Sloan Commission Recipients 2016/17


Marc Acito wrote the book of the Broadway musical Allegiance, which New York Newsday recognized for its “well-structured book” and “fully developed characters.” Acito’s comedy Birds of a Feather won Washington DC’s Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play. He also won the Ken Kesey award for his novel How I Paid for College, which he then adapted as a one-man musical. Other projects include Chasing Rainbows, a musical based on the adolescence of Judy Garland, at Goodspeed Musicals; a musical in Mandarin for Broadway Asia in Beijing; and The Secrets of the Universe (and Other Songs), his new play about the relationship between Albert Einstein and Marian Anderson, part one of a trilogy on science and ethics. A former commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, Acito now writes regularly for Playbill and teaches Musical Theater History and Story Structure at NYU. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, MENSA and Weight Watchers.

THE MAN IN THE MOON explores the ethical quandary of Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist universally acknowledged as the driving force of the first manned mission to the moon. After the Apollo 1 astronauts burned to death in a routine test, von Braun struggled to keep the mission alive while trying to hide his Nazi past and integrate the Marshall Space Flight Center in George Wallace’s Alabama.

Chad Beckim - GHOSTS

Chad Beckim is a New York City based playwright whose credits include Lights Rise on Grace (National New Play Network: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Azuka Theatre and Stageworks Theatre); a matter of choice, `nami; ...a matter of choice, `nami, The Main(e) Play, That Men Do, Mercy, After, The Arrival and And Miles to Go. Produced shorts include Ad Infinitum, The CoachThe Fluffer, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Tha Bess Shit, Alexander Pays a VisitBlac(c)ident, and Last First Kiss. His work has been published by Samuel French, Applause Books, Playscripts, Smith & Krauss, and in the Plays and Playwrights 2007 collection by NYTE. Chad is a founding co-Artistic Director of Partial Comfort Productions, and is currently finishing a commission for the Old Vic Theatre in London.  He was recently named a finalist for both the 2015-16 Jerome Fellowship and for the prestigious Kevin Spacey Foundation, and received a New Victory Labworks Grant to develop a play for young adults on trans youths. Chad holds an MFA in Playwrighting from Mac Wellman’s Brooklyn College Program.

Izzy and Ju Ju are identical twins in genome only.  Izzy – the calm, rational and popular one – often finds herself apologizing for her tempest in a teapot sister Ju Ju, who spends more time with her beloved bees than with people. When medical researcher mom, exhausted from bouncing Ju Ju from one treatment method to another, stumbles onto a discovery about her daughter’s beloved bees, a door is opened into family history, the legacies of trauma, and Epigenetic Inheritance.  “Ghosts” begs the question: “Do our grandparents carry with them more than just memories?”

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ELEANOR BURGESS - Start down (rewrite grant)

Eleanor Burgess writes funny plays about serious subjects. Her work has been produced or developed at the Alliance Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Centenary Stage Company, the Samuel French Festival, the National New Play Network, the Kennedy Center, Ryder Farm and Luna Stage. She’s been the recipient of an EST/Sloan commission, the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Award, the Susan Glaspell Award for Women Playwrights, and a Playwriting Fellowship at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, and a member of the writers’ group at the Arcola Theatre in London, the Everyday Inferno Theatre Development Lab, and the Patriot Program at Merrimack Rep. Originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, she has studied history at Yale College and Dramatic Writing at NYU/Tisch.

START DOWN tells the story of a San Francisco programmer who's inspired by his girlfriend's work as a teacher and founds a startup meant to help teachers in the classroom. But as the company begins to take off, it becomes unclear whether the software will help teachers - or replace them. 

Laura Maria Censabella - The Pepperberg Project

Laura Maria Censabella’s EST/Alfred P. Sloan commissioned play Paradise will be produced by Underground Railway/Central Square Theater in 2017.  She recently won the $10,000 ADAA William Saroyan Human Rights/Social Justice Drama Award for her play Carla Cooks The War.  Her plays and musicals have also been developed or produced at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, the Women’s Project and Productions, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Portland Stage, The New Harmony Project, The Working Theatre, Urban Stages, the Athena Project, m2productions, Interact Theatre (LA), the Belmont Italian American Playhouse, Pacific Resident Theatre, Wide-Eyed Productions, and the Festival of Faith and Writing, among others.  She has won three grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts for her plays and screenplays.  She has also won two daytime television Emmy Awards.  Her short film Last Call is available on Netflix and her plays have been published in The Best Short Plays of 2012-2013 (Applause Books),,, Poems and Plays and The St. Petersburg Review.  She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Writers Guild of America, East, and the League of Professional Theatre Women, and she directs the Ensemble Studio Theatre Playwrights Unit.  She graduated from Yale University and is part-time Assistant Professor in Playwriting at the New School for Drama where she won the Distinguished University-Wide Teaching Award.

Dr. Irene Pepperberg sets out to study the cognitive and communicative abilities of African Grey parrots. Her results ruffle the feathers of the traditional scientific community. What price does a woman scientist pay in trying to talk with the animals?

Cory Finley - THE ICE (rewrite grant)

Cory Finley is a Brooklyn-based playwright and director. His play The Feast was produced at the Flea Theater in March 2015 and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund. He is a Sloan grantee, a member of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre and an alumnus of Uncharted at Ars Nova and the Clubbed Thumb Early Career Writer's Group. In spring 2016 he directed the forthcoming Thoroughbred, a feature film adapted from his play of the same name.

On a remote Antarctic research base, three young research assistants struggle to fill a power vacuum left by the sudden departure of their Principal Investigator

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Kristin IdaszakThe surest poison

Kristin Idaszak is a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow. Her play Second Skin received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award. Her work has also been developed through residencies at the city of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Stage Left Theatre, and the Qualcomm Institute at Calit2 in San Diego. Kristin has co-created collaborative original work that has been seen at the WoW Festival at La Jolla Playhouse and the Blurred Borders Festival, an international showcase of contemporary dance theatre. She has been nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work and received an honorable mention on the Kilroys’ List. She was the 2015 Kennedy Center Fellow at the Sundance Theatre Lab. She has received two Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowships. Previously, Kristin served as Associate Artistic Director/Literary Manager of Caffeine Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Collaboraction. MFA: University of California, San Diego.

Before CSI, there was Alexander Gettler, an obsessive chemist whose research helped create the modern field of forensic toxicology. Set against the backdrop of prohibition-era New York, THE SUREST POISON imagines his work through the eyes and typewriter of Lois Long, a flapper and intrepid reporter who wrote under the pen name Lipstick.

Christina Quintana - Citizen Scientist

Christina Quintana is a NYC-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. Her plays include: EVENSONG (LTC Presente Roll Call of New Latina/o Plays), SCISSORING (Finalist Kitchen Dog New Works Festival, Finalist Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition), ENTER YOUR SLEEP (Elm Theatre New Orleans, FringeNYC), and BLANK CANVAS (“Best Short” Downtown Urban Theatre Festival). The recipient of commissions from Actors’ Express in Atlanta, Georgia, and Peppercorn Theatre in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s cohort of emerging playwrights, Youngblood, and a graduate of the MFA Playwriting program at Columbia University. For more, visit

In CITIZEN SCIENTIST, Kian, an actuary, and Neema, an astronomer, meet exploring the starfield for exoplanets and battling their recent losses. Together, they discover the planet Kepler-64b and learn what it means to be present here on Earth. 



Gabrielle Reisman is a playwright and director based in New York and New Orleans. She is a founding member of Underbelly, a theatre collaborative that stages immersive journey-plays in forgotten spaces, and is the director of new play incubator Brooklyn Yard. 

Gabrielle is a Sundance Theatre Lab and MacDowell Colony Alum. She is a Core Writer with the Playwrights Center, and was an NNPN Playwright in Residence at Southern Rep in New Orleans.

Gabrielle's plays have been produced in train stations, storefronts and warehouses across the country and have been translated into German. She's developed work with Page 73, Clubbed Thumb/Playwrights Horizons, Great Plains Theatre Conference, The Orchard Project, The Lark, and New Victory LabWorks among others. Gabrielle is an affiliated artist with New Georges, a playwright in residence with The NOLA Project, and an alum of Page 73's Interstate 73 writers group. Her work is published through the Killroy's List/TCG, Hot Lead Press, and the GPTC Reader. MFA: UT Austin.

In PATTERN SEEKING ANIMALS, an oceanographer, Kipp Morales, looks for ways to repair a vanishing Louisiana delta as the patterns of land loss become more personal, and political, than Kipp or her family expect.


Abby Rosebrock is a writer and actress from South Carolina. Her plays include Different AnimalsSingles in AgricultureDido of Idaho and Rain Men of Motown. Her one-act No One Is Home and excerpts from Dido of Idaho and Singles in Agriculture will be published later this year in best-of anthologies by Smith & Kraus. Abby is a current member of EST Youngblood.

In LA VIDA ES CORTA, an English teacher turns vigilante when she enlists anti-corporate hackers to help investigate her husband's activity on an extramarital dating site.

Charly Evon Simpson - UNDER THE SHEET

Charly Evon Simpson is a playwright and performer in New York City. Her plays include Hottentotted, or what she will, Fish Out of Waterwho we let inWhile We Wait and more.  Her work has been developed, seen, and/or heard at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ars Nova, The Flea, The Tank, the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Festival, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and more. Charly is an alum of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre and a former Playwright-in-Residence with Philadelphia Dramatists Center. Charly received her B.A. from Brown, a master’s in Women’s Studies from Oxford, and is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College.

UNDER THE SHEET will be a fictional portrayal of the intersections between slavery and the development of gynecology.

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C. Denby SwansonNUTSHELL

C. Denby Swanson graduated from Houston’s High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Smith College, the National Theatre Institute, and the University of Texas Michener Center for Writers, where she was a fellow in playwriting and screenwriting. She has been a Jerome Fellow, a William Inge Playwright in Residence, and a McKnight Advancement Grant recipient. Her work has been commissioned by the Guthrie Theater, 15 Head a Theatre Lab, Macalester College, and The Drilling Company, and developed at the Southern Playwrights Festival, the Women Playwrights Project, the Lark Theater’s Playwrights Week, PlayLabs, the WPA Festival at Salvage Vanguard, JAW: A Playwrights Festival at Portland Center Stage, New York Stage & Film, the Culture Project’s Impact Festival, the Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, and the Earth Matters on Stage Festival at the University of Oregon. Her blues play Blue Monday was developed at ZACH Theatre Center as part of the NEA/TCG National Theater Residency Program for Playwrights. Her plays for young people include Everything So Far, adapted from a 9th grade biology textbook, and Relative, based on a story about her father, a mathematics professor. Her “killer comedy” The Norwegians had a successful year-long run in New York City at The Drilling Company and a rave review in the NY Times. The play was published by Dramatists Play Service and the Smith & Kraus Best Plays and Best Monologues of 2014 collections. Her other work is published by Heinemann and Playscripts, Inc. She is on the faculty at Southwestern University.

NUTSHELL is one-woman play about the mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee, who used her inheritance in the 1930's and 1940's to make miniatures of crime scenes, which are still used today to train investigators. In the play, she uses forensic science to understand the physical evidence of her own life, and to build the legacy that even today continues to help solve violent crimes.

ANDREA THOME - UNTITLED al-Zarqali project

Andrea Thome is a Chilean/Costa Rican-American playwright whose plays include Pinkolandia (INTAR, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Two River Theater, Chicago’s 16th Street Theater; supported by The Lark’s Launching New Plays Program); Undone (Kilroys list; Queens College Theater, Victory Gardens' Ignition Festival, The Lark); Worm Girl (Cherry Red Productions, DC) and the music-theater piece The Necklace of the Dove (New Georges Audrey Residency 2016-17, Mabou Mines Resident Artist, 2013 & 2015). For the Public Theater, she recently created the community-based play Troy in collaboration with director Laurie Woolery and the ACTivate Ensemble, and is currently ‘translating’ Shakespeare’s Cymbeline into modern English for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Andrea’s Spanish-English translations include Guillermo Calderón’s Neva (Public Theater, Center Theatre Group),  Rodrigo García's You Should Have Stayed Home, Morons (Center Theatre Group), and David Gaitán’s Paradise by Design CalArts).  She directs The Lark's Mexico-US Playwright Exchange Program, co-directs the satire collective FULANA (, and has worked in schools all over NYC. She has been a Blue Mountain Center and MacDowell fellow, and was a resident playwright at New Dramatists from 2009-2016.

For hundreds of years under Muslim rule, Toledo was a center of scientific learning where Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars came together to study the knowledge of Islam’s Golden Age. But it’s 1085, the city has been conquered by Christian king Alfonso VI, and many must flee, including famous Muslim-Spanish astronomer al-Zarqali. Jimena, a young Christian woman who has run away (dressed as a man) to pursue her education, follows al-Zarqali on the road south to al-Andalus, and tries to convince him to let her study with him. Their physical travels become a metaphysical journey, challenging their perceptions not only of the ‘scientific’ world or the compatibility of religion and faith, but of who they are, and for what we exist.

Benjamin WeinerUntitled alfred nobel project

Benjamin Weiner is a Brooklyn-based playwright, composer, and educator.  He is writer-in-residence at Upstream Artist Collective, with whom he presented his new play, The Noise, at Dixon Place. He is developing a new eco-play with Upstream and an adaptation of Yiddish folktales with director Ben Kamine. He has received the Core Apprentice fellowship from the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, and developed original theater with the Onassis Foundation. He also writes musicals with students from Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights.

Benjamin is exploring the genesis of the Nobel Prize, focusing on the personal relationships that shaped Nobel's devotion to science and pacifism.


Leah Nanako Winkler is from Kamakura Japan and Lexington Kentucky. Her play Kentucky was among the top 10 on the 2015 Kilroys List and recently received an Off-Broadway Premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre in coproduction with Page 73 and the Radio Drama Network. It will receive a West Coast Premiere at East West Players this November. Leah is also the author of Two Mile Hollow (2016 Kilroys Honorable Mention), Death For Sydney Black (terraNova Collective, 2015 Kilroys Honorable Mention), and Double Suicide At Ueno Park (EST/Marathon). Her collections of short plays, Nagoriyuki & Other Short Plays and The Lowest Form Of Writing are available on Amazon and have been performed all over the US, France and Asia. Her works have also been published in Nanjing University’s Stage and Screen Reviews , Smith and Krauss, and Sam French. She is a winner of the 2015 Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival, a 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee, a two time recipient of the A/P/A commission for the Japanese American National Museum, a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship for Creative Writing, a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Playwrights Group, a commissioned writer with 2G, a Time Warner Foundation Fellow of 2016-2018 Lab at the Women’s Project Theater, NYC and a recent alumnus of Youngblood at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. MFA candidate- Brooklyn College.

RUBY a story about strength, perseverance and finding the courage to follow a dream in the face of overwhelming adversity and psychological warfare. It’s told through the lens of the whip-smart and often cryptically funny Dr. Ruby Hirose, an unknown Japanese American chemist who performed groundbreaking contributions to polio vaccine development- while her family was interned after Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066.

"Regional Partnership Grants were awarded to The Barrow Group (NYC, NY), Central Square Theater (Cambridge, MA), San Francisco Playhouse (San Francisco, CA), StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance (Pittsboro, NC) and The Virginia Stage Company (Norfolk, VA).