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New Dramatists Picks Resident Playwrights, Names Lab Director

New Dramatists, the Tony-winning not-for-profit devoted to developing new works by playwrights, has announced the names of seven individuals who will receive seven-year residencies with the organization. In addition, New Dramatists has named John Steber, a former resident director with the organization, to serve as director of the Playwrights' Lab, one of the means by which member dramatists participate in workshops and readings.

The seven new resident playwrights were selected from a pool of 248 applicants, according to a written statement released by New Dramatists, following an eight-month evaluation process. They are Zakiyyah Alexander, Julia Cho, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Rinne Groff, Jordan Harrison, Oni Faida Lampley, and Sarah Ruhl.

Alexander, a Yale School of Drama graduate, has seen her work produced and/or developed at the Greenwich Street Theatre, New York International Fringe Festival, and La MaMa E.T.C., among other venues. Cho, a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist, wrote "The Architecture of Loss," which was seen at New York Theatre Workshop last season; she has also received commissions from the Mark Taper Forum, Ma-Yi Theater Company, and South Coast Repertory. Cortiñas has enjoyed workshops at the Public Theater and the Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage; he has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and he is a winner of the Helen Merrill Award.

Groff, who is both a playwright and performer, is known for such plays as "Jimmy Carter Was a Democrat," produced by Clubbed Thumb and performed at P.S. 122; "The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem," mounted by Target Margin Theater; and "Orange Lemon Egg Canary," seen earlier this year at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Harrison's plays, too, have been seen in Louisville, in New York at Playwrights Horizons, Rude Mechanicals, and the Flea Theater, and in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater. His play "Kid-Simple" is also running in the Summer Play Festival on Theatre Row, July 13-18. Lampley's first play, "Mixed Babies," captured the 1991 Helen Hayes Award for outstanding new play; later it was produced by Manhattan Class Company, now MCC Theater, in New York; her other plays, produced and developed nationwide, include "The Dark Kalamazoo," "The Fire This Time," and "Tough Titty." Ruhl is the winner of the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play "The Clean House," and last year she won the Helen Merrill Award.

Previous resident playwrights have included Robert Anderson, James Baldwin, Richard Dresser, Horton Foote, Richard Foreman, Philip Kan Gotanda, William Inge, Wendy Kesselman, Donald Margulies, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel, Mac Wellman, August Wilson, and Lanford Wilson.

Steber, New Dramatists' new Playwrights' Lab director, has worked at many New York venues, including HERE and the Ensemble Studio Theatre; he was also a member of the 1996 and 1999 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Labs. At New Dramatists, Steber will serve as casting director for the lab, and will supervise the use of the organization's two theatres. He will oversee a variety of special programs, including the composer/librettist studio.

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