David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of School of the Arts’ Theatre Program

June 17, 2014Bookmark and Share

Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts, announced today the appointment of two acclaimed playwrights to the faculty of the Arts: David Henry Hwang, Associate Professor of Theatre in Playwriting and director of the Playwriting Concentration, and Lynn Nottage, Associate Professor in Playwriting.

“David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage are among the most influential and accomplished American dramatists of the past several decades,” said Christian Parker, Chair of the Master of Fine Arts Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. “Their work respectively cuts across genres, audiences and aesthetics. Both have contributed immeasurably to making the stories of underrepresented characters visible in a historically homogeneous field. Each of them brings a passion for the possibilities for social dialogue that can stem from great theatrical storytelling, and a great sense of generosity and rigor about training a new generation of artists.”

David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Golden Child, Yellow Face, The Dance & the Railroad and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney's Tarzan. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 Inge Award, and the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award.

“I'm thrilled for this opportunity to serve the MFA playwriting students at Columbia, helping them develop their own unique and idiosyncratic voices, and building a practical foundation for their future lives in the theatre,” said Hwang. “I couldn't ask for better partners than Lynn, Chuck Mee and the accomplished artists of the Theatre Program, and feel deeply honored to join the School of Arts during this exciting period of innovation and expansion.”

Lynn Nottage won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Ruined. Her other plays include A Stone’s Throw; Intimate Apparel; Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine; Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; and Mud, River, Stone. These plays have been developed and produced at theaters both nationally and internationally. She was a MacArthur Fellow (2007), a Guggenheim Fellow (2005) and Lucille Lortel Fellow (2007). Nottage served as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Playwriting Program in 2013.

“I couldn't be more excited to be joining David, Chuck and the wonderful faculty of the MFA Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts,” said Nottage. “I look forward to being part of a vital and creative conversation with the next generation of dynamic theatre artists.”

“That we have the great fortune to team David and Lynn up with Charles L. Mee, who has energized and raised the profile of our program enormously in his past several years with us, represents a tremendous and transformational boon to the Columbia MFA program in Playwriting,” Parker stated. “Together, these three writers cut across such a multiplicity of experiences and modes of theatrical storytelling that I feel we have an ideal trifecta of influences and teaching styles for our playwrights. This is a most exciting time for the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Theatre Program. I know I speak on behalf of all of my colleagues and our students when I offer David and Lynn a warm welcome to our community.”

The Playwriting Concentration in the Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts works to help playwrights develop their own unique voices. The curriculum begins with a workshop in the first year that focuses on collaboration with actors, directors and dramaturgs in the Program. The second year builds upon the creative relationships fostered in the first year towards a fully staged production in the spring, and allows the students to diversify their skill set into other media, like writing for film and television or musical theatre. In the third year of the program, each playwright gets to choose a favorite playwright to serve as personal mentor in writing and producing his or her thesis play, which then gets presented at New Plays Now, Columbia’s playwriting festival in the spring. Both Hwang and Nottage have served as mentors to candidates for the MFA in Playwriting.

“Not only will we now have on our faculty three of the most well-respected playwrights working today, but also three truly magnificent teachers,” said Dean Becker. “I know that together they will build a unique and fascinating program.”


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