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Musical Theatre Factory at Playwrights Horizon

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Playwrights Horizons today announced Musical Theatre Factory as the second theater company to join its Resident Company Program. Playwrights is a writer’s theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American Playwrights, composers and lyricists and to the production of their new work. This new residency initiative – launched in 2014 – subsidizes office, rehearsal and performance space for smaller theater companies who share an interest in American writers and who, like Playwrights, demonstrate a commitment to producing new works.

Starting this fall, Musical Theatre Factory (Shakina Nayfack, Artistic Director), a collective for early-career musical theatre makers interested in changing the way new musicals are developed in New York City, will become Playwrights’ second resident company. The mission of the Factory is to develop and present new Musical Theatre Works in a collaborative environment free from the pressures of critical or commercial success. Founded by Nayfack in January 2014, Musical Theatre Factory, a volunteer based organization, has already contributed to the development of over 90 new musicals.

Musical Theatre Factory joins inaugural resident company Clubbed Thumb (Maria Striar, Producing Artistic Director), which provides like-minded theater companies the space and resources to create more art, and expand their capacity to provide artistic opportunities to writers. The current hit Playwrights Horizons and Clubbed Thumb co-production of MEN ON BOATS by Jacklyn Backhaus, directed by Will Davis, is the first public result of the Resident Company Program. The critically-acclaimed production has just opened to rapturous reviews and was extended through August 21.

“As evidenced by our co-production of MEN ON BOATS this summer, our collaboration with Clubbed Thumb as our inaugural resident company has been a productive and happy partnership,” says Adam Greenfield, Associate Artistic Director at Playwrights. “Now, as we look to expand this program, the trailblazers at Musical Theatre Factory are a perfect match. Like Playwrights, they share a commitment to nurturing relevant voices who look to break new artistic ground. As we continue our mission to strengthen New York’s entire new-play landscape, we’re thrilled to find synergy with a company that values inspired and intelligent musical theater writers as much as we do.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Playwrights Horizons and deeply grateful for this incredible opportunity,” adds Shakina Nayfack. “In only two years, Musical Theatre Factory managed to become a creative home for so many remarkable writers, composers, performers and directors. When we lost our original space at the beginning of this year, we didn’t know if the Factory would survive. Now, thanks to this generous residency, MTF will have a home of its own at Playwrights Downtown. We couldn’t be more delighted to share space with Clubbed Thumb and to collaborate with the students, faculty and staff of the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. I’m excited to see what the next three years will yield, not only for the Factory, but for the future of American Musical Theatre.”

Musical Theatre Factory will be in residence through Summer 2019 at Playwrights Horizons’ downtown location, 440 Lafayette Street. That space currently houses the Playwrights Theater School (which is affiliated with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, undergraduate Drama Program) and Playwrights Rehearsal Studios, the company’s space rental operation that provides hundreds of organizations with rehearsal, classroom and performance space. Resident Companies will work closely with the Theater School to engage its students in their work and their new play development processes.

The vision for the Resident Company Program arose from Playwrights Horizons’ desire to expand the reach of support for new playwrights and plays and encourage more productions and wider audiences for new work. Having grown out of the organization’s strategic planning process, the program also seeks to lessen the financial burdens of renting costly rehearsal and performance space in the New York market.

Each residency will last for a period of three years; Clubbed Thumb began its formal residency in Fall 2014, receiving a total of four years in residence, one year longer than subsequent companies, in order to help Playwrights Horizons test and implement the new program. Clubbed Thumb will be in residence through Summer 2018. Musical Theatre Factory will be in residence through Summer 2019. Each summer, an additional resident company will be announced, eventually expanding the program to incorporate three Resident Companies simultaneously.

Playwrights Horizons is dedicated to cultivating the most important American Playwrights, composers and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Under Artistic Director Tim Sanford and Managing Director Leslie Marcus, Playwrights builds upon its diverse and renowned body of work, counting 400 writers among its artistic roster. In addition to its onstage work each season, Playwrights’ singular commitment to nurturing American theater artists guides all of the institution’s multifaceted initiatives: our acclaimed New Works Lab, a robust commissioning program, an innovative curriculum at its Theater School and more. Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including six Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards and 39 Obie Awards. Prior artistic directors include André Bishop and Don Scardino. Robert Moss founded Playwrights Horizons in 1971 and oversaw its first decade, cementing the mission that continues to guide the institution today.

Notable productions include six Pulitzer Prize winners – Annie Baker’s The Flick (2013 Obie Award, 2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (2012 Tony Award, Best Play), Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George – as well as Ms. Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play); Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit (2013 Obie Award, Best New American Play); Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale (2013 Lortel Award, Best Play); Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar (2012 Obie Award); Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime (2015 Pulitzer finalist); Lucas Hnath’s The Christians (2016 Obie Award, 2016 Outer Critics Circle Award, 2015 Kesselring Prize); Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy (two 2015 Obie Awards); Taylor Mac’s Hir; Danai Gurira’s Familiar; Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play; Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss andDead Man’s Cell Phone; Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn; Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal; Amy Herzog’s The Great God Pan andAfter the Revolution; Bathsheba Doran’s Kin; Adam Bock’s A Small Fire; Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I; Melissa James Gibson’s This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie’s Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards); Craig Lucas’s Prayer For My Enemy and Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play); Adam Rapp’s Kindness; Lynn Nottage’sFabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting); Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero; David Greenspan’s She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award); Kirsten Childs’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award); Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s James Joyce’s The Dead (2000 Tony Award, Best Book); Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins; William Finn’s March of the Falsettosand Falsettoland; Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Richard Nelson’sGoodnight Children Everywhere; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Once on This Island; Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire; Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room; A.R. Gurney’s Later Life; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins; and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet.

Currently playing at Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater is the hit Playwrights Horizons and Clubbed Thumb co-production ofMEN ON BOATS by Jacklyn Backhaus, directed by Will Davis (now extended through this Sunday, August 21). Following the special presentation of MEN ON BOATS and 2016/2017 season opener AUBERGINE, the season will continue with A LIFE, the world premiere of a new play by Obie Award winner Adam Bock, directed by two-time Obie Award winner Anne Kauffman (previews begin September 30); RANCHO VIEJO, the world premiere of a new play by Dan LeFranc, directed by three-time Obie Award winner Daniel Aukin andcommissioned by Playwrights Horizons with the support of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust (previews begin November 11); THE LIGHT YEARS, the world premiere of a new play written by Drama Desk Award winner Hannah Bos and Obie Award winner Paul Thureen, directed and developed by Obie Award winner Oliver Butler, made by The Debate Society (previews begin February 17); THE PROFANE, the world premiere of a new play by Zayd Dohrn, directed by Kip Fagan (previews begin March 17) and BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE, the co-world premiere of a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Obie Award winner Kirsten Childs, directed by two-time Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara and commissioned by Playwrights Horizons through the Musicals in Partnership Initiative with funds provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (previews begin May 19). This production will first be staged at Dallas Theatre Center this fall.

Musical Theatre Factory was founded by Artistic Director Shakina Nayfack in January 2014 as a collective for early-career musical theatre makers interested in changing the way new musicals are developed in New York City. The mission of the Factory is to develop and present new Musical Theatre Works in a collaborative environment free from the pressures of critical or commercial success. With a focus on peer-evaluation and process-driven volunteer support, MTF’s assembly line of development programming directly addresses the needs of today’s musical theatre artists and is intended to nurture new work from initial concepts to full drafts and, occasionally, first productions.

In its first two years MTF has assisted in the development of over 90 new musicals with more than 900 volunteers contributing over 16,000 combined hours of service. The organization has partnered with a number of other theatre companies throughout NYC, including Joe’s Pub at The Public Theatre, The People’s Improv Theatre, Poetic Theatre Productions, and Playwrights Horizons, where they will begin a three-year residency this coming fall.

MTF members include some of today’s most exciting composers, lyricists, book writers, directors, choreographers, music directors, dramaturgs, performers, and arts administrators. The organization is overseen by General Mangers Frankie Dailey and Joey Monda, with Creative Producer Aaron Glick serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

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