Commissions will launch PlayMakers’ @PLAY new works development program, which focuses on adding more women’s voices and experiences to the American theater.
PlayMakers Repertory Company announces new play commissions by two important, transformational voices of the American theater, Bekah Brunstetter and Charly Evon Simpson. Their commissions mark the official launch of the theater’s @PLAY new works development program, with its focus on supporting women playwrights and spotlighting stories by and about women of a diverse range of identities.
Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake was a PlayMakers audience favorite in 2017. She is currently collaborating with recording artist Ingrid Michaelson on a musical adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, among many other theater and television projects. Charly Evon Simpson debuted Jump, an audience and critical standout at PlayMakers in 2019, and, along with several projects for the stage, recently signed on as consulting producer for HBO’s Industry and is a member of the writing team for the second season of the network’s Perry Mason.
“Producing new work and developing relationships with the brave, thoughtful writers who are making their mark on the American Theatre today is a true labor of love. In the past five seasons, we have premiered 10 new plays, several of which have gone on to great success across the country,” said Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ producing artistic director. “@PLAY has grown out of this effort, as well as our company’s commitment to diverse representation and equity in our corner of American Theatre and beyond. Women’s stories are complex and vibrant but plays written by women and from an intersectional point of view still struggle to get produced. @PLAY was created to help change that, and reflect the incredible breadth, depth and influence of women’s voices in the 2020s. Bekah and Charly are brilliant playwrights, and I can’t wait for our company, the UNC-Chapel Hill community, and our audiences to be in conversation with these dynamic women and their work over the next few years.”
“UNC-Chapel Hill is where I found my voice as a playwright, where I started to believe in myself as a writer,” said Brunstetter. “Seeing plays at PlayMakers during my undergrad years was a huge inspiration. It truly feels like a homecoming to write a play for PlayMakers, and I can’t wait to spend some time in Chapel Hill, relive some memories and eat all of the food. I’m especially excited to collaborate with Vivienne, who had the very smart idea to ask me what might happen if I adapted Lysistrata. I’m so excited to explore gender, marriage, femininity and masculinity through a contemporary lens, with some humor, heart and video games (there’s your one hint).”
“My favorite thing about writing a new play is that it is an opportunity to create and share a new world,” said Simpson. “I love when a new work can bring people together and through its creation and production, allow the opportunity for new and different connections. I love facilitating that by creating the story that a company then dreams into reality on stage. I’m looking forward to working with the Company at PlayMakers, and hope that by consciously exploring the new, we find that common ground that live theatre is so good at creating.”
@PLAY is funded in part by the PlayMakers New Commissions Fund. These commissions will be written, workshopped and produced at PlayMakers Repertory Company over the next few years, and the playwrights will also participate in a variety of community and campus events at UNC-Chapel Hill.
For more information about @PLAY, visit www.playmakersrep.org/atplay.