playwriting, this will offer playwrights an opportunity to enrich themselves and each other professionally.
Hunter joins current resident playwrights Amy Freed, Katori Hall, Lisa Kron, Charles Randolph-Wright and Karen Zacarías. Launched in 2010 as part of the American Voices New Play Institute, the residency program is to help playwrights write and develop new work. The residencies provide an annual stipend, health benefits, local housing and a development budget to be used at the playwrights’ discretion to cover collaborator fees, workshop costs and research expenses that support the creation of their plays. For more information regarding the Playwright Residencies, visit arenastage.org/new-play-institute/playwright-residencies/.
Samuel Hunter and all of the resident writers will receive support from Jocelyn Clarke, the literary advisor for the Institute. Clarke is an acclaimed dramaturg and writer, currently a theater advisor to the Arts Council of Ireland and an associate artist with The Civilians. Clarke was previously the Commissioning and Literary Manager of The Abbey Theatre.
Also through the American Voices New Play Institute, Director of Artistic Programming David Snider will be launching the Playwrights’ Arena in 2013 specifically for local playwrights. Six local playwrights will be selected to participate in a year of personal and professional growth at Arena Stage, giving them the opportunity to investigate and to develop their writing with support from the resident playwrights, Arena Stage staff and others. The aim of this program is to provide a collaborative and collegial working laboratory environment for the playwrights, without the pressure of a public sharing of their work. Selected playwrights and additional information will come at a later date.