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Thanks to New Grant, DTC Has a Playwright-in-Residence

by Jerome Weeks 7 Jan 2013 9:38 AM

And that playwright is Will Power, the hip-hop-theater artist who also won a Meadows Prize and currently teaches at SMU.


Fourteen playwrights across the country — including Will Power at the Dallas Theater Center — will become playwrights-in-residence. They will essentially become staff members at different stage companies for a three-year term.

The entire effort has been funded by $3.7 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The heart of the initiative is Emerson College’s  Center for the Theater Commons — as a way to stem the artistic ‘brain drain’ from American theaters.

The Boston Globe reports:

The center will receive a $760,000 grant, of which more than half will be distributed to the playwrights for travel and research expenses, according to the center’s director, Polly Carl. The rest will fund a project to hire freelancers who will closely track the residencies to see how well they are working and what difference they are making for the playwrights, the individual theaters and the communities where they are located, as well as, potentially, the American theater in general.

Each of the playwrights will also have a residency at Emerson College that will last one or two weeks, Carl said. The center will organize regular retreats where playwrights and artistic directors will discuss the long-term residencies — information that the center will communicate to theaters nationwide.

The overall goal of the initiative, said Carl, is to engender “a rethinking of the role of the playwright in nonprofit theater,’’ with an eye toward finding ways to stem “the huge brain drain in the theater, of theater people migrating to Hollywood because you can make a living writing for television and the movies in a way you can’t in the theater.’’ Noting that “the number of actual artists on staff in theaters compared to marketers and developers is a minuscule percentage,’’ Carl said that the initiative will enable playwrights “to contribute as an artistic voice’’ within theaters.

Will Power, the hip-hop theater artist, won a Meadows Prize in 2009, which brought him to North Texas. He’s currently teaching as an artist-in-residence at SMU and is developing a musical project, Staggerlee, with the DTC.

The full release follows:


Will Power Announced As Dallas Theater Center’s New Playwright in Residence
Funded by The Mellon Foundation

DALLAS (January 7, 2013) –Dallas Theater Center announced today that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded it a grant to support a three-year playwright residency.  Award-winning playwright and 2010 Meadows Prize recipient Will Power will be DTC’s new playwright in residence.

“This grant from The Mellon Foundation will further DTC’s commitment to foster long-term relationships with playwrights, connect them with the community at large, and support the development of new plays and musicals for the American theater,” said DTC’s artistic director Kevin Moriarty.  “Will is a writer, teacher and performer with a gift for creating work that bridges social divides and cultures.  He has developed a close relationship with the artistic staff and shares DTC’s core vision and values.  Will’s insight and talent will be an invaluable asset to DTC’s artistic staff.”


As DTC’s playwright-in-residence, Power will be a full-time member of DTC’s artistic staff and will contribute greatly to DTC’s artistic policy.  His primary focus will be writing, but he will also spend a considerable amount of time teaching and developing new works.  In addition, Power will work with Moriarty on a new strategic initiative to reach out to two under-represented neighborhoods in Dallas, one affluent and one made up of low income households, and help DTC to forge relationships that will welcome audiences from both neighborhoods into the theater.


“When Kevin approached me to join the staff of DTC as a full-time, three-year resident playwright, and described his vision for my involvement as a member of his artistic team, I saw the chance for an artistic home,” says Power.  “This position offers me the opportunity to focus beyond one project and have a longer trajectory with DTC.  As a member of DTC’s artistic team, I will join a staff of actors, directors and educators toreview plays, critique performances, plan seasons and design programs. That is an opportunity that playwrights rarely have and I can see how it will be transformational to me as an artist and a playwright.”


Power will be the first of several playwrights to fulfill multi-year residencies at DTC.  Beginning with Power, DTC will add a new playwright every one and a half years, creating a rotation that allows playwrights to work together and support each other’s work.




One of the leading regional theaters in the country, Dallas Theater Center (DTC) performs to an audience of more than 115,000 North Texas residents annually. Founded in 1959, DTC is now a resident company of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and presents its Mainstage season at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, designed by REX/OMA, Joshua Prince-Ramus and Rem Koolhaas and at its original home, the Kalita Humphreys Theater, the only freestanding theater designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty and Managing Director Heather M. Kitchen, DTC produces a seven-play subscription series of classics, musicals and new plays and an annual production of A Christmas Carol; extensive education programs, including Project Discovery, SummerStage and partnerships with Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; and community outreach efforts including leading the DFW Foote Festival and recent collaborations with the Dallas Public Library, Dallas Holocaust Museum, North Texas Food Bank, Dallas Opera, and Dallas Black Dance Theater.  Throughout its history, DTC has produced many new works, including The Texas Trilogy by Preston Jones in 1978, Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men (directed by Adrian Hall) in 1986, and recent premieres of Giant by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson, The Trinity River Plays by Regina Taylor, the revised It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, Give It Up! (now titled Lysistrata Jones and recently on Broadway) by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn, Sarah, Plain and Tall by Julia Jordan, Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson.


Dallas Theater Center gratefully acknowledges the support of our season sponsors: American Airlines; City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs;The Dallas Morning News; Haynes and Boone, LLP; Lexus; Texas Instruments and WFAA.



The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation currently makes grants in five core program areas, including the performing arts.  Within each of its core programs, the Foundation concentrates most of its grant making in a few areas. Institutions and programs receiving support are often leaders in fields of Foundation activity, but they may also be promising newcomers, or in a position to demonstrate new ways of overcoming obstacles to achieve program goals.


Its grant making philosophy is to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects. As such, it develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.




Will Power is an award-winning playwright and performer.  He received the prestigious USA Prudential Fellowship, the first annual TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Lucille Lortel Award (Best Musical), a Joyce Award, a NYFA Fellowship, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performanceat the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival, and a 2004 Drama Desk nomination.His recent plays include Fetch Clay, Make Man (McCarter Theatre, Directed by Des McAnuff), and Five Fingers of Funk (Children’s Theatre Company, Directed by Derrick Sanders). His adaptation of the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes, re-titled The Seven, completed a successful Off-Broadway run at the New York Theater Workshop, and made its west coast premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse. His solo show Flowalso received national acclaim.