Three Playwrights Selected for 2012-13 Van Lier Playwriting Fellowships

February 10, 2012

Charise Castro Smith, Brian Otaño, and Jackie Sibblies Drury have each won a Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship at New Dramatists. The three writers will spend 18 months at New Dramatists developing their work and working closely with mentor playwrights. The Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship Program, made possible by a grant from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust, was established to help young, economically disadvantaged playwrights living in New York City who are U.S. citizens from minority populations (e.g. Asian American, African American, Native American, Arab American, Latino, etc.) to develop their talent and become involved in the professional theatre community. Each Fellow receives a $10,000 cash award ($5,000 a year) in addition to full access to the resources of New Dramatists; including free copying, readings, a profile page on the newly designed New Dramatists website, the use of the building as a place to work and conduct meetings, and a vibrant community of diverse playwrights. Past Van Lier Fellows include Robert O’Hara, Carmen Rivera, and Steven Sapp; New Dramatists alumni Diana Son, Lynn Nottage, Alejandro Morales, Sung Rno, Eisa Davis, Zakiyyah Alexander, and current New Dramatists member playwrights Kristoffer Diaz, Qui Nguyen, and Betty Shamieh.

Charise Castro Smith is a playwright and actress from Miami, FL. Playwriting credits include: Estrella Cruz [The Junkyard Queen] (Ars Nova ANT Fest/ Yale Cabaret), Wolves (Jimmy’s 43), a reading of The Hunchback of Seville (Studio 42) and the World Premier of Boomcracklefly (The Miracle Theater Portland, OR). Acting credits include Jane Says (The Public Theater: New Work Now!), The Lincoln Center Director's Lab (LCT), Chain of Fools (The Guthrie Theater), The Art of Preservation (The Flea Theater), The Germ Project (New Georges/ 3LD Arts and Technology Center), The Voices in my Head (Ars Nova), The Good Wife (CBS) and Body of Proof (ABC). She has contributed to the Brooklyn Rail and is a member of New George’s The JAM for emerging playwrights and directors. MFA: Yale School of Drama.

Brian Otaño grew up in Brooklyn, NY. His full-length plays include Mister Blue, Lucky, Temptation Waits, Adhesive and What We Told The Neighbors, which was developed with the The Glass Bandits Theatre Company. Brian has had numerous short plays performed at Manhattan Theatre Source, Cakeshop and Theatre 3. Alongside Gary Garrison, Brian co-produced Manhattan Theatre Source’s annual LGBT festival, Homogenius. At MTS, he also assistant directed the New York premiere of Keith Reddin’s All The Rage. Brian was an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where he was honored with a residency under the guidance of ACA Master Playwright Annie Baker. Merry Christmas, Eve (a film co-written with Alyssa Codamon), was screened as part of NewFilmmakers series at Anthology Film Archives. Brian studied acting at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts before attending SUNY Purchase College’s Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film, where he earned his BFA in Dramatic Writing in 2011. Brian is a proud member of Local USA 829 and a Van Lier Fellow at New Dramatists.

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her Edgerton New Play Award winning play, We Are Proud to Present a Presentation was recently presented at PRELUDE.11, and will have its world premiere at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater this spring. Her work has been featured at Victory Gardens’ 2010 Ignition Festival, The Magic Theatre, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She is a graduate of Brown’s MFA playwriting program, where she received a Weston Award as well as the David Wickham Prize in Playwriting. Jackie is a member of the 2011-12 Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a 2010-12 New York Theater Workshop playwriting fellow, a member of The Civilians’ R&D group, and The Lark's Playground group. Jackie is a MacDowell colony fellow, and a committee member of The Public School New York.

First year current resident playwright, Kristoffer Diaz, will act as the Van Lier Fellowship Coordinator through the 18 months of the program. His plays include The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Welcome to Arroyo’s, Guernica, and #therevolution. Awards: 2011 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award; finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; winner, 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play; winner, 2011 OBIE Award, Best New American Play; and the inaugural Gail Merrifield Papp Fellowship from The Public Theater (2011). His work has been produced, commissioned, and developed at The Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Geffen Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, The Goodman, Second Stage, Victory Gardens, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Hip-Hop Theater Festival, Donmar Warehouse, and South Coast Repertory, among others. Kristoffer holds a BA from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, an MFA from NYU’s Department of Dramatic Writing, and an MFA from Brooklyn College’s Performing Arts Management program.

The Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship Program is made possible by a grant from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust.