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IUP Joins National Theatre Conference Initiative to Celebrate American Women Playwrights

To open the 2011–2012 season, Theater-by-the-Grove will produce Pittsburgh playwright Tammy Ryan’s play Lindsay’s Oyster under the direction of Jason Chimonides.

The Department of Theater and Dance at IUP has developed a reputation for developing plays by students and faculty members. Initiating “new works” has become part of every season’s offering in the past few years. So, when invited, it was a natural step to join in the National Theatre Conference’s Initiative to Celebrate American Women Playwrights.

Lindsay’s Oyster examines the female body as battleground, through the experience of a typical American teenage girl. Tammy seeks to develop this one-act into a full-length play, and will be brought to IUP in a residency to develop the play and interact with IUP students. The one-act version is currently in production in Cornell’s S/HE Project. Jason and the entire TBTG company are excited to be able to work with Tammy over the coming months in order to serve the NTC’s call for support of the voices of American women playwrights.

The initiative by the National Theatre Conference states:

“We at the NTC believe there are currently an extraordinary number of playwrights working in America. We recognize, however, that production opportunities are becoming more difficult to find for all playwrights and that women writers especially face even greater challenges in getting produced. Accordingly, we would like to announce a new national initiative, and urge all our members who are affiliated with producing entities, be they professional or non-professional, to join together and pledge that, for the next three years, we will dedicate at least one production slot per year to a contemporary female American playwright.”

Conditions for the initiative are that the production shall be a full production (not a staged reading), ideally with a residency for the playwright, and with features that help the playwright develop her play. It cannot be a play which has had a Broadway production.

The National Theatre Conference, founded in 1925, is a cooperative association of distinguished leaders of the American theater—university, community, and professional. Membership in the conference is by invitation only and is limited to 120. The conference operates as a theatrical “think tank,” and meets annually to review and confer on matters pertaining to the welfare and development of the theater and to honor outstanding achievement of organizations and individuals in the field.

Theater-by-the-Grove is IUP’s theater company, and is the producing arm of her Department of Theater and Dance. In existence since 1988, TBTG has only grown in its commitment to placing theater at the heart of the IUP community.

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