Echo offers unique opportunity for young writers with ‘National Young Playwrights in Residence' program

The Lemon


LOS ANGELES (Oct. 23, 2017) — Los Angeles-based Echo Theater Company, long recognized for its dedication to creating new work for the theater, has selected six young writers from across the country to participate in its newly minted “National Young Playwrights in Residence” program, designed to nurture the next generation of playwrights through professional mentorship, staged readings and the sharing of their work through digital platforms.
“We wanted to develop an option for kids with talent and potential whose ability to further a writing career is limited by geography or finances,” explains Echo Theater artistic director Chris Fields.
Each of six playwrights ages 18 -25 from across the U.S. will be paired in a year-long mentorship with an established professional writer with the goal of developing a new work. Students and mentors not located in the same geographical area will work together via video chat and voice calls. Staged readings of the young playwrights' work will take place at the Echo in June, 2018.
According to Echo Theater Company's director of new programming Andrew Shafer, the goal of NYPR is to break down barriers that might prevent talented young playwrights from receiving the recognition, support, and guidance so critical in a writer's early development.
“We are committed to being there for the young writer to ensure that new voices from all across the country are getting a chance to be heard,” he says. “This residency is a transformative way for new writers to fearlessly create bold new work with the support of a professional artistic community.”
The inaugural crop of six young playwrights, selected from over 200 applicants from 30 states, includes Cambria Denim, based in Texas; Zoe Jovanovich from Western Washington; Imani A. Redman, originally from New Jersey and currently a junior in the BFA program at Ohio University; Andrew Siañez-De La O from El Paso, Texas; Dayna Smith from Boise, Idaho; and Jorrell Watkins from Richmond, Virginia.
They will be paired with six established playwright/mentors: Michael Batistick (off-Broadway productions of Chicken, Port Authority Throw Down and Ponies); Dominic Finocchiaro (Echo's world premiere of Found Dog Ribbon Dance earlier this year); Mary Laws (Blueberry Toast at the Echo, AMC's Preacher), Charlotte Miller (Thieves for Rising Phoenix Rep/Weathervane/Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in N.Y. and L.A.); Daria Polatin (productions at the Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Naked Angels as well as in L.A., London and Hong Kong; Amazon TV's Jack Ryan); and Jacqueline Wright (Bing, Have You Seen Alice, Spider Bites, Beautiful, Eat Me).
“We were looking for bold, original voices that represent a diversity of experiences and backgrounds/perspectives,” Shafer says.
Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a 2016 “Kilroy Cake Drop” – one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Adam Bock and Miki Johnson among others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” KCRW's Anthony Byrnes stated, “It's time to start paying attention to the Echo Theater Company… The company has made bold choices and backed them up.” Last season's production of Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel received the Ovation Award for Best Production and was recently remounted at Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre by Center Theatre Group as part of “Block Party.” Recent productions include the world premieres of Fixed by Boni B. Alvarez and The Cake by Bekah Brunsetter, both named “Critic's Choice” by the Los Angeles Times. The Echo Theater Company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
For more information about the Echo Theater Company, visit