Commissions to launch PlayMakers’ “@PLAY” new works development program, which focuses on adding more women’s voices and experiences to American Theatre

(Chapel Hill, NC, March 8, 2021) PlayMakers Repertory Company proudly announces new play commissions by two important, transformational voices of the American Theatre, Bekah Brunstetter and Charly Evon Simpson. Their commissions mark the official launch of the theatre’s @PLAY new works development program, with its focus on supporting women playwrights and spotlighting stories by and about women of a diverse range of identities.

Bekah Brunstetter’s “The Cake” was a PlayMakers audience favorite in 2017. She is currently collaborating with recording artist Ingrid Michaelson on a musical adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, among many other theatre and television projects. Charly Evon Simpson debuted “Jump,” an audience and critical standout at PlayMakers in 2019, and, along with several projects for the stage, recently signed on as consulting producer for HBO’s Industry and is a member of the writing team for the second season of the network’s Perry Mason.

“Producing new work and developing relationships with the brave, thoughtful writers who are making their mark on the American Theatre today is a true labor of love. In the past five seasons, we have premiered ten new plays, several of which have gone on to great success across the country,” said Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director. “@PLAY has grown out of this effort, as well as our Company’s commitment to diverse representation and equity in our corner of American Theatre and beyond. Women’s stories are complex and vibrant but plays written by women and from an intersectional point of view still struggle to get produced. @PLAY was created to help change that, and reflect the incredible breadth, depth, and influence of women’s voices in the 2020s. Bekah and Charly are brilliant playwrights, and I can’t wait for our company, the UNC Chapel Hill community, and our audiences to be in conversation with these dynamic women and their work over the next few years.”

“UNC-Chapel Hill is where I found my voice as a playwright, where I started to believe in myself as a writer,” said Brunstetter. “Seeing plays at PlayMakers during my undergrad years was a huge inspiration. It truly feels like a homecoming to write a play for PlayMakers, and I can’t wait to spend some time in Chapel Hill, relive some memories and eat all of the food. I’m especially excited to collaborate with Vivienne, who had the very smart idea to ask me what might happen if I adapted ‘Lysistrata’. I’m so excited to explore gender, marriage, femininity and masculinity through a contemporary lens, with some humor, heart and video games (there’s your one hint).”

“My favorite thing about writing a new play is that it is an opportunity to create and share a new world,” said Simpson. “I love when a new work can bring people together and through its creation and production, allow the opportunity for new and different connections. I love facilitating that by creating the story that a company then dreams into reality on stage. I’m looking forward to working with the Company at PlayMakers, and hope that by consciously exploring the new, we find that common ground that live theatre is so good at creating.”

@PLAY is funded in part by the PlayMakers New Commissions Fund. These commissions will be written, workshopped, and produced at PlayMakers Repertory Company over the next few years, and the playwrights will also participate in a variety of community and campus events at UNC Chapel Hill.

For more information about @PLAY, visit www.playmakersrep.org/atplay

About PlayMakers

PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company. For more than 45 years, we have produced relevant and courageous work that tells stories from and for a multiplicity of perspectives and creates transformational impact in our immediate and extended communities. We are proud to be part of a 100+ year tradition of playmaking at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and are committed to becoming an antiracist organization whose work is accessible to all. PlayMakers has been named one of the “best regional theatres in America”.

About the PlayMakers New Commissions Fund

The PlayMakers New Commissions Fund was established in 2019 to thoughtfully engage leading American playwrights. The goal of the Fund is to build a culture of new play development at PlayMakers Repertory Company that will establish Chapel Hill, North Carolina as a destination for artists to create new work that pushes the art form forward.

PlayMakers Contacts

For press information and interviews, contact Diana Pineda, Director of Sales and Marketing, at dmpineda@email.unc.edu

For more information about the PlayMakers New Commissions Fund, contact Amelia Stanley, Director of Development, at amelia.stanley@email.unc.edu