New Playwrights’ unit deepens Goodman Theatre’s commitment to emerging American Writers

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 Chicagoans Seth Bockley, Lisa Dillman, Laura Jacqmin and Rohina Malik appointed the First Playwrights to this Season-Long Residency


Chicago, IL – Goodman Theatre proudly launches the Playwrights’ Unit—a brand new season-long residency program designed to nurture Chicago’s most promising playwrights.

 The four inaugural writers, selected by Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Robert Falls and the Goodman’s artistic staff, are Seth Bockley (Jon, The Twins Would Like to Say; winner of the Goodman’s 2009 Ofner Prize), Lisa Dillman (Detail of a Larger Work, Rock Shore), Laura Jacqmin (Ski Dubai, Look, We are Breathing) and Rohina Malik (Yasmina’s Necklace, Unveiled. The writers will develop new plays over the course of the residency, culminating in final readings of their works-in-progress in Spring 2011.

 The Playwrights’ Unit is part of the Goodman’s ongoing initiatives to commission and develop new plays. This ambitious program has resulted in such plays as the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner Ruined by Lynn Nottage and the upcoming Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl and Mary by Thomas Bradshaw—as well as the New Stages Series (January 14 – 16 and 21 – 23, 2011).

 “It’s exciting to deepen our commitment to these talented Chicago playwrights,” said Tanya Palmer, Goodman’s Director of New Play Development. “In selecting four very different writers with different levels of experience and approaches to their work, we also hope to create a vibrant and challenging writers group—so that the playwrights can not only benefit from the support that the Goodman will provide over the course of the season, but also from each other.”

Over the last 15 years, the Goodman has awarded commissions to both emerging and established writers in order to ensure creativity and the production of fresh, poignant material for the stage. The Goodman’s commitment to women playwrights, in particular, has fueled the success of some of the most talented living writers today, including Rebecca Gilman, Sarah Ruhl and Lynn Nottage. Other writers currently under commission at the Goodman are Kristoffer Diaz, Joyce Award-winner Quiara Alegería Hudes, Itamar Moses, Dael Orlandersmith and Tracey Scott Wilson.

With the establishment of the Ofner Prize—a commission named for former Goodman Chairman, the late David Ofner, that is awarded biennially to an emerging Chicago writer— in 2000, the Goodman made an additional commitment to supporting promising local writers. Past winners include David Barr, Carson Grace Becker, Brett Neveu, Carlos Murillo and Tanya Saracho.

The Goodman’s New Stages Series has provided the first look at more than 35 new plays, many of which have gone on to receive world premiere productions at the Goodman. Others have been produced at theaters across the country, including Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, New York’s The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Theatre Company and Geffen Playhouse. A complete list of these productions is available upon request. New work at the Goodman is supported in part by generous grants from the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and The Glasser and Rosenthal Family, and was instituted by the Lester and Hope Abelson Fund for Artistic Development. The Davee Foundation is a major contributor to research and development for new work; The Joyce Foundation provides principal support for Artistic Development and Diversity Initiatives; The Edgerton Foundation has provided generous support for an extra week of rehearsal times for new work, including Stage Kiss and Chinglish; and Prince Charitable Trusts is the leading contributor to the Goodman’s New Works Endowment Fund.

About the Writers in the Playwrights’ Unit:  Seth Bockley is a Chicago-based playwright, director and performer who has created original and adapted scripts for Dog & Pony Theatre Co. (The Twins Would Like To Say), Collaboraction (Jon) and Redmoon Theater (Boneyard Prayer, Laika’s Coffin, The Picture Book), where he spent two years as a Directing Apprentice through Theater Communication Group’s New Generations program. Current commissions include the book for February House, a collaboration with lyricist and composer Gabriel Kahane for The Public Theater’s Musical Theater Initiative and an adaptation of CommComm by George Saunders for the Goodman’s Ofner Prize. He is the recipient of the 2009 Jeff Award for Best New Adaptation for Jon. Lisa Dillman’s plays include Detail of a Larger Work (world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; also produced by Hypothetical Theatre Company); Half of Plenty (world premiere at American Theatre Company, also produced by Summer Play Festival and Rogue Machine Theatre); Flung (commissioned by Steppenwolf; world premiere at American Theatre Company; published by Dramatic Publishing); The Walls, Shady Meadows and Chiaroscuro (all commissioned by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); and Ground (commissioned by Northlight Theatre; world premiere at 2010 Humana Festival of New American Plays). Laura Jacqmin was the winner of the 2008 Wendy Wasserstein Prize, a $25,000 award recognizing an emerging female playwright. Her play Ski Dubai was produced in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 5th annual First Look Repertory of New Work. Look, We are Breathing was workshopped at the 2010 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, directed by Mark Brokaw. Other plays include Folk Song, Dental Society Midwinter Meeting (to premiere in association with Chicago Dramatists in May 2011) and Do-Gooder (nominated for the Cherry Lane Theatre 2011 Mentor Project). Her plays have been produced and developed by Goodman Theatre, Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, Second Stage Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago Dramatists, The 24 Hour Plays Off-Broadway and others. Rohina Malik is a Chicago-based playwright, actress and solo performance artist. Last year, her one-woman play Unveiled directed by Ann Filmer had its world premiere at 16th Street Theater, where Malik performed to sold-out houses and received critical acclaim. Unveiled received a second production at Victory Gardens Theater and recently received its third production at Next Theatre Company. Her new play, Yasmina’s Necklace, was workshopped during Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Series (directed by Henry Godinez) and was a finalist for Victory Gardens Theater’s 2010 Ignition Festival. She was recently nominated for a 3 Arts Artist Award in playwriting. She was born and raised in London, is of South Asian heritage and is a graduate of DePaul University.

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