ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 8, 2022
Actor’s Express has launched a new play commissioning program that focuses on Atlanta-based playwrights. The first writer to receive a full-length commission is Quinn Xavier Hernandez.
Actor’s Express aims to become a home for new play development with the goal to support local Atlanta artists while inviting patrons to experience the development process. For each of the next five years, Actor’s Express will commission one playwright to write a new full-length play. The goal is then to offer each commissioned writer development resources over the course of the following year. This process will include workshops, as well as public and private readings. By the end of the cycle, there will be five completed full length plays.
Artistic Director Freddie Ashley comments, “I believe one of the best ways to support the local playwriting community is to invest directly in it. This is why all of our commission projects will center Atlanta-based writers. Commissioning offers a way to pay writers directly to create new stories and bring them to life. Atlanta’s playwriting community is brimming with talent and new ideas. AE has been expanding our commitment to the local playwriting community for the past several years. “
Development Director Natalie Holly details, “As we strengthen our commitment to inclusive and ethical representation across all layers of our organization, the focus will be on People of the Global Majority, women, and LGBTQIA+ playwrights, and intersectional experiences. Additionally, we will focus on early to mid-career writers.”
AMPLIFY: PODCAST PLAYS BY ACTOR’S EXPRESS
Freddie Ashley continues, “When the pandemic forced us to explore digital platforms to deliver our programming, we discovered that podcasting is a perfect fit for us. It offers us the opportunity to take our work outside of our doors and connect directly with audiences where they are, and in a free format no less. To further deepen this investment in our local writers, we have made the commitment to center Atlanta-based writers and performers in all Amplify podcasts. With the breadth and diversity of the local playwriting scene, we will use the podcast to create and share stories about intersectional experiences that reflect our local and global communities. It is a democratizing storytelling format that reaches both local audiences and brand new listeners everywhere. Since we have listeners literally around the country and the globe, it means that AE and Atlanta artists can engage with people all over the world with homegrown stories from Atlanta’s best and brightest.”
AE has already been in the practice of commissioning playwrights for other projects, notably its recent project Amplify: Podcast Plays from Actor’s Express. For its first installment of Amplify, 2021’s “Crossroads,” AE commissioned writers Natasha Patel, Avery Sharpe, Skye Passmore, Kayla Parker, Quinn Xavier Hernandez and Amina S. McIntyre. Following the success of “Crossroads,” the Express recently launched Season 2 of Amplify with a brand new story called “Tucker’s Cove,” which dropped in late January with new episodes dropping weekly. “Tucker’s Cove” was written by Atlanta writers Kayla Parker and Sofia Palmero. AE will announce a new season of Amplify each year, all to be written by Atlanta writers. These podcasts are available on most major streaming services and are free to the public. Additionally, each podcast episode will include a supplemental “behind the scenes” episode featuring interviews with key artists.
These new initiatives join an existing annual commission for a new play to be performed as a showcase for the theatre’s resident Apprentice Company. For over fifteen years, a different writer has been commissioned to write this play, including playwrights like Steve Yockey, Joshua Harmon, Michael Lew and Amy E. Witting. Moving forward, this annual commission will also be given to a local writer. Playwright Annie Harrison Elliott is currently writing the showcase play for the 2022 Apprentice Company.
Writers will also work with Actor’s Express on supporting writing projects. Projects may include, but are not limited to, writing the intern showcase, writing digital content (like the podcast plays), participating in our play reading series and teaching intern classes. Each of these projects would be paid independently of the commission fee. By creating opportunities in these additional programs, AE hopes to deepen our relationship with each writer, establishing the cohort as an ongoing, integral part of the AE family.
In addition to commission fees, development resources and additional projects, Actor’s Express will offer dedicated space and office resources to the cohort writers. This will not only provide a physical home for the writers but add to the flow of creative energy inside the building at all times.
ABOUT THE NEW PLAY COMMISSIONING PROGRAM
The Commission Project will be led by the AE Artistic Director Freddie Ashley and National New Play Network Producer in Residence Amanda Washington, with support from Managing Director Alex Scollon. Actor’s Express’ first commissioned artist is local playwright Quinn Xavier Hernandez.
Hernandez says, “This process is a huge step for me. I’ve had several small commissions before this (several of which were also through Actor’s Express), but this is the first full-length commission I’ve been asked to write. That alone is an absolutely massive and incredible part of my career already. The fact that I get to write it for a company that has poured so much into me already is just amazing. I recognize as an early career playwright that this is just the start, but oh wow how excited I am to continue writing and growing both with AE and beyond!”
ABOUT ACTOR’S EXPRESS
Since its founding in 1988, Actor’s Express has become the preeminent hub for dynamic, provocative and consistently outstanding theatre in Atlanta, presenting work that sparks personal transformations and catalyzes community conversations. We are committed to enacting Anti-Racist and Anti-Bias principles that create a diverse, inclusive, safe and brave space for artists and audiences. Actor’s Express is located on the westside of Atlanta in the King Plow Arts Center at 887 W. Marietta Street, Suite J-107, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.