The Drama League has named transgender performer and writer Shakina Nayfack the 2017 Beatrice Terry Artist in Residence Fellow, named in honor of the late Beatrice Terry, an alumna of The Drama League Directors Project.
The Fellowship funds the development of a new work by an emerging female or female-identified writer-director, culminating in a residency and staged reading at The Drama League Theater Center in Tribeca. Previous recipients include Elena Araoz (Plastic Drastic, 2015) and Morgan Gould (I Wanna F****** Tear You Apart, 2016).
During the Terry Residency, Nayfack will write and direct a reading of Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club, loosely inspired by Edna Ferber and George S. Kauffman's Stage Door.
“We received an extraordinary number of superb applicants for the Terry Residency this year, but Ms. Nayfack’s project captured the imagination of the selection panel,” Drama League Executive Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks said in a statement. “This singular piece has tremendous promise, and we are overjoyed to be supporting Ms. Nayfack as she brings it to fruition.”
The advisory board who made the selection included director Michael Mayer, playwright Gretchen Michelfeld, New Georges Artistic Director Susan Bernfield, The Women’s Project Artistic Director Lisa McNulty, and Stelian-Shanks. The Residency will be administered under the mentorship of Stelian-Shanks and Drama League Associate Producer Travis Ballenger.
Nayfack's piece, according to press notes, “follows a month in the lives of the residents and employees at the Chon Inter Hotel in Chonburi, Thailand, a world-renowned destination for transgender women recovering from gender confirmation surgery. With a large cast of eccentric characters, including trans women from around the world, Thai healthcare workers, and adolescent Australian athletes, the play focuses on the temporary community and unconventional sisterhood created in the hotel lobby. A largely autobiographical exploration of what it means to become a woman, the real life joys and heartbreaks of the Butterfly Club help us all to celebrate who and what we’re becoming, even when most of us have no idea who or what that is.”
Shakina Nayfack enjoys an eclectic career as a performer, director, writer, producer, and social activist. She plays Lola on the Hulu comedy series Difficult People and is the founding artistic director of Musical Theatre Factory (MTF), where she has supported the development of over 100 new musicals, including an autobiographical rock musical about her gender confirmation, Manifest Pussy. Nayfack is the recipient of a Lilly Award for Working Miracles, recognizing the remarkable contributions to the American Theatre made by women; a TRU Humanitarian Award winner; and alumna of the Drama League Directors Project.
The Drama League Directors Project is the “preeminent career development program for theatre directors – providing talented artists with transformative experiences in the professional theatre.”