The Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions for MTC, which will support the development of plays that address themes of math, science and technology and that depict scientists, mathematicians and engineers as major characters, aim to bridge the divide between the "two cultures," science and the arts.
The commissioned writers include Jeff Augustin (Little Children Dream of God), Courtney Baron (A Very Common Procedure), Juliana Nash (Murder Ballad), Nell Benjamin (The Explorers Club), Madeline George (The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence), Tom Holloway (And No More Shall We Part), Nathan Jackson (Broke-ology), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon), Greg Pierce (Slowgirl) and Alexandra Wood (The Initiate).
Additionally, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided production support for MTC's production of Sloan commissioned writer Nick Payne's Constellations, which will begin previews on Broadway Dec. 16, prior to an official opening Jan. 13, 2015. Michael Longhurst will direct, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson starring.
Here's how the production is billed: "This mind-bending, romantic journey begins with a simple encounter between a man and a woman. But what happens next defies the boundaries of the world we think we know — delving into the infinite possibilities of their relationship and raising questions about the difference between choice and destiny."
"This round of Sloan commissions has gone to an outstanding group of playwrights who are taking on topics that are full of promise. We look forward with great anticipation to what the yield will be," MTC's director of artistic development Jerry Patch said in a statement. "And we're especially grateful to the Sloan Foundation for its support of those commissions and our production of Constellations." "We are delighted to join with the Manhattan Theatre Club in commissioning original work from these six gifted playwrights as they explore science and technology themes and characters," Doron Weber, Sloan's vice president of programs, added. "Not only are an increasing number of the best and brightest contemporary playwrights willing to explore this rich, underexplored terrain, but this year we are especially proud to support MTC's Broadway production of Constellations, a moving play about the relationship between a beekeeper and a quantum physicist that uses fundamental concepts of the many worlds theory as both a subject and an organizing principle."
In addition to Proof, Sloan supported MTC's production of Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy in 2003 as well as the recent productions of Sloan commissioned writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz's adaptation of An Enemy of the People, Sharr White's The Other Place and Nell Benjamin's The Explorers Club.
Since partnering with the Sloan Foundation, MTC has commissioned the following writers: Stephen Belber, Glen Berger, Lisa D'Amour, April de Angelis, Charles Evered, Melissa James Gibson, Daniel Goldfarb, Rinne Groff, Sam Hunter, Ron Hutchinson, Nick Jones, Lucy Kirkwood, Bryony Lavery, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Kenneth Lin, Craig Lucas, Michael Mitnick, Peter Morris, Hannah Moscovitch, Itamar Moses, Rona Munro, Brett Neveu, Nick Payne, Hannie Rayson, Melissa Ross, Heidi Schreck, Mark Schultz, Eric Simonson, Dava Sobel, Simon Stephens, Shelagh Stephenson, Sarah Treem, Catherine Trieschmann, John Walch, Anne Washburn, Jason Wells, Michael West, Bess Wohl, Beau Willimon and Anna Ziegler.