Saturday, December 08, 2007

What We Need is Young Blood

Or Youngblood, as the text of this press release I received yesterday will tell you.


Playwrights Lucy Alibar, Jesse Cameron Alick, Robert Askins and Steven Levenson are the newest members of Youngblood, Ensemble Studio Theatre's collective of emerging professional playwrights. Youngblood serves as the creative home for the next generation of theatre artists, providing peer support, artistic guidance, and a fertile production environment. Through year-round programs including their signature Mainstage production THICKER THAN WATER (recently published by Dramatists Play Service) and the acclaimed monthly YOUNGBLOOD SUNDAY BRUNCH series, Youngbood provides new writers with exposure to the public, the press, and the industry. The new additions bring the current Youngblood membership to 16, including such rising artists as Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, and Michael Lew.

"Youngblood is a challenging, fun, vibrant group, a great way to develop new writers," said EST Artistic Director William Carden. "Their continued growth is an important part of EST's artistic life."

The four new members were selected from over one hundred applications from playwrights across the city. After reading all the submitted scripts, Youngblood Artistic Directors Graeme Gillis and RJ Tolan interviewed 20 finalists before making final selections.

"We're always looking for the most individual voices," said Tolan. "Narrowing down such a great talent pool is always a brutal process, but eventually some folks just stick in your mind. It's the ones we keep thinking about that usually end up in the group."

"We want the Youngblood writers to have a diverse collection of backgrounds, different ways of seeing the world," added Gillis. "Each of the new members bring that to the table."

Lucy Alibar's plays include Juicy & Delicious (The Tank, Collective Unconscious); A Friend of Dorothy (Best of Montreal Fringe nomination, Avignon, Bath, and Edinburgh Festivals); Gorgeous Raptors (Young Playwrights Festival, Cherry Lane Theatre), and Home Baking Made Easy (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Lucy is an Affiliated Artist of New Georges, SLAM Theatre and SLANT Theatre Project. She was selected by The Dramatist Magazine as one of their 50 Playwrights to Watch in 2007.

Jesse Cameron Alick works as the Artistic Director for Subjective Theatre Company as Associate Producer for Smokin Word Productions and as Assistant to the Artistic Director at the Public Theater. His work has been heard at locations that include Cherry Lane Theater (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), Asian American Writers Workshop (co-produced by New York Theater Workshop), Collective Unconscious, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Museum of the City of New York (produced by Harlem Arts Alliance), CSV, Blue Heron, Bowery Poetry Club, The Poetry Café (UK) and Hip Heaven (UK).

Rob Askins is a playwright and actor from Houston, Texas. He has won awards for his playwriting in Texas, was published in North Carolina and has been produced in New York City. Rob has received commissions from the E.S.T./Sloan project and DiverCity Theatre as well as a visiting artist grant from Baylor University. This past summer Robert traveled to Prague where one of his pieces was performed on the Scenofest Stage at the Prague Quadrennial.

Steven Levenson's plays include Airless, The Play Room, and The Desert of Final Cities. His original musical Torah! Torah! Torah! was produced this past summer at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre. His play The Language of Trees has been read and developed by New Dramatists, Ashland New Plays Festival, Temporary Theatre Company, and Sum of Us Theatre Company. Steven is a graduate of Brown University.

In the past year there have been over a dozen major productions of current Youngblood playwrights across New York City and throughout the United States at such theatres as New Georges, Naked Angels, Yale Rep, and Ma-Yi Theatre. Recent productions by Youngblood alumni have included Lincoln Center, the Atlantic Theater Company, 13p, the Royal Court Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Mark Taper Forum. Since its inception in 1993, Youngblood has fostered over one hundred working playwrights including Zakiyyah Alexander, John Belluso, Amy Fox, Ann Marie Healy, Elizabeth Meriwether, Qui Nguyen, Christopher Shinn, Lloyd Suh, and Lucy Thurber.

Founded by Curt Dempster in 1971, Ensemble Studio Theatre (William Carden, Artistic Director; Paul Slee, Executive Director) is the premier developmental theatre in the United States, fostering the creation of thousands of new American plays. Its membership comprises the largest standing company of theatrical artists in the country, with 500 playwrights, directors, actors, and designers, including Pulitzer, Tony, and Academy Award winners.

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