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Kate Snodgrass wins Huntington fellowship

Artistic director of BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre one of four recipients

Kate Snodgrass (GRS'90), artistic director of BU's Boston Playwrights' Theatre. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Some fellowships open doors for writers, but a Huntington Playwriting Fellowship is opening desk drawers for Kate Snodgrass. Over the years she’s stashed away several unfinished works, and now she’s dusting some of them off.

“It’s exciting for me to pull out the plays and work on them after all this time,” says Snodgrass (GRS’90), artistic director of BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. “Who knows what’s in the cards? The Huntington Theatre Company wants to give us space and time to explore. The onus is to write whatever we want to write.”

And deciding what that is, according to Snodgrass, is not as easy as it sounds.

“I’m looking at an older play of mine about an astronomer,” she says. “I also have a play about art forgery that I consider a love story.” Then again, says the playwright, she might make some changes to The Glider, which she originally wrote as a one-act radio play, then expanded for a 2004 Boston Playwrights’ Theatre production. “The Glider evolved from a shorter piece that I had put in a drawer some years ago,” she says. The family drama is receiving a public reading this month with the New Jersey Repertory Company.

The Huntington Theatre Company, in residence at BU, recently named Snodgrass a member of its 2006–2007 Huntington Playwriting Fellows program. Also receiving fellowships are Cambridge resident Lydia Diamond, Rebekah Maggor of Somerville, and John Shea (GRS’02), who, like Snodgrass, graduated from the GRS Creative Writing Program.

The fellowship program provides a supportive, structured environment for local playwrights to explore their writing and benefit from access to the company’s artistic staff. The fellows receive formal commissions from the Huntington’s Calderwood Fund for New American Plays.

This is the second group of playwrights to go through the program. The 2004 inaugural group of Huntington Playwriting Fellows comprised Melinda Lopez (GRS’00), John Kuntz (GRS’05), Sinan Unel (GRS’00), and Ronan Noone (GRS’01) — all graduates of the Creative Writing Program. Sonia Flew, Lopez’s drama about a woman who fled Castro’s Cuba as a teenager, was written during her fellowship and was the first play staged at the Boston Center for the Arts’ new Calderwood Pavilion. The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald both gave it rave reviews.

“The Fellows program is a key part of the Huntington’s larger mission to support and develop local theater artists,” says Ilana Brownstein, Huntington Theatre Company literary manager. “The first group of playwrights included artists of whom we were already aware, but this year we looked deeper to find artists whose work was not as well known here.”

For Snodgrass, whose work has been primarily as a director, the change is welcome. “Running a theater is time-consuming, and I have a passion for helping other writers,” she says, “but it’s really great to be given a chance to support my own writing.”