Atlantic Theater Company Announces Judith Champion Launch Commissions from Isabelle Barbier, Shayan Lotfi & a.k. payne
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 07:14 pm EST 01/25/23

Atlantic Theater Company Announces the
Judith Champion Launch Commissions
for 2023

with commissions from
Isabelle Barbier, Shayan Lotfi &
a.k. payne

Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) is proud to announce its Judith Champion Launch Commissioning Program writers for 2023, Isabelle Barbier, Shayan Lotfi and a.k. payne. The Judith Champion Launch Commissioning Program offers early career playwrights, support of writing a new play and facilitating relationships in the theater industry.

Launch Commission Program Underwriter Judith Champion sadly passed away last year. She was a fierce advocate for theater and wanted to leave a legacy of support for new voices so that American theater will thrive for generations to come.

Atlantic's Artistic Director, Neil Pepe added, " We are very excited about this round of commissioned playwrights who came to us in a variety of ways: Isabelle is an alumna of Atlantic Acting School, Shayan wrote a short play commission for our recent First Gen MixFest, and we were introduced to a.k.'s work by both an Atlantic alumnus and an Atlantic produced playwright. Building this kind of artistic community ensures a vibrant theater for the future as Judith Champion envisioned it."

All of Atlantic's new play and musical development activities are made possible, in part, by leadership support from the Howard Gilman Foundation and The Tow Foundation, with additional funding from the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Barbara Bell Cumming Charitable Trust, the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Atlantic productions and programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature.


Isabelle Barbier (she/her) moved to New York City to study theater at the Atlantic Acting School. After graduating she realized that there was a major lack of compelling parts for women out there, so she decided to write some of her own. Her plays have been featured at Dixon Place, A.R.T., and The New York Fringe. Most recently Isabelle starred in the feature film CRSHD which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and can now be streamed on Hulu. She is currently working on a draft of Guts- a screenplay that was a finalist for the WIF Blacklist Residency, Quarter Finalist for the Academy Nicholls Fellowship, and WINNER at SF Indie Fest. A workshop of her play Rip Her to Shreds premiered at Ars Nova Ant Fest in June 2022, and she is beyond excited to be reunited with Atlantic Theater Company now as a playwright.

Shayan Lotfi (he/him) has written some plays and thankfully still wants to write. He's been fortunate enough that a number of wonderful institutions have supported and developed his work, including MacDowell, The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, Atlantic Theater, Roundabout Theatre, South Coast Repertory, The Lark, Marble House, Millay, and Boston Court. In addition to writing, he also works as an urban planning consultant.

a.k. payne (she/they) is a playwright, artist-theorist, and theatermaker with roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her plays love on and engage Black lives and languages beyond the confines of linear time to find/remember stories that might create conditions for our collective liberation(s). They hold a B.A. in English and African-American Studies from Yale College and are currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting under Tarell Alvin McCraney from Yale School of Drama. Their work has been finalist for the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award, winner of the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, and 3x semi-finalist for the O'Neill National Playwriting Conference. She is the current recipient of the Kemp Powers Commission Fund for Black Playwrights and their work has been developed with the New Harmony Project, Great Plains Theater Conference, and Manhattan Theater Club's "Groundworks Lab." In February 2023, a.k. makes their Off-Broadway debut with: Amani produced by National Black Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. They are a proud graduate of public schools; grandchild of the Great Migration; descendant of a music teacher and a carpenter, who both march every year with their unions in Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade; a queer & non-binary abolitionist affected by the ‘New Jim Crow;" and of a great lineage of Black women storytellers and living-room archivists; all of which deeply informs, uplifts and amplifies their work as a playwright, community organizer and spacemaker.

ATLANTIC THEATER COMPANY (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director). At Atlantic, our aim is singular—to empower simple and honest storytelling that fosters greater understanding of our shared world. We are a family of artists dedicated to exploring essential truths onstage, be it a show at Atlantic Theater Company or a class at Atlantic Acting School. As a producer, presenter, and educator of theater, we are driven by the belief that theater can challenge and transform our ways of thinking and urge us to reflect on our role in society. From our Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning productions to our community-based education programs, we are committed to uncovering and celebrating the stories of our varied human existence. Founded as an ensemble of impassioned artists in 1985, Atlantic Theater Company has grown into a powerhouse Off-Broadway company. We challenge, inspire, and awaken audiences with truthful storytelling presented across our two venues, the Linda Gross Theater and the intimate Stage 2 black-box. As a producer of compelling new works, we are committed to championing the stories from new and established artists alike, amplifying the voices of emerging playwrights through our deeply collaborative programs and initiatives. We have produced more than 200 plays and musicals including Tony Award-winning productions of The Band's Visit (David Yazbek, Itamar Moses), Spring Awakening (Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik), and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh); Pulitzer Prize recipient Between Riverside and Crazy (Stephen Adly Guirgis); New York Drama Critics' Circle winners for Best New Play The Night Alive (Conor McPherson) and Best Foreign Play Hangmen (Martin McDonagh); Obie Award winners for Best New American Play Guards at the Taj and Describe the Night (Rajiv Joseph); Obie Award Special Citation recipient Skeleton Crew (Dominique Morisseau); Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award and Lucille Lortel Award winner English (Sanaz Toossi); and New York Drama Critics' Circle, Drama Desk Award, and Lucille Lortel Award winner for Best New Musical Kimberly Akimbo (David Lindsay-Abaire, Jeanine Tesori) .

Link http://atlantictheater.org

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