The Public has received a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch the position, which will "provide an artistic home and support for established playwrights whose work has set the standard for the highest level of achievement in theatre," according to a press statement. "Inspired by the university model, the full-salaried position affords writers the flexibility and freedom to pursue their artistic goals and endeavors."
The Chair position also includes a Visiting Arts Professor appointment at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, which will begin Nov. 1 in the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing. This residency is sponsored as part of the Public Writers Initiative, which nurtures the work of playwrights in all stages of their careers.
"Suzan-Lori Parks is one of our greatest artists, and this Chair will allow her the freedom to follow her unique vision wherever it might lead her. We at The Public are honored to have her as part of our family," said Public artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. "I hope The Mellon Foundation's astonishing support will inspire theaters and philanthropists across the country to establish Chairs to keep our best playwrights in the theater, where they belong."
Parks, whose works The America Play, Venus, In the Blood, Topdog/Underdog, Fucking A and 365 Days/365 Plays, have been presented or developed at the Public, added, "The Public Theater has been my artistic home since 1993, and I feel grateful and blessed that this new position was created to offer unprecedented support for my writing. I'm also excited to be invited to participate in the full artistic life of the theatre. I'm impressed by the course that Oskar Eustis has charted for The Public, and I look forward to helping to support his vision in any way I can."
Suzan-Lori Parks is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her play Topdog/Underdog, which was produced at The Public and on Broadway. Her other works include 365 Days/365 Plays, Fucking A, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom, The America Play, Venus, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World and In The Blood, among others. Parks is attached to direct a forthcoming Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences, and is currently writing the book for the Ray Charles musical for the film producers of "Ray."