Will Arbery – Will Arbery is from Texas + Wyoming + seven sisters. His play Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Playwrights Horizons) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and the winner of the Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and the John Gassner Playwriting Award. He’s the winner of a Whiting Award for Drama, and he was the Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Playwrights Horizons. Other plays include Plano (Clubbed Thumb), Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (New Neighborhood), and Wheelchair (3 Hole Press). Commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Audible, and MTC. New plays include Corsicana, developed at Playwrights Horizons and Page 73, and You Hateful Things, developed at The Public, NYTW, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. He’s a member of New Dramatists and EST/Youngblood. Film/TV: Succession (HBO), Animal Kingdom, A24, HBO, Fox 21. willarbery.com
Nan Barnett – Nan Barnett is a new play developer and producer and an advocate for theater-makers and the theater they make. She is the Executive Director of National New Play Network, the country’s alliance of more than 125 theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays. While on NNPN’s Executive Committee she worked to create the organization’s revolutionary Rolling World Premiere and Residency programs. She came to the Network full-time in 2013. and guided it through the development and launch of its field-altering database, the New Play Exchange®, now home to more than 30,000 plays by living writers, and its much recent strategic planning process, which resulted in the organization’s much-lauded new governance structure and action plan for creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive new play ecosystem. Nan was the long-time Managing Director of Florida Stage, which was the nation’s largest company producing exclusively new and developing work, the Coordinating Producer for the 2015 and 2018 iterations of the nationally acclaimed Women’s Voices Theater Festival and was a member of the inaugural Helen Hayes Awards’ New Play Panel for the national capital region. She serves on the Artistic Councils of the O’Neill Theater Center and PlayPenn and was inducted into the National Theatre Conference in 2017.
George Brant – George Brant’s plays include Grounded, Marie and Rosetta, Into the Breeches!, The Prince of Providence, Elephant’s Graveyard, Tender Age, and The Mourners’ Bench. An Affiliate Writer at the Playwrights’ Center, his scripts have been produced internationally by such companies as the Public Theater, the Atlantic Theater Company, Cleveland Play House, Trinity Repertory Company, London’s Gate Theatre, Page 73, and the Traverse Theatre. His plays have received a Lucille Lortel Award, an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Smith Prize, a Edinburgh Fringe First Award, and the Keene Prize for Literature. George received his MFA in Writing from the Michener Center at UT-Austin and is published by Samuel French. He is currently working on a stage adaptation of the novel Crooked River Burning, a musical version of The Land of Oz, and adapting Grounded into an opera with Jeanine Tesori.
Larissa FastHorse – Larissa FastHorse (Sicangu Lakota) is an award winning writer and co-founder of Indigenous Direction. Larissa’s produced plays include The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons), What Would Crazy Horse Do? (KCRep), Landless and Cow Pie Bingo (AlterTheater), Average Family (Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis), Teaching Disco Squaredancing to Our Elders: a Class Presentation (Native Voices at the Autry), Vanishing Point (Eagle Project) and Cherokee Family Reunion (Mountainside Theater).
Larissa’s unique model of Indigenous community generated theater has been honed through a seven year partnership with Cornerstone Theater Company. Together they have worked with Indigenous communities in Los Angeles and Arizona to create the immersive theatrical experiences, Urban Rez and Native Nation, which showcased the art of 400 Indigenous peoples. Their current project, The L/D/Nakota Project is set in Larissa’s homelands of South Dakota. Currently the process is being radically changed to support community partners in their fight against Covid and the economic fallout that is hitting Native communities so hard.
After a career of being the first or only Native American in the building, Larissa joined with Ty Defoe to form Indigenous Direction, a consulting firm for organizations who want to engage with Indigenous art, artists and audiences. Current clients include Guthrie Theater, Western Arts Alliance, and Roundabout Theater Company.
Additional theaters that have commissioned or developed plays with Larissa include Yale Rep, Guthrie, Geffen Playhouse, History Theater, Kennedy Center TYA, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Arizona Theater Company, Mixed Blood, Perseverance Theater Company, The Lark Playwrights Week, the Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop and Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor. She has recently returned to film and TV and is developing projects for Disney and NBC.
Larissa’s awards include the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award for an American Playwright, NEA Distinguished New Play Development Grant, Joe Dowling Annamaghkerrig Fellowship, AATE Distinguished Play Award, Inge Residency, Sundance/Ford Foundation Fellowship, Aurand Harris Fellowship, the UCLA Native American Program Woman of the Year and numerous Creative Capital, MAP Fund, Ford, Mellon and NEA Grants. Larissa is the co-founder of Indigenous Direction, a consulting company. She is vice chair of the board of directors of Theater Communications group and represented by Jonathan Mills at Paradigm NY. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband, the sculptor Edd Hogan.
Nambi E. Kelley – Award-winning playwright and actress Nambi E. Kelley was chosen by literary legend Toni Morrison to adapt her novel Jazz for the stage (Marin Theatre Company, Baltimore Center Stage). Nambi also penned an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son that has been seen most notably at The Duke on 42nd Street (Off-Broadway Premiere, The Acting Company), Yale Repertory Theatre, and the Court Theatre in Chicago (world premiere). Nambi has also written plays for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center (Director’s Fest), and international venues. She is a former playwright-in-residence at the National Black Theatre in New York (I Am Soul residency) and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago (Playwrights Unit). She most recently served in residence at New Victory Theatre and as a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow. Nambi has been recognized with several awards and nominations including the AUDELCO Award for “Best Production” for Native Son (Off-Broadway Premiere 2019), a Drama League nomination for “Best Revival” for the same production; the Prince Prize 2019; and a Dramatists Guild Foundation Writers Alliance Grant 2018-19. Current commissions include a play based on the life of Stokely Carmichael (Prince Prize/Court Theatre) and one on African American icon Dr. Maya Angelou (North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre). Nambi earned a BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. www.nambikelley.com.
Kimber Lee – Plays include to the yellow house (upcoming at La Jolla Playhouse), untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play (2019 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), tokyo fish story (South Coast Rep, TheatreWorks/SV, Old Globe), brownsville song (b-side for tray)(Humana Festival, LCT3, Long Wharf Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Seattle Rep, Moxie Theatre, Shotgun Players), and different words for the same thing directed by Neel Keller (Center Theatre Group). She has developed work with Lark Play Development Center, The Ground Floor/Berkeley Rep, Page 73, Hedgebrook, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Great Plains Theatre Conference, ACT Theatre/Seattle, Premiere Stages, MTC, and Magic Theatre/Virgin Series. Lark Playwrights Workshop Fellow, Dramatists Guild Fellow, member of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and recipient of the Ruby Prize, PoNY Fellowship, Hartford Stage New Voices Fellowship, BAU Institute Arts Residency Award, Kilroys List, 2020-2021 Hodder Fellowship, Finalist for the 2020 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and inaugural winner of the Bruntwood Prize International Award (2019). MFA: UT Austin.
Madhuri Shekar – Madhuri Shekar is the 2020 recipient of the Lanford Wilson Award for playwriting. Her plays include In Love and Warcraft, A Nice Indian Boy, Queen, House of Joy and Dhaba on Devon Avenue. Her audio play Evil Eye was named one of the top 10 Audible titles of 2019, and won the 2020 Audie Award for Best Original Work. She is a graduate of the Juilliard playwriting program and a fellow at New Dramatists. @madplays www.madhurishekar.com
Susan Westfall – Susi founded City Theatre is 1996, which is the only professional theatre in the country developing, commissioning and producing short plays and musicals year round and for all ages. As City Theatre’s Literary Director, Susi supervises the company’s outreach to playwrights, agents and publishers; coordinates the City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting which recognizes and awards excellence in writing for the short play/musical genre, contributes to the play selections for programming; assists with educational outreach including NextGen, and CityWrights: Professional Week for Playwrights, a national playwright conference held during Summer Shorts. Susi’s plays include (for Zoom) Quarantinis In The Time of COVID; The Bestseller, A Stitch in Time, Two Weekends and a Day, Look At Me (Published in “Best Short Plays 2011”), Rats, The Boy From Russia, Uprising, The Wedding Party, Passing Through (Heideman Finalist), With the Patience of Angels (Heideman Finalist), 1962, You Are Here, and Voices at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel. Susi is most surprised by her one minute play Feel The Tango, that grew into a short play produced by City Theatre for SUMMER SHORTS and sailed the seas with Shorts On Ships (Azamara Club Cruises), was adapted as an LGBT work called Be The Change, was adapted as short opera version Tango! (Joe Illick, librettist/composer) performed at Performance Santa Fe and the Fort Worth Opera and other opera companies in the program Brief Encounters, and has most recently been adapted as Feel The Tango, A Brief Musical! with music by Joe Illick, poised for production in City Theatre’s 25th Anniversary of SUMMER SHORTS now scheduled for June 2021. Susan is a native Miamian, holds a BFA in Playwriting from FSU, lives on Key Biscayne with her husband Alan Fein, and enjoys visits from sons Jake and Pete Fein.
Karen Zacarías – Karen Zacarías is named by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the U.S. Her new play The Copper Children premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in March 2020; her play Destiny of Desire was to have a raucous run at Cincinnati Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep, and The Guthrie. Her bilingual adaptation Romeo y Juliet was postponed at Cal Shakes. Other plays: Native Gardens, The Age of Innocence, The Book Club Play, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, Just Like Us, Into the Beautiful North. Karen is the founder of award-winning Young Playwrights’ Theater, a core-founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons. She is a 2019 Washingtonian of the Year; 2019 Sine Fellow for Policy Innovation Recipient of 2019 Lee-Reynolds-Award for “social, cultural, or political change with theater” and the 2019 Medallion by the Children’s Theater Foundation. She was a 2019 speaker at TEDX Broadway. She lives in Washington DC with her family. www.KarenZacarias.com
HONORARY FESTIVAL PLAYWRIGHT – Dominique Morisseau – Dominique Morisseau is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Centre Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless” (3 seasons). Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-2018, and a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.