NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights

The NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights has been sunset and no future rounds of this program will be offered.


The NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, jointly developed by Theatre Communications Group and the National Endowment for the Arts, afforded playwrights the opportunity to create new plays in residence at a host theatre and to become an integral part of the theatre's artistic life and community activities. The Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights placed playwrights at the center of the creative process, adding artistic depth to institutions and bringing the writer and community together.

Playwright residences were made possible by major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and were supported, in part, by The Ford Foundation's New Works Program. Playwrights received $25,000 each in support of the residencies. In addition, host theatres were provided with $4,500 each to enhance their ability to support the work of the resident playwright.

Round 9 Recipients

Lydia R. Diamond will continue development on her play for young adults, Harriet Jacobs, based on Harriet Jacob’s true slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Ms. Diamond will be in residence at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL). She also will work with young adult and adult audiences through the Steppenwolf for Young Adults education program, which will use the production of Harriet Jacobs as a tool for enriched learning through in-school residencies, teacher development workshops and audience engagement initiatives.

Dan Dietz will be in residence at Salvage Vanguard Theater (Austin, TX). He will develop a play called The Difference Engine, exploring the relationship between the brilliant 19th century engineer Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, mathematical visionary, and drug addict. Mr. Dietz will also develop a series of playwriting workshops that focus specifically on using drama to excite students about math, science and history.

Leigh Fondakowski will be in residence at About Face Theatre (Chicago, IL) working on an all-female ensemble piece about dthe life and work of Charlotte Cushman adapted in part from the biography, When Romeo Was a Woman by Lisa Merrill. Charlotte Cushman, a 19th century American actress, challenged Victorian notions of gender in her stage portrayals of male characters and strong, androgynous females. Ms. Fondakowski will also teach several workshops with About Face Youth Theatre using Moment Work, the technique developed by Tectonic Theatre Project. She will also participate in post-performance discussions and audience engagement throughout the residency.

Marcus Gardley will write a play called A Soul for Interchangeable Parts, telling the story of the search for the true inventor of the cotton gin. Mr. Gardley will be residence at Yale Repertory Theatre (New Haven, CT) and will also work with Yale Repertory Theatre's outreach programs to teach playwriting to New Haven public high school students.

Josefina Lopez will be in residence at Brava Theater Center (San Francisco, CA).  Ms. Lopez will work on her play, Trio Los Machos, centering around three Mexican men in their late seventies, who play guitar and sing romantic ballads in the manner of the legendary Trio Los Panchos.  For her outreach, Ms. Lopez will connect with other women playwrights, playwrights of color and young Latina girls who want to become theatre artists. 

Ellen Maddow will be in residence at the strong>Talking Band (New York, NY) to develop her play whose theme, characters and story will evolve out of a visual and physical environment created by her collaborator and designer, Anna Kiraly. Ms. Maddow will also conduct workshops with young immigrant groups in the area by bringing elements of the set to a community center, church, or other location. Participants will write in response to the physical environment.

Ellen McLaughlin will be in residence at American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, MA) where she will write a play about the grunt soldier’s experience, using contemporary accounts and sections from World War I material, as well as conducting interviews with local veterans of current and past wars.

Will Power will be in residence at McCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ).  His play, Fetch Clay, Make Man, will explore the relationship between Cassius Clay and Stephin Fetchit (aka Lincoln Perry), two seemingly incompatible icons.  Mr. Power will also be a part of McCarter’s Youth Ink! program, developing ten-minute plays with high school students.

Laura Schellhardt will write The Chair, a full-length exploration of the invention of the electric chair – from inception of the idea to the first state certified electrocution.  Ms. Schellhardt will be in residence at Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI) and will also participate as an artist-in-residence at one of Trinity Repertory’s partner schools, conducting a creative writing workshop. 

Betty Shamieh will be in residence at Magic Theatre (San Francisco, CA) where her play Territories will receive its world premiere production.  She will also develop a new play, the story of an encounter between an Arab-American FBI agent and a female Arab-American physics student who is accused of terrorism.  Ms. Shamieh will also work with the Dialogue Project, an organization dedicated to furthering dialogue between Jews, Palestinians and supportive others.

C. Denby Swanson will develop Blue Monday, based on the life of the late Clifford Antone, a fascinating figure in the Austin, Texas music scene.  Ms. Swanson will be in residence at Zachary Scott Theatre Center (Austin, TX) where she will also lead an extended writing workshop with student writers from ZACH’s Performing Arts School, writers and dramaturges from Austin Script Works and musicians from the Austin Music Foundation. 


The National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a public agency dedicated to supporting the excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.


With additional support from The Ford Foundation.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has been a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its goals of strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia.

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