Big news from our Artistic Director

2016 Announcement  Nº 1: Civic Playwrights Residency

Over the course of the next few months, the Civic Ensemble team will be making several announcements of new and innovative programming and partnerships for 2016. The first is Civic Ensemble’s creation of the Civic Playwrights Residency.


Friends of Civic Ensemble, near and far:

I know it may be obvious why Civic Ensemble is important to me, as I am Artistic Director. However, we are about to embark on an exciting endeavor in the next year and I want to share it with you — it may be the reason you are looking for to support an organization as 2015 winds down.

One of the core impulses behind starting Civic Ensemble revolvedOutrageousFortune around the lack of opportunities for playwrights to see their work produced. Through conversations with dozens of our finest playwrights, as well as reading TDF‘s trailblazing study of new play development in the U.S., Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, we found that playwrights needed three things: a yearly salary, to be a core part of a theater’s community, and productions.

We are a three-year-old company, so we had to take stock of what we could afford to work toward. We know we can’t afford a yearly salary for anyone right now, but we can make playwrights a larger part of our community and we can produce their plays without putting them through development hell. So in 2016, we will launch the Civic Playwrights Residency.

Civic will appoint 3 playwrights to an 18-month residency in which each playwright will write a socially-relevant play that Civic will produce. These playwrights will meet as a cohort 3-4 times over the course of their residency to provide support for each other, hear each other’s work, and help design the other activities of the residency. These playwrights will also be actively engaged in one of our signature community development – we call them Civic Engagement – programs, such as the Living Newspaper, the Community-Based Play, or the ReEntry Theatre Program.

Pictured below are some of our 2015 Civic Engagement projects. Playwright cohorts will collaborate on these programs while working on their own scripts. Left to right: Home (Living Newspaper), A Setback Ain’t Nothing but a Setup for a Comeback (ReEntry), On The Corner (Community-Based Play). Photos by Durst Breneiser, Jennifer Herzog, Samantha Mason.

More details are coming in the next year, including the playwrights that will make up the first two cohorts, but it’s really that simple. We don’t want to just commission or develop the next great issue-driven play, we want to PRODUCE it.

So please think about donating to Civic Ensemble in support of the Civic Playwrights Residency, as well as our other innovative programs. Help us make Civic a place where playwrights feel at home. Support this and many more initiatives today.


Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr.
Artistic Director, Civic Ensemble