(Washington, D.C.) The Welders—Washington’s only playwrights’ collective devoted exclusively to developing and producing new plays—has received funding for artistic development of projects by individual artists Annalisa Dias, Rachel Hynes and Hannah Hessel Ratner, and the company has been awarded additional funding from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities specifically to support artistic development.
“One of the unique features of the Welders model is that it adapts with each generation of creators. Our generation ‘Welders 2.0’ has always been interested in extended creation processes, experimentation with form, and supporting not just productions, but all stages of creation,” said Acting Creative Producer Annalisa Dias. “To receive support for the work that goes into developing new plays is a tremendous vote of confidence in our mission. It’s also somewhat uncommon to have three separate funders make gifts specifically for artistic process. Many funders want to see a concrete product result from their grantmaking. We hope to see this kind of developmental funding, which allows artists and companies to take bold risks in creation, continue for not only us but for our peer institutions.”
Annalisa Dias has received a Global Connections On the Road grant from the Theatre Communications Group and a small grant from the American Scandinavian Association in DC to help cover the cost of travel to Norway to conduct research, build relationships, and lay much of the artistic groundwork for her play the earth, that is sufficient. With the Global Connections funding, she and collaborator DeLesslin George-Warren will embark on a residency and collaboration with the Sámi Center for Contemporary Art in northern Norway. They will speak with local indigenous communities experiencing the immediate direct effects of climate change, conduct research, and collect sounds. A play that Dias describes as “part theatre, part ritual, part epic journey,” the earth, that is sufficient will premiere with The Welders in fall 2019.
Financial resources to travel have also been awarded to Rachel Hynes through the Aurand Harris Grants & Fellowships of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Hynes will be using her award to travel to Vietnam to research water puppetry and explore how local stories affect family values. According to Hynes, “I’m thrilled to be expanding my work on storytelling, generational trauma and observing how personal narrative affects worldview. I’m particularly interested in asking these questions inside a story meant for family audiences.”
The Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas awarded Hannah Hessel Ratner with a Mark Bly Fellowship for the development of In This Hope: A Pericles Project, which will premiere in fall of 2018, and the exploration of “Dramaturg as Creator”. The grant will give Hessel Ratner the opportunity to focus on her process as she helms her Producing Playwright role through the lens of a dramaturg. “I discovered early on in In This Hope’s development that I couldn’t approach this retelling of Pericles as a playwright,” shares Hessel Ratner. “Being awarded this grant by peer dramaturgs provides more than just monetary support as I tackle new ground.” The award will also bring her to the LMDA conference in Toronto to share her process with other dramaturgs and literary managers.
“Receiving these grants really empowers the creator through all stages of production,” said Rachel Hynes, “the process affects the product, and the Welders are thrilled to see support for both aspects of the play-making process.” The grants will be used to support the many moving parts of the development process, and they reveal needs as distinct as the productions themselves — for workshops, play, and devising sessions; for travel, sound collection, and research and engagement with the indigenous population in a landscape deeply impacted by global climate change. The Welders are thrilled to receive support for these processes.
The next production by the Welders will be Brett Abelman’s “Switch” in June 2018, followed by “In This Hope” in the fall.