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Voices at the River

Voices at the River Playwriting Residency

Voices at the River is a program designed to support African-American and Latino playwrights both nationally and in Arkansas. The program, funded by a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, includes a two-week playwrights' residency at The Rep, plus Legacy Awards recognizing an outstanding African-American and/or Latino playwright who has made a significant contribution to the national canon of theatrical literature.

The two-week Voices at the River playwrights' residency, which includes play development and readings, mentoring, critiques and panel discussions, is open to playwrights across the country. Participants work alongside directors, actors and Rep staff to refine their specific projects for the stage. Voices at the River also identifies, encourages, and mentors young, aspiring African-American and Latino playwrights in Arkansas. Play readings and panel discussions are open to the public.

The Voices at the River playwriting residency and festival is helmed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, producing artistic director for New York City’s Rebel Theatre Company. Maharaj has directed several Rep productions and is the lead artist for the creation of The Legacy Project, a two-year artistic event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

Voices at the River 2010
Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced in the summer of 2010 the playwrights chosen to participate in Voices at the River 2010, held at The Rep July 5 - July 18, 2010.

More than 50 previously un-produced plays were submitted from across the nation for The Rep’s second workshop and reading process. “We are pleased to see so much good work submitted for Voices at the River II,” said Robert Hupp, Arkansas Rep’s producing artistic director. “We’ve chosen for readings four plays that demonstrate the caliber of contemporary dramatic literature being created across the nation. Also selected for participation is a young Arkansan college student who will be mentored throughout the process by a professional team assembled for the development process.”

“I am thrilled that the Rep is continuing this unique program in the American Theatre. As an artist of color I have benefited from the Rep’s continuing support and guidance throughout my career and I am happy that these artists will have the same opportunity, ” said Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, producing artistic director for New York City’s Rebel Theatre Company, who is serving as project director for Voices at the River II.

The plays selected from the national arena were Solterona by Augusto Federico Amador, Wetback by Elaine Romero, Liddy’s Sammiches, Potions, and Baths by Tearrance Chisholm, and Roses in the Water by La’Chris Jordan.

Amador was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. In Los Angeles, his work has been presented at the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theater Projects, the Ricardo Montalban Theater, the John Anson Ford Theater and Playwrights Arena. In New York, his work has been presented at the Ensemble Studio Theater, Terra Nova Collective Theater, Repertorio Espanol and INTAR Theater. Currently, he is a finalist for the Emerging Writers Program at the Public Theater.

Romero is the Playwright-in-Residence at the Arizona Theatre Company and has taught at Linfield College and the University of Arizona. Romero’s plays have been developed and produced at such theatres as Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Magic Theatre, the Ford Amphitheatre, New Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Curious Theatre Company, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Urban Stages, INTAR, the Playwrights’ Center, Women’s Project and Productions, the Working Theater, Su Teatro, the Lark Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Borderlands Theater, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Miracle Theatre.

Chisholm is a new playwright from Columbia, Missouri. He received his Bachelors of Fine Arts, Graphic Design from the University of Missouri – Columbia in the spring of 2008 and is currently developing a graphic novel entitled “Black Boys in Outer Space”.

Jordan is an award-winning playwright who was named one of the ‘50 to Watch’ by the Dramatists Guild of America. Roses in the Water recently received a staged reading at the award-winning off-Broadway theatre Urban Stages in New York as part of their New Works for a New Season reading series. Jordan is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, the International Centre for Women Playwrights, and the Northwest Playwrights Alliance.

Michael Chavez, a sophomore at Hendrix College, has been selected as the Arkansas college student participant. As founder and president of the Hendrix Filmmakers Production Group at Hendrix College, Michael has produced and supervised his own short film ideas. He will receive mentorship from professional directors and dramaturges on his play, Waking Up to You, which will also be presented as a public reading during Voices at the River II.

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

In 1974, the trustees of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller’s estate endowed the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to continue the work of The Rockwin Fund. Governor Rockefeller set up The Rockwin Fund in 1954 and, on an annual basis from 1956 until his death in 1973, funded projects and programs he believed were important to improving the quality of life in Arkansas. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of Arkansans by funding programs and projects that improve education, economic development, and economic, racial and social justice. During the past 32 years, the foundation has awarded more than $101 million in grants. Additional information about the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation can be found on its website at

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