In addition to preparing young people to become better theatre artists and knowledgeable audience members, the Educational Theatre Association nourishes the dramatic canon by publishing scripts, developing student writing, and commissioning new works. The organization has commissioned a new work and presented its premiere at the annual International Thespian Festival every year since 2012. Previous commissions have included Stephen Gregg’s The New Margo (2012), Erica Saleh’s Before You Go (2013), Nicholas Pappas’ Including Shooter (2014), Lindsey Price’s The Exile and the Onion Girl (2015), and Judy GeBauer’s The Presence of Lucy Driscoll (2016).
The 2017 commission, sponsored by Dramatists Play Service, is Sisters on the Ground by Max Posner, a Thespian alum from Denver School of the Arts and a graduate of Brown University and the Juilliard playwriting program. Posner made his New York debut in 2015 with Judy at New Ohio Theatre. His other plays have been developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Atlantic Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Theater Workshop, Soho Rep, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Sisters on the Ground began its development at Playwrights Horizons Theater School. This play with music is set in 1825 on a patch of dirt in the Northeast and features six sisters, some neighbors, a fire, the stars, and cholera (maybe).
“Dramatists Play Service is thrilled to sponsor the 2017 Educational Theatre Association’s Commissioned Play Project,” DPS President Peter Hagan said, “and we are particularly happy that DPS playwright Max Posner has been selected by EdTA for this honor. We look forward to a new play from Max which will be produced in schools across the country.”
Aaron Dean will direct the staged reading at this year’s International Thespian Festival. Dean has worked at Dubuque (Iowa) Senior High School since 2004, serving as the school’s drama director and speech coach as well as the secretary for the Iowa Thespian Board. In 2015, he was one of the Dubuque Community School District’s Teacher of the Year finalists.