The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Huntington Theatre Company $245,000 so that Huntington Playwriting Fellow Melinda Lopez (Sonia Flew, Becoming Cuba) can join the company's full-time staff as playwright-in-residence. The award is one of 14 residenCy Grants at theatre companies around the US announced this month. Lopez will begin her residency on July 1, 2013.
"When the Mellon Foundation invited us to apply for their playwrights-in-residency program last February, I felt immediately that Melinda was the perfect candidate," says Huntington Theatre Company Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "Melinda is a wildly gifted playwright, a passionate theatre champion, and a fundamental part of the Huntington's history. Thanks to this residency, I look forward to Melinda being an essential part of our future."
Lopez has been an vital and celebrated member of the Huntington's artistic community since 2003 when she was named to the first class of Huntington Playwriting Fellows. In 2004, the Huntington inaugurated its newly constructed second home, the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, with a world premiere production of her play Sonia Flew directed by then-Artistic Director Nicholas Martin. Lopez has served as a Huntington Overseer, advocating for support for new play development and education programs, and also on the search committee that selected DuBois as artistic director. The Huntington has nurtured four of Lopez's plays through the Breaking Ground reading series, and recently workshopped her latest play, Becoming Cuba, in its 2012 Summer Workshop. Lopez is also an accomplished actress, having performed in three prior Huntington productions. She is currently performing as Mrs. Gibbs in its current, widely acclaimed production of Our Town, directed by David Cromer.
"I'm so happy to have enjoyed a long, rich relationship with the Huntington," says Lopez. "To be able to work closely with Peter and the entire Huntington community in a new capacity and to be funded so I can write full-time is literally a dream come true."
Lopez's residency at the Huntington will primarily provide her with what she calls, "quiet time; dream-time; writing and more writing time." She will work to ready Becoming Cuba for production, travel to Cuba for research, develop two additional pieces, and begin work on a third. The Huntington will assist with readings, public readings, developmental workshops, and dramaturgical support. Lopez will also work closely with DuBois and the Huntington's artistic staff to develop her skills as a producer and artistic leader.
A resident of Bedford, MA, Lopez received Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards for Best New Play for Sonia Flew, which has subsequently been produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, San Jose Rep, and elsewhere around the country. Her other plays include God Smells Like a Roast Pig (Elliot Norton Best Solo Performance), Midnight Sandwich/Medianoche (Coconut Grove Playhouse), Alexandros (Laguna Playhouse), Gary (Steppenwolf First Look, Boston Playwrights Theatre), Caroline in Jersey (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and Orchids to Octopi (Central Square Theatre). She has also served as a panel member for the NEA and has enjoyed residencies with Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, the Lark Play Development Center, New York Theatre Workshop, and Harvard University. She teaches theatre and performance at Wellesley College and playwriting at Boston University.
The Huntington Theatre Company is a national leader in the development of new work, having produced more than 100 world, American, and New England premieres in its 30-year history. In 2004, it built and opened the first new Boston theatre in 75 years, the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, to serve as a home for its new works initiatives, which include:
· Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) Program: creating a relationship between a local community of writers by providing playwrights with two-year residencies. Fellows receive a modest honorarium, participate in a biweekly writers' collective with artistic staff, and are eligible for readings and support through the Breaking Ground reading series. Huntington productions of plays by Fellows include The Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge, Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond, The Atheist and Brendan by Ronan Noone, Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez, The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Ünel, Shakespeare's Actresses in America by Rebecca Maggor, and Psyched and the upcoming "M" by Ryan Landry.
· Breaking Ground readings: a vital part of the Huntington's commitment to championing local and national playwrights and developing new work for the American theatre. Past Breaking Ground plays that have subsequently been produced at the Huntington and/or at theatres across the country and internationally include The Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge, Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck, The Atheist by Ronan Noone, Voyeurs de Venus by Lydia R. Diamond, Deported/a dream play by Joyce Van Dyke, Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, and Making up the Truth by Jack Hitt.