Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author Ayad Akhtar has been named Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s next resident playwright.
As part of the American Voices New Play Institute, the residency is effective July 2016-June 2017. Akhtar’s emotionally charged drama Disgraced, which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, completes Arena Stage’s 2015-16 season. Now in previews, the production officially opens April 28 and runs through May 29.
Through the Arena Stage residency Akhtar will receive a salary; health benefits; a budget to cover collaborator fees, workshop costs and research expenses to support his new play development process; and a commitment from Arena Stage to produce a new work in a future season and to continue cultivating an ongoing, long-term relationship.
“Ayad is an inspiration. His work is immediate, muscular, bitingly funny, thought-provoking and vital to the American theater,” states artistic director Smith. “His masterful use of language creates complex characters wrestling with the major issues of our day—identity, family, love, religion, race and politics. I expect this residency will challenge us both and I embrace it!”
Akhtar adds, "Molly Smith's vision of a theater for and about America, situated at the heart of American political life, is not only deeply inspiring, but also aligns with the preoccupations of my next series of works. I couldn't be more thrilled to be joining Arena for the coming year, and spending time with the theater's staff and artists at the Mead Center."
Akhtar joins an acclaimed group of writers who have benefited through the Institute, including the original resident writers Amy Freed, Katori Hall, Lisa Kron, Charles Randolph-Wright and Karen Zacarías, as well as Samuel D. Hunter, Lydia R. Diamond and, most recently, John Strand, who completes his residency in June 2016.
For biographies for all of the resident writers, click here.