MCC THEATER NAMES JOCELYN BIOH BURNT UMBER PLAYWRIGHT-IN-RESIDENCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
BURNT UMBER PLAYWRIGHT-IN-RESIDENCE
New York, NY (May 15, 2019) – MCC Theater (Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey, Will Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director) announced today the appointment of Jocelyn Bioh as the theater’s Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence for a three-year term through the 2022 Season.
The goal of the residency is to give a playwright a multi-year home base where they are an integral part of the theater’s institutional culture and to provide resources and space to develop new work for production.
MCC is launching the new residency program with the support of Burnt Umber Productions, headed by Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber, which is committed to recognizing and producing bold new voices in the theater.
The residency provides developmental and dramaturgical support for new projects, workspace and access to rehearsal studio space in MCC Theater’s new two-theater complex, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, as well as resources for readings and workshops and other resources throughout the term. As Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence, Bioh will also participate in an annual session with MCC Theater’s Youth Company Playwriting Lab, part of the theater’s free after-school program for New York City high school students.
MCC Theater was introduced to Jocelyn Bioh in March 2016 through her play School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play which was then being read as part of The New Black Fest at The Lark, just three months before it was placed on the 2016 Kilroys List of most recommended un- and under-produced new plays by women, trans and non-binary writers of color. MCC subsequently engaged Jocelyn in an ongoing process involving internal and public readings, which resulted in the company bringing her in-house for a one-year residency through The Tow Foundation in 2017. During that time, MCC gave School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play its world premiere production during their 2017-18 season, where it received three 2018 Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Play, a 2018 Drama Desk Special Award for Ensemble, and the 2018 Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award presented to Jocelyn Bioh. This production was followed by a co-production at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, and an encore run in MCC’s 2018-19 season, which was filmed for WNET “Theater Upclose” for future broadcast. It has since been produced extensively around the country.
Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber said of their support, “The choice of Jocelyn Bioh for this residency was a natural choice for Burnt Umber. Jocelyn’s debut play, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, continues to make a lasting impression on the American Theater with the numerous productions that have been mounted since its world premiere at MCC Theater in 2017. We are thrilled to partner with MCC and honored to support Jocelyn’s talent and artistry as Playwright-in-Residence at the theater.”
Will Cantler, Co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater, echoed the acclaim, “Judi and Bill’s support for MCC’s partnership with Jocelyn is visionary, and a perfect reflection of the taste they bring to all their producing efforts. Bernie, Bob, and I and the entire MCC team are delighted to extend and deepen our partnership with Jocelyn—she’s a tremendous artist, a deeply supportive resource to her peers and to our Youth Company, and we are excited about our projects yet to come.”
Of her selection Jocelyn Bioh said, “I am very excited about being named the Burnt Umber Playwright-in-Residence at MCC. As a writer who strived to find a theatrical home that would be engaged and supportive of my work, I’m thrilled to find that partnership with MCC Theater, Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber. To have the support in both development and production is necessary for any writer and I can’t wait to continue my incredible journey created with MCC.”
Blake West, Executive Director of MCC Theater, said, “We’re thrilled to embark on this new program with Judi and Bill and Jocelyn. We built our new home, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, as a place where artists could work and play and take audiences on really exciting adventures. The Burnt Umber residency is one of many new development programs we’re launching that will have an undeniable impact on the theater in New York and beyond. Jocelyn’s is a wholly original voice and we’re thrilled to have her with us in this new role and working on many more projects together.”
MCC Theater recently announced that Jocelyn Bioh’s world premiere production of Nollywood Dreams, directed by Saheem Ali, will debut in their 2019-2020 season at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, with performances beginning in the Newman Mills Theater on March 19, 2020.
ABOUT JOCELYN BIOH
Jocelyn Bioh is a 1st generation Ghanaian-American writer/performer from New York City. She has her B.A. in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre-Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts. Jocelyn is a commissioned playwright with Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage Theatre, Williamstown Theatre and the Atlantic Theater Company and was a former Resident Playwright at Lincoln Center. Her plays include: the multi-award winning School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play which had two celebrated runs at MCC Theater in New York City and will be produced at 11 regional theatres all over the country in 2019 and 2020. Nollywood Dreams (Upcoming: MCC Theater 2020, Kilroy’s List 2015,) as well the new musical GODDESS of which she is the book writer. As a TV writer, Jocelyn has worked on “Russian Doll” (Netflix 2019) as well as being a staff writer on Season 2 of Spike Lee’s acclaimed series “She’s Gotta Have It” (May 2019). As an actress, Jocelyn’s stage credits include: In The Blood (Drama Desk Nomination), Everybody (Signature Theatre, Lucille Lortel nomination), Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Broadway; Tony Award Winner for Best Play, 2015), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, Obie Award Winner for Best Play, 2014), Booty Candy (Wilma Theater), Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem, Audelco Award Nominee), and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (City Theatre). She also originated the role of “Topsy” in the world premiere of Neighbors (The Public Theater, Audelco Award Nominee). TV: Former Cover Girl spokesmodel, “Russian Doll” (Netflix) “Crashing” (HBO), “Blue Bloods” (CBS), “The Detour” (TBS), “The Characters” (Netflix), “Louie” (FX), and “One Life to Live” (ABC). Jocelyn was most recently staffed on season two of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” for Netflix and wrote an episode of the Netflix show “Russian Doll.”
ABOUT BURNT UMBER
Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber are committed to recognizing and producing bold new voices in the theater. Together, they have over a decade of bringing new works and revivals to the stage in New York and London’s West End as Burnt Umber Productions. Recent Broadway credits include The Ferryman, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song, Groundhog Day, On Your Feet!, Cats, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, American Idiot. This fall they will help bring Jagged Little Pill to Broadway.
ABOUT MCC THEATER
MCC Theater is one of New York’s leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater’s programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey, and Will Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.
MCC Theater’s celebrated productions include Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play; Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike; Robert Askins’ Hand to God (Broadway transfer; five 2015 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play); John Pollono’s Small Engine Repair; Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really; Sharr White’s The Other Place (Broadway transfer); Jeff Talbott’s The Submission (Laurents/Hatcher Award); Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Happy, reasons to be pretty (Broadway transfer, three 2009 Tony Award® nominations, including Best Play), Some Girl(s), Fat Pig, The Mercy Seat, and All The Ways To Say I Love You; Michael Weller’s Fifty Words; Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride; Bryony Lavery’s Frozen (Broadway transfer; four 2004 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play, Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor); Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone; Rebecca Gilman’s The Glory of Living (2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Margaret Edson’s Wit (1999 Pulitzer Prize); and the musicals Coraline, Carrie, Ride the Cyclone, and Alice By Heart. Many plays developed and produced by MCC have gone on to productions throughout the country and around the world.
Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC opened the doors to its new home in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, in January 2019, unifying the company’s activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming.
ABOUT THE MCC THEATER YOUTH COMPANY
Eighteen years ago, MCC Theater initiated a series of intensive in-school and after-school education programs that now serve approximately 800 New York City public high school students each year. At the core of all MCC education programs, be they in school, after school, or in the office, is this: MCC programs for teens and young adults foster the desire to be heard and the courage to speak out. The goal of this work is to showcase and celebrate the mosaic of New York City’s young people, creating a platform for their voices to be heard and their experiences and individual identities to be honored. MCC’s programs build the skills, and provide the encouragement, to make this possible.
The centerpiece of the institution’s education programs is the MCC Theater Youth Company, the first free, after-school company of its kind associated with a professional theater in NYC. The Youth Company has several cohorts, including a Performance Lab, a Playwriting Lab, an Ambassador Leadership program, and a school campus-based satellite program on the campus of the High School for Public Service in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
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