Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts today announced that playwright Matthew Lopez, author of this past season's The Whipping Man, will be the 2012-13 Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. The announcement comes on the heels of former Aetna Fellow Quiara Alegria Hudes winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in April.
Tresnjak said, "Ever since reading Matthew's breakthrough play, The Whipping Man, I have been dazzled by the reach of his imagination, his ability to generate genuine suspense on stage, and by his capacity to write plays that are both intimate and epic. I am very happy to welcome him to Hartford Stage as our next Aetna New Voices fellow."
"Aetna is pleased to once again support Hartford Stage's New Voices Fellows," states Floyd W. Green, III, Aetna Vice President and head of Community Relations and Urban Marketing. "Through our collaboration, we have been able to showcase emerging talents, who have entertained audiences and inspired arts communities across this great nation. This year having Matthew Lopez as the Aetna New Voices Fellow is no different. We are excited to experience his work, and we look forward to another engaging Hartford Stage season."
A longtime resident of Brooklyn, 35-year-old Lopez hails from Florida, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Dramatic Performance at the University of Southern Florida. Proud of his mixed Puerto Rican and Polish/Russian heritage, his most recent projects include the world premiere of Somewhere at The Old Globe in San Diego and his adaptation of the film Mad Hot Ballroom, which will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell.
In recent years, The Whipping Man has become one of the more regularly-produced new American plays. Its New York production garnered Lopez the John Gassner Playwriting Award by the Outer Critics Circle. His other plays include Reverberation, Zoey's Perfect Wedding, and The Legend of Georgia McBride.
Quiara Alegria Hudes, the 2008-09 Aetna New Voices Fellow, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Water by the Spoonful, also produced at Hartford Stage this past season. Beginning in January, Hartford Stage will premiere Breath and Imagination: The Story of Roland Hayes by 2007-08 Fellow Daniel Beaty. Poet and playwright Marcus Gardley, author of Every Tongue Confess and dance of the holy ghosts, served as the 2011-12 Fellow.
A season-long engagement, the Aetna New Voices Fellowship provides an artistic home for important playwrights of color to develop work and become involved in the ongoing life of Greater Hartford. The residency includes working with Hartford Stage's education department, advancing community development, and the commissioning of a new work, as well as a series of readings and workshops throughout the year.
Marking its eighth year as the sole funder of this essential program, Aetna, Inc., builds healthy communities by promoting volunteerism, forming partnerships, and funding initiatives to improve the quality of life for its employees and customers.