GOODNIGHT, TYLER by B.J. Tindal wins The Alliance/Kendeda Competition
The Alliance/Kendeda Competition continues to spotlight the best emerging playwrights with a full production for the competition winner and staged readings for four competition finalists. GOODNIGHT, TYLER by B.J. Tindal of Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage program is the 16th competition winner and will have its world premiere on the Hertz Stage February 16 – March 10, 2019.
GOODNIGHT, TYLER is a contemporary and unexpectedly humorous drama. From the show synopsis, “Depending on whom you ask, Tyler Evans was a beloved best friend, grandson, mentor, and fiancée, or, Tyler Evans was a young Black man killed by a police officer. Desperate to control the contradicting narratives of his untimely passing, Tyler haunts his best friend as his other friends and relatives quibble over his legacy, seeking an elusive common ground.”
“I started writing GOODNIGHT, TYLER shortly after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in 2014. Every time a new photo of a dead Black person was plastered across my Facebook newsfeed, I immediately returned to push through the first draft.” said playwright B.J. Tindal. “I want this play to validate the Black experience of loving and living. I want it to affirm the fact that Black people are here, choosing to love how we love freely, outside of violence.”
MFA Faculty Member Honored By Variety Magazine
MFA faculty member, Zina Camblin, honored by Variety Magazine in Entertainment Education: Top Teachers in Film, TV and More.
Welcome to Jeb Stuart
We’re excited that in September, Jeb Stuart, screenwriter of Die Hard and The Fugitive, will be joining us as Writing for Screen+Stage/RTF faculty.
Kaplan Artist-in-Residence Rohina Malik
MFA Writing students met with playwright Rohina Malik after attending a production of her play YASMINA’S NECKLACE at The Goodman Theater. Ms. Malik will be a Kaplan Resident Artist at NU this spring.
Visit by Academy Award-nominated and Tony winning John Logan
Academy Award-nominated and Tony winning NU/SOC Alumnus John Logan speaks to our students.
Netflix ordered an original Indian pilot written by alumna
Netflix ordered an original Indian pilot written by alumna Marisha Mukerjee (’11).
Chicago’s FILM 50
Newcity has their latest list of Chicago’s FILM 50. NU and RTVF are again well represented with RTVF Chair and Director of the Northwestern University MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage Dave Tolchinsky and Northwestern University MFA in Documentary Media program director Debra Tolchinsky checking in at #7 on the list. Landing on the cover of the NewCity issue as Film Leader of the Moment is Aymar Jean Christian, a courtesy appointment of RTVF. NU alum/Music Box co-director Brian Andreotti is #12 on the list and NU alum/Siskel Film Center Director of Public Programs Amy Beste checks in at #30.
MC-10 Playwrights Ensemble
The Greenhouse Theater Center has established the MC-10 Playwrights Ensemble, a group comprising some of Chicago’s most prominent “mid-career” playwrights, and will commit to producing at least one play by a member of the group in every season, beginning with the 2018–2019 slate.
The MC-10 members include Northwestern faculty members Thomas Bradshaw, Zayd Dohrn, Rebecca Gilman, Brett Neveu, and Laura Schellhardt.
Chicago Dramatists 2017 Resident Playwrights
Alumna Jenni Lamb and Faculty member Zina Camblin were named Chicago Dramatists 2017 Resident Playwrights.
Visit by playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner
Our students were treated to a private meeting with playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner, when he was in town for the Chicago Humanities Festival. It was an amazing discussion moderated by MFA associate director Zayd Dohrn.
Independent comedy by alum
Alum Jake Disch (’14) is currently shooting his independent comedy SATURDAY AT THE STARLIGHT, starring Abigail Breslin, Denise Richards, and Michael Madsen.
New RTVF podcast series
First up: MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage student Kate Royal interviews MFA in Writing for Screen and Stage alumna Jenny Hagel about her time at NU, her various writing gigs, and her current gig working with NU SOC alum Seth Meyers. Learn more.
Awards, awards, awards!
What an extraordinary year our MFA faculty and alumni are having. Congrats to all!
And apologizes if we missed anyone (let us know!).
- Thomas Bradshaw, 2017 Pen America Literary Award for Emerging American Playwright
- Zayd Dohrn, winner, The 2017 Horton Foote Prize for his play, The Profane
- Rebecca Gilman, Induction into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame
- David Tolchinsky, Silver Award, 2017 Los Angeles Film Review Independent Film Awards, for The Coming of Age (written and produced by David Tolchinsky; directed and produced by David Bradburn)
- Brett Neveu, Jeff Award nomination in the Equity midsized production category, for his play, Pilgrim’s Progress, produced at A Red Orchid Theatre
- Jenny Hagel, WGA award nomination as part of the writing staff of Late Night with Seth Meyers
- Stephanie Kornick, WGA award nomination as part of the writing staff of Transparent
- Jen Spyra, WGA award nomination as part of the writing staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
- Will Arbery, Northwestern University Awardee, the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists
2016 WGA Nominations
The 2017 Writers Guild nominations are out! Among the nominees for COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES are Northwestern University MFA in Writing for Screen + Stage alumni Jenny Hagel (’09) and Jen Spyra (’12).
Jen Spyra was nominated as part of the writing team for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Northwestern School of Communication Class of ’86), and Jenny Hagel was nominated as part of the writing team for Late Night with Seth Meyers (Northwestern School of Communication Class of ’96). Congratulations writers!
Jenny Hagel (right) on set for Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Jen Spyra on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Writer/Director David Hollander
Our MFAs had a great visit in October with writer/director David Hollander, NU alum and showrunner of Showtime’s Ray Donovan. (Pictured with MFA Director Dave Tolchinsky and the MFA writers)
New City Film 50
RTVF Faculty Spencer Parsons says that he’s “not the only movie person” staying with Chicago. “I’ve noticed more filmmakers are sticking around, and good crew members are getting more work in all the TV shows, from ‘Easy’ and ‘Exorcist’ up through the ever-expanding Dick Wolf empire. I think it’s a good time for independent directors, producers and writers to make even small-budget projects with these highly skilled and enthusiastic collaborators.” Congratulations for the FILM 50 2016!
Pulitzer Prize-Winner Ayad Akhtar
We were thrilled to host Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar in November. He had wonderful words of inspiration for our MFA writers. Pictured below with Assoc. MFA Director Zayd Dohrn and MFA Director Dave Tolchinsky.
Sarah Gubbins on Her New Amazon Show
“I’ll hopefully write more plays, features, television — storytelling is storytelling,” Gubbins said. “But it has definitely given me a big appetite for making television and writing television and envisioning what a show can be.” Read the full story from the Daily Northwestern.
Rebecca Gilman Honored in Alabama
Faculty member Rebecca Gilman was inducted into the Alabama writer’s hall of fame on September 29th, 2016. Gilman was one of four living authors to receive the honor, though nine were inducted in total.
Faculty Member Zayd Dohrn praised for “The Profane”
Faculty member Zayd Dohrn was one of two playwrights to receive the Horton Foote prize for his play, “The Profane.” The award honors excellence in American theater every two years. “The Profane” is also a second-round recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards, which provides triannual grants to allow more time for creative development on new plays.
Amazon picks up Alumna Sarah Gubbins’ pilot for full series
Alumna Sarah Gubbins’s pilot I LOVE DICK has been picked up for a full series by Amazon! Jill Soloway produces.
Professor Tolchinsky hoods alum Seth Meyers
Program Director Dave Tolchinsky hoods alum Seth Meyers at the Northwestern University 2016 Graduation.
MFA Students reflect on summer internships
Read about Class of 2017 MFA student Cat Davidson’s summer internship in the writer’s room of TNT’s Major Crimes at The Television Academy.
From sitting in the writers’ room for a new comedic website to reading scripts and writing coverage, Northwestern University MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage student Adam Hughes is getting great experience at his internships at Red Hour Films and David Zucker Entertainment in LA this summer! In the latest EPICS student spotlight, Adam talks about these two very different internships.
On-set with alum Julia Louis Dreyfus
The Advanced Sitcom Writing Class and instructor Zina Camblin on-set with Julia Louis Dreyfus.
MFA holds annual Festival of New Work and Writer’s Panel
On May 13, 2016, the MFA hosted our annual Festival of New Work and Writer’s Panel. The theme of this year’s panel was “Writing Fact and Fiction.”
Below: Writing panelists Lisa Cortes, Deidre O’Connor, Laura Eason, and Aaron Carter, with moderator/MFA faculty member Zayd Dohrn and MFA director Dave Tolchinsky.
Tolchinsky discusses upcoming incubator series, SICK BY SEVEN
Check out this interview with Program Director Dave Tolchinsky on the upcoming A Red Orchid Theatre incubator series SICK BY SEVEN, featuring plays by Tolchinsky, instructor Brett Neveu, and alumna Shannon Pritchard (Class of 2014).
Congratulations to the Class of 2016 on their graduation!
LIZZY premieres at one-act play festival
Alum Roger Q. Mason’s (Class of 2016) short play LIZZY premiered at the Ensemble Studio Theater’s first one-act play festival.
Alum Will Arbery awarded Edes Foundation Prize
Alum Will Arbery (Class of 2015) is the 2016 Northwestern University Awardee of the Edes Foundation Prize.
Alumna Jenni Lamb finishes Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit
Alumna Jenni Lamb (Class of 2013)’s play MESSINA received a staged reading as the culmination of her time in the 2015-2016 Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit.
Alum Farhan Arshad joins “Man With a Plan” team
Alum Farhan Arshad has been staffed on CBS’s upcoming series “Man With a Plan” staring Matt LeBlanc and directed by James Burrows. Farhan, a member of the 2016 Disney Storytellers program, has also written for ABC’s Dr. Ken and Kirby Buckets on Disney XD.
Alum Sarah Gubbins discusses upcoming work with Transparent’s Jill Soloway
Alum Sarah Gubbins (Class of 2010) is writing the pilot for Jill Soloway’s (Transparent) new Amazon series I Love Dick, as well as co-writing Soloway’s feature film Ten Aker Wood. Listen to her interview with current MFA Second Year Kate Royal about representation, art, and writing on After Ellen.
MFA graduates selected for the 2016 Araca Project
Congratulations to recently graduated MFAs Kate Tucker Fahlsing, Mercedes Lake, and Diana Losen (Class of 2016), who have been selected for the 2016 Araca Project! Kate will be co-producing her new play ACROSS THE PARK, and Diana and Mercedes will be co-producing Mercedes’ new play TAUGHT for Araca’s producing intensive, culminating in a New York Production! Talk about cohort collaboration.
Student News 2016
MFA First Year Kate Royal (Class of 2017) interviewed with MFA alumn Sarah Gubbins (Class of 2008) about representation, art, and writing on After Ellen: http://www.afterellen.com/tv/477647-sarah-gubbins-cocked-new-tv-series-jill-soloway
Alumni News 2016
- Sarah Gubbins (‘08) is writing the pilot for Jill Soloway’s (Transparent) new Amazon series I Love Dick, as well as co-writing Soloway’s feature film Ten Aker Wood.
- Jenny Hagel (’09) was staffed on Late Night with Seth Meyers
- Ethan Kass (’12) is a staff writer on TNT’s Murder in the First
- Jen Spyra (’12) has joined the writing staff of Late Night with Stephen Colbert (WGA Award for Comedy)
- Farhan Arshad (‘10) has been accepted into the Disney Storytellers program, and wrote an episode of ABC’s Dr. Ken
Theater Productions and Publications
- Sarah Gubbins’ (‘08) play Cocked premiered this spring at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. Her play fml: How Carson McCullers Saved my Life premiered at Steppenwolf in 2012
- Jenni Lamb (’13) has been selected for the 2015-16 Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit
- MFA alumnae Milta Ortiz, Meridith Friedman, Sarah Gubbins and Jenni Lamb made The Kilroys List and Honorable Mentions of 2015.
David Tolchinsky honored for his work
David Tolchinsky’s full-length play, “Clear,” was one of six selected to be published in 2015/issue 3 of Proscenium Theatre Journal. The journal also ran a long interview with him. Previously, he was commissioned by Fork the Man Productions to write the film “The Coming of Age” and is now one of the co-producers on the project; the film is complete and is being submitted to film festivals. The trailer for the project was edited by Zach Lorkiewicz (RTF Class of ‘12). Tolchinsky was also nominated for Best Play and was named Best Director at the Strawberry One-Act Play Festival, Hudson Guild Theatre, New York City, in February, for his play “Where’s the Rest of Me?”.
Tolchinsky was honored for this directing award at the NU Faculty Recognition dinner on September 28. The play was selected for inclusion in a volume of the best plays from the festival, to be published later this winter. His feature, Girl (screenwriter and associate producer), “from a million years ago” said Tolchinsky, starring Dominique Swain, Selma Blair, Portia de Rossi and Sean Patrick Flanery, was released on iTunes. He was featured along with our MFA in Doc Media program director Debra Tolchinsky at #8 on Newcity Magazine’s Film 50 List. A great honor for both of them, the program and the department.
Brett Neveu’s play listed in Chicago Magazine’s Most Anticipated Plays
Faculty member Brett Neveu’s play “Pilgrim’s Progress,” starring Oscar nominee Michael Shannon, premiered at A Red Orchid Theatre this November. “Pilgrim’s Progress” has been listed as number 3 in Chicago Magazine’s Most Anticipated Plays list this fall and just received a great review in The Chicago Tribune.
Zayd Dohrn’s untitled drama series acquired by Showtime
Faculty member Zayd Dohrn’s untitled drama series has been acquired by Showtime, with Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures attached. His play Muckrakers was produced at New Repertory Theatre in Boston, and his play Reborning opened at the Fountain Theatre, where it was an LA Times “Critic’s Pick.”
Thomas Bradshaw profiled in the latest Chicago Magazine
Faculty member Thomas Bradshaw was profiled in the latest Chicago Magazine about his art and his play “Fulfillment,” which also received a positive review from The New York Times for its performance at The Flea Theatre in New York City. The Goodman will produce the world premiere of Bradshaw’s play “Carlyle” this spring. “Carlyle” is about an African-American politician who is a member of the Republican Party and was first featured during The Goodman’s 2014 New Stages Festival.
Student and Alum News 2015
MFA in Writing for Screen and Stage alum Ethan Kass (MFA class of ’12) has been staffed on TNT’s Murder in the First.
“Time Difference” by current MFA Lin Tu (MFA class of ‘16) premiered at Aspen’s acclaimed Theater Masters’ ninth annual TAKE TEN: NATIONAL MFA PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL. Her experience with the festival was an incredible journey, opening her the broad, wondrous theatre world. “Theater Masters” led to productions in Aspen and New York with professional directors and actors; panel discussions and local TV interviews; meetings with people from agencies, organizations, and publishing houses; conversations with an acclaimed artistic director and actress among seven other talented playwrights; and a publication of the collection of the festival’s short plays.
Sara Accuardi’s (MFA class of ‘09) play was chosen for this year’s Seven Devils Playwrights Conference.
Nayna Agrawal (MFA class of ‘15) joined Grey’s Anatomy as a writer’s P.A. in May. In September, she performed her selected short fiction piece “Envy and Tuberculosis” at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles. She was recently awarded a three-month writing residency in France, funded in part by the Tenot Foundation.
Erin Austin (MFA class of ‘13) won the 2015 Red Theater Playwriting Competition for her play “Insert Heart Here.”
Carrie Barrett’s (MFA class of ‘08) short film OPEN HOUSE was just selected as the winner of the Los Angeles Film Festival/ Funny or Die Make ‘Em LAFF Showcase. It was directed by fellow Northwestern MFA graduate Marisha Mukerjee with help from fellow MFA graduate Lauren Bennett. She is also one of five playwrights chosen for the Humanitas/CTG PLAY LA Workshop.
Gabrielle Fulton (MFA class of ‘10), whose play “Uprising” at Horizon Theatre Company received 4 nominations for the Suzi Bass Awards in Atlanta, including Outstanding World Premiere. “Uprising” was also part of Women’s Voices Festivals in DC.
Sarah Gubbins’ (MFA class of ‘08) play Cocked is featured as one of six new plays to debut Off-Broadway, produced by The Atlantic Theater Company and premiered at Victory Gardens in the spring.
Stephanie Kornick (MFA class of ‘10) is a writer’s assistant on Transparent.
Jenni Lamb (MFA class of ‘12) has been named as a member of the Goodman Theatre’s 2016 Playwrights Unit. It’s the Goodman’s sixth iteration of the Playwrights Unit and their first all-female group. She is also the inaugural winner of Route 66 Theater Company’s New Play Development Workshop.
Marisha Mukerjee (MFA class of ’11) has joined the writing staff of NBC’s Heroes: Reborn
Eoghan O’Donnell (MFA class of ’09) wrapped his CW show The Messengers, where he served as showrunner and producer. He has been hired as the co-executive producer for the second season of MTV’s Scream TV series.
Milta Ortiz (MFA class of ‘12) received a stunning review for her play “Más” performed at Borderlands Theatre.
Jen Spyra (MFA class of ‘12) is part of the writing staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which has been nominated for best Comedy/Variety Series by the Writer’s Guild of America.
Shannon Pritchard’s (MFA class of ‘14) play “Traces” premiered at Jackalope Theatre Company in Chicago this past March, as the inaugural production in their Pioneer series. Her play “Practice Babies” received a staged reading at TimeLine Theatre in April as part of their TimePieces series.
MFA alumnae Milta Ortiz, Meridith Friedman, Sarah Gubbins and Jenni Lamb made The Kilroys List and Honorable Mentions this year.
Rebecca Gilman 2015 Steinberg/ATCA award recipient
Professor Rebecca Gilman is the 2015 Steinberg/ATCA award recipient for her play “Luna Gale.” She was additionally honored at the NU Faculty Recognition Dinner held at the president’s house on Sept 28 for this award. Additionally The Acting Company’s one act interpretations of Tennessee Williams short stories, featuring her play based on “The Field of Blue Children” (1937), received a write-up by The New York Times. The play is set at contemporary University of Alabama with Williams’s main character, Myra, as Layley, a sorority sister drawn to a poet. Her new play “Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976” is part of the Goodman’s regular season.
MFA alum Eoghan O’Donnell premieres his new TV series The Messengers
Congrats to MFA alum Eoghan O’Donnell on the premiere of his new TV series The Messengers on the CW!
Rebecca Gilman wins the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award
Congratulations to faculty member Rebecca Gilman on winning the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award!