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Playwrights selected to inaugurate Antaeus Theatre Company’s ‘NEXT’ commissions

Antaeus Theatre Company has selected writers Zola Dee and Marlow Wyatt for the company’s inaugural NEXT Commissions, a new play development initiative for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) playwrights. The commissions were created to amplify historically underrepresented voices and to broaden the scope of the classical theater canon.

An artist-driven theater company, Antaeus believes in the power and importance of storytellers as architects of culture and stewards of history. The purpose of NEXT is to nurture an inclusive generation of writers and support the creation of extraordinary new plays that will stand the test of time. NEXT, which launches with the commissioning of Dee and Wyatt, offers financial, dramaturgical and logistical support for the development of original, full-length works inspired by or in response to classic plays or historical events and figures.

Together with the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, which was established in 2014, NEXT is part of the company’s dual-pronged New Classics Initiative. Two original works from the Lab, The Abuelas and Eight Nights, were produced as part of the company’s 2019-20 season. During 2020-21, Antaeus produced and shared Lab members’ original plays through the acclaimed audio series, The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles, which has been streamed over 60,000 times to-date. The goal is to produce NEXT-commissioned plays as part of an upcoming Antaeus season.

“We’ve been expanding our definition of “the classics” at Antaeus for many years now, having produced 20th century playwrights as well as new plays from our Lab,” note Antaeus artistic director Bill Brochtrup and producing executive director Ana Rose O’Halloran. “We’re excited to launch this new artistic initiative and thrilled to partner with Zola and Marlow, two extraordinary storytellers, as they craft these vital stories for the American theatrical canon.”

Zola Dee
Zola Dee is an L.A.-based emerging theater artist, poet and vocalist from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She believes her work has a strong responsibility to investigate trauma and how it is passed down generationally; the black psyche; mysticism; and ancient spirituality. Her most notable work, Gunshot Medley: Part 1, was Ovation award-recommended and published in Routledges Contemporary Plays by Women of Color. Dee was named by Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty as a front-runner in “a vibrant new era in African-American playwriting.” Other notable works include her one-woman show Rain, River, Ocean; African Hyphen American; and Smile, Goddamnit, Smile. Dee has been a member of Center Theatre Group’s Writer’s Workshop and the Skylight Theatre’s PlayLab. Other accomplishments include: 2017-2018 Core Apprentice at the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, where she was recently awarded the Many Voices Fellowship, and 2018 Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights Diversity Fellow. Currently, Zola serves as the artistic associate at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Marlow Wyatt
Actor and playwright Marlow Wyatt is a magna cum laude graduate of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts. Her plays include SHE, scheduled for a 2022 world premiere by L.A.’s Latino Theater Company; Robbin, from the Hood, a 2021 Eugene O’Neill semi-finalist developed in MADLab with Moving Arts; and Listen, A Black Woman Is Speaking, chosen for the Playwrights Union “Sneak Peek” live reading series. She is a featured playwright in “50IN50: Shattering The Glass Ceiling,” curated by Dominique Morriseau, and in Letters To Our Daughters at the Kumble and Billie Holliday Theaters in NYC and WACO Theater in L.A. Other produced plays include: Mourning of The Sons: Spirit LivesSweeties Confession; and Say Something. Marlow has received numerous honors as a playwright, arts activist and founder of the Girl Blue Project. She was recently lauded as a 2021 As We Grow We Sow artist by Support Black Theater. She is a 2018 Many Voices Fellowship finalist, a 2018 Howard Players honored alumna, 2016 CTG/Humanitas Playwrights Prize finalist, Long Beach Playhouse New Works winner, a  two-time Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Discretionary Grant recipient, Women In Theatre Red Carpet Award-winner, Pine-Sol/Ebony Magazine Powerful Difference Award-winner and Spirited Woman Grant recipient. As an actor, she appeared during the pandemic in the Zoom series Isolation Inn as Millie Baker, and as Bird Ivy in the Antaeus Zip Code series play 90011: South Central Los Angeles–Speakeasy. Pre-pandemic, Marlow performed the role of Arlene in the critically acclaimed Antaeus production of Eight Nights. Marlow is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild, Playwrights Union, Alliance for  Los Angeles Playwrights, Antaeus Playwrights Lab, AEA, SAG/AFTRA, D.I.V.A. Society  for Women in the Arts and most recently Moving Arts.

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