The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a grant to the ALLIANCE THEATRE to create a three-year Playwright In Residence staff position. Designed to advance the role of playwrights in American theatre, the goals of the residencies include providing playwrights with space, time and resources; and positively influencing the working environment of theatres by embedding playwrights on their staffs.
Theatres were invited to apply for the grant with a specific playwright in mind, and fourteen recipients were chosen in consultation with a panel of leading artists and practitioners. The grant provides three years of salary, benefits, and a flexible research and development fund for an American playwright at each selected theater. This initiative by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has grown out of a longstanding commitment, across disciplines, to provide institutional support to generative artists, and to improve both developmental processes and prospects for the continued life of new works.
Selected for its commitment to supporting playwrights and new play development, the ALLIANCE THEATRE's chosen playwright is long-time collaborator Pearl Cleage. While Cleage has previously worked with the ALLIANCE THEATRE as Artist-In-Dialogue, this new position places her on staff at the Alliance and puts more emphasis on her playwriting. In addition to her writing, Cleage will be involved in audience engagement, season planning, mentoring young playwrights who participate in the Alliance's National Graduate Playwriting Competition, advising the Alliance's High School Collision Project, teaching advanced playwriting workshops, and serving as an artistic liaison to the Alliance's business leaders.
Plays by Cleage include the critically praised works What I Learned in Paris (which opened the ALLIANCE THEATRE's 2012/13 season), The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years, Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Flyin' West - all of which premiered at the Alliance. Her novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was an Oprah Book Club selection and appeared on the New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks.
Founded in 1968, the ALLIANCE THEATRE has become the lead producing theatre in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people on two stages. The Alliance values excellence, pursued with integrity and creativity, and achieved through collaboration. Reaching more than 200,000 patrons annually, the Alliance delivers powerful programming that challenges adult and youth audiences to think critically and care deeply. Under the leadership of Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, the ALLIANCE THEATRE received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in recognition of sustained excellence in programming, education and community engagement.
Known for its high artistic standards and national role in creating significant theatrical works, the Alliance has premiered more than 70 original productions including Tony Award winners "The Color Purple," by Alice Walker, "Aida," by Elton John and Tim Rice, and Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." The Alliance has a reputation for developing important American musicals with a strong track record of Broadway, touring, and subsequent productions including the world premieres of "Sister Act: The Musical," "Bring It On: The Musical" and Stephen King and John Mellencamp's "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County." The Alliance also creates and nurtures the careers of playwrights through the Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition, producing a premiere for the competition winner as part of the regular season with national networking opportunities for four finalists. The works produced by the Alliance allow locally based artists the chance to create on a nationally watched stage, building and sustaining Atlanta's artistic community.