Playwright Commissions

MRT Announces Five New Commissioned Playwrights (8/1/22)

MRT welcomes five new commissioned playwrights: Vichet Chum, Kevin Kling, Melinda Lopez, Dael Orlandersmith, and Kalean Ung.

The commissions will provide the writers with long-term development and production support in creating new works for the theatre, according to Nancy L. Donahue Artistic Director Courtney Sale and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas.

Sale said, “The heart of our mission at MRT is new works. We need new stories, new forms of communication, new partnerships, and new ways of seeing as we move through a post-pandemic landscape. I am honored the writing and voices of Dael Orlandersmith, Kalean Ung, Kevin Kling, Melinda Lopez, and Vichet Chum will lead us to the next moment. We are delighted to partner with UC Santa Barbara's Launch Pad in the development of Melinda's commission.”

After a year-long shutdown due to the pandemic, MRT relaunched in April of 2021 with Orlandersmith’s Until the Flood. One of America’s most distinctive voices, the Pulitzer Prize finalist (Yellowman) has received innumerable honors, including the Guggenheim Foundation Award, the Doris Duke Artists Award, and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her other plays include Beauty’s Daughter (OBIE Award), The Gimmick, and Monster. Learn more.

Chum, a Cambodian-American playwright and actor, premiered his autobiographical play, KNYUM, at MRT in 2018. He also appeared in the MRT productions of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley and The Haunted Life, and MRT recently produced developmental readings of Kween, his new piece about Lowell High School students. Chum’s other plays include The Boy Luck Club and High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest (recent Alley Theatre world premiere). This season Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago will premiere his latest, Bald Sisters. Learn more.

Lopez’s most recent plays include Mr. Parent at Lyric Stage Company of Boston and Young Nerds of Color at Central Square Theater. Also an actor and director, she is the current Artist in Residence at The Huntington Theatre. Lopez teaches at Boston University and Northeastern University, and she was the first recipient of The Kennedy Center’s Charlotte Woolard Award for being a “promising new voice in American theatre.” Her plays include Mala and Sonia Flew, both winners of the Elliot Norton Award. Learn more.

In May, MRT produced Kling’s Best Summer Ever to rave reviews. A playwright, author, storyteller, performer, recording artist, and longtime contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Kling tells his magical, hilarious, and tender stories through the lens of a proud Midwesterner, who was born with a congenital birth defect. His best known performance pieces include 21A, The Ice Fishing Play, and Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log. Kling is the recipient of the Whiting Award for American Drama and the National Storytelling Network's Circle of Excellence Award. Learn more.

A Cambodian American, Ung is an award-winning actress, singer, and interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. MRT will produce her autobiographical play, Letters from Home, in January. Her work ranges from Shakespeare to experimental theatre to contemporary opera. Kalean teaches the Barrantes Voice System at CalArts. She has also taught at California State University Los Angeles and the New York Film Academy. Learn more.