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Williamstown Theatre Festival Announces New Play and New Musical Commissioning Programs

O&M Co.

Rick Miramontez / Molly Barnett / Alexandra Kirshner


rick@oandmco.com / molly@oandmco.com /alexandra@oandmco.com









Williamstown, MA (March 26, 2015) –Williamstown Theatre Festival Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield has announced a New Play Commissioning Program and New Musical Commissioning Program, through which the Festival will commission and develop three to five projects annually from playwrights, composers and collaborative devisers from across the career spectrum.  The program launches with inaugural artists Fernanda Coppel (whose new play King Liz premieres this summer at Second Stage), Halley Feiffer (I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard, which just finished an acclaimed run at the Atlantic Theater Company), and Benjamin Scheuer (creator of the current Off Broadway hit The Lion).  Each commission also includes a writing residency at Williamstown Theatre Festival. 

“For years, Williamstown Theatre Festival has led the industry in identifying, supporting and growing the finest emerging and mid-career actors and directors through programs such as its renowned Apprentice Program, for actors, and its Sagal and Foeller Fellowship Programs, for directors,” Greenfield said. “I am proud to see those programs continue to thrive and I am thrilled to launch the New Play and New Musical Commissioning Programs so that we may officially add living writers, from across the career spectrum, to the universe of theatre artists this Festival serves and celebrates in meaningful and comprehensive ways.”

Coppel and Feiffer will be part of the 2015 New Play Commissioning Program, which is made possible by generous support of the L. Arnold Weissberger Foundation and Mr. Andrew Martin-Weber.  The 2015 New Musical Commissioning Program will be inaugurated by Stacey Mindich Productions for the commission of a new work by ASCAP Award-winning artist Benjamin Scheuer.

About the Artists 

Fernanda Coppel is a playwright and screenwriter. Her play King Liz will premiere this summer at Second Stage Theatre. Her play Chimichangas and Zoloft premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2012 and was published by Samuel French. Her work has been developed at New York Theatre Workshop, Pregones Theater, INTAR Theatre, The Juilliard School, The Lark Development Center, the Flea, the Old Vic (London), Naked Angels, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and the Sundance Institute. Fernanda is a member of the MCC Playwrights' Coalition and was a member of the Old Vic's US/UK TS Eliot Exchange Program. Her work has won the Asuncion Queer Latino Festival at Pregones Theater, the 2012 HOLA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Playwriting, and the 2012 Helen Merrill Award. She was a three-year Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School and received her MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University. Fernanda's television credits include “The Bridge” on FX and “Kingdom” on DIRECTV.

Halley Feiffer is an actress and writer. Full-length plays include I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard (The Atlantic Theater Company, directed by Trip Cullman), How To Make Friends and then Kill Them (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, directed by Kip Fagan), Sidney and LauraA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, and Valerie Sweet. Her plays have been developed by Second Stage Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, LAByrinth Theater Company, the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and elsewhere. She is currently working on commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, MTC/Sloan, and Jen Hoguet Productions. She co-wrote and starred in the 2013 film He’s Way More Famous Than You and the upcoming webseries “What’s Your Emergency,” both directed by Michael Urie. She won the Theatre World Award for her performance in the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves and was recently seen in the revival of Jon Robin Baitz’ The Substance of Fire at Second Stage, directed by Trip Cullman. She currently writes for the upcoming Starz series “The One Percent.”

Benjamin Scheuer is the recipient of the 2013 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award for songwriting, and the 2013 Musical Theatre Network Award for Best Lyrics. He is the writer/performer of the one-man musical The Lion (developed and produced by Mandy Greenfield for Manhattan Theatre Club and currently enjoying a commercial Off-Broadway run at the Culture Project). The show premiered in June 2014 and was called “the best new musical this year” by the Huffington Post. The animated music video for Scheuer’s song “The Lion” has won prizes at the Annecy Film Festival, The Crystal Palace Festival, and the British Animation Awards. With photographer Riya Lerner, Scheuer is co-creator of the book Between Two Spaces. Scheuer has been a writer-in-residence at the Goodspeed Theatre and the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Workshop, and is the curator of the Cornelia Street Cafe Songwriter Series in New York. He records and performs with his band Escapist Papers, whose second album The Bridge (produced by Geoff Kraly) was released in 2014, and features music from The Lion. Scheuer lives in New York City.

About Williamstown Theatre Festival 

Every summer since 1955, the Festival has brought America’s finest actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to the Berkshires to produce unique experiences for artists and audiences alike. The Festival creates bold, innovative theatre, hosts dynamic development opportunities for new plays and musicals, and offers a rich array of accompanying cultural events such as Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, Comedy, and One-Night Concerts.  With offices in both Williamstown and New York City, WTF creates vibrant work that feeds the wider theatrical landscape. The artists and productions shaped at the Festival each summer often go on to reach diverse audiences nationally and internationally. The Festival is currently represented by The Elephant Man, Living on Love, and The Visit on Broadway this season and Fool for Love next season, as well as Here Lies Love in London. WTF is also home to one of the nation’s top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theatre artists and administrators. The Festival is a recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre and the Massachusetts Commonwealth Award for Achievement.