Alumni News, Awards and Honors

Gancher Receives Dorset Theatre Festival Commission

Sarah Gancher '01 has received a playwriting commission from Dorset Theatre Festival's newly launched Commissioning & Fellowship Program.

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Dorset Theatre Festival, led by Artistic Director and Bennington College faculty member Dina Janis, has announced the launch of its new Commissioning and Fellowship Program, welcoming returning director Jade King Carroll as Resident Artist, who will design and oversee this program in collaboration Janis. Carroll will also work with Janis in producing the Festival’s new StageFree Audio Plays.

The Commissioning and Fellowship Program has welcomed its first two Fellows, playwrights Jihan Crowther and Josh Wilder, who join the Festival’s Commissioned Playwrights, Cusi Cram and Sarah Gancher '01, in the launch of this innovative program. The Festival is excited to announce two additional commissions by renowned playwrights Chisa Hutchinson and Theresa Rebeck, the first of Dorset’s StageFree Audio Plays, scheduled for later this year.

“At this challenging time it seemed urgently important to bring theatre to people everywhere and anywhere, breaking down barriers and walls, while lifting up new, fierce, and inspired work as we boldly step forward with our community into a newly imagined future,” said Dina Janis, Artistic Director.

Jade King Carroll has worked as a director at the Festival over the past 3 years. Her interpretations of classical and new work have been seen at leading theatre institutions across the country including New York Theatre Workshop, Audible, McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Two River Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute, Playmakers Rep, Portland Stage, City Theatre, Perseverance Theater, Miami New Drama, Marin Theatre, Atlantic Theater, and Playwrights Realm, as well as serving as Associate Director for A Streetcar Named Desire and The Gin Game on Broadway. Jade has taught, guest lectured and directed extensively, including at Juilliard, Princeton, and NYU. Past awards and fellowships include: TCG New Generations Future Leader, New York Theatre Workshop, Van Lier, Second Stage Theatre, Women’s Project, McCarter Theatre, SUNY 40 under 40, Gates Millennium Scholar, and the Paul Green Award from the National Theatre Conference and The Estate of August Wilson.

“This fellowship is not about the product of a single play, but the support of an entire artist. As the
Festival plans for the future in this uncertain time, the one certainty is that theatre starts in the artist’s
mind, so we are investing in just that,” said Jade King Carroll, Resident Artist.

Dorset’s newly commissioned artists and the first class of Fellows will have the revolutionary opportunity to design their own goal-oriented programs of development. One objective of the program, according to Carroll, is to develop long-lasting relationships that benefit the playwrights, the Festival, and the American theatre at large.

Playwright Sarah Gancher’s writing has been seen on stages worldwide including London’s National Theatre, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Budapest’s Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Steppenwolf, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage, RoundHouse (DC), Seattle Rep, and Ars Nova. Recently, the online production of her play Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (directed by Jared Mezzocchi & Elizabeth Williamson with Theaterworks Hartford/Theatre Squared/The Civilians) was included in the New York Times’ Top 10 Theater of 2020 list.

“It is such a joy to receive this commission, with its invitation to dream big, to name what I need to create during COVID-19, and to create something that will resonate with Dorset's setting and audience. I won't say what I'm going to work on just yet—but I am so excited to stretch myself as both a writer and as a musician for Dorset!” said Sarah Gancher, commissioned playwright.

Gancher’s other honors include the Richard Rodgers Award, New York Stage and Film Founders’ Award, The Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Award, a Toulmin Foundation commission, several Lortel, Drama Desk, and Drama League nominations, and the AR Gurney Prize. She frequently collaborates on musicals, including Hundred Days and The Lucky Ones with The Bengsons and Anne Kauffman, and Mission Drift with Heather Christian, Rachel Chavkin, and The TEAM. Her work in the realm of large-scale spectacles includes partnerships with Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. An alumna of Ars Nova Play Group, WP Lab, P73, and The Playwrights’ Realm, she is a current resident at New Dramatists. She also plays jazz violin and received an MFA from NYU.

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