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Sam Chanse play premieres at Sloan Performing Arts Center

September 27, 2022
two student actors seated on a stage, both looking away from each other.From left: Cynthia Xiao ’24 and Jesika Barnes ’23 are among the student cast performing in the International Theatre Program's production of Fellowship, opening September 29. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Fellowship is the latest production commissioned by the International Theatre Program as part of an initiative supporting early-career playwrights.

The world premiere of Fellowship takes place at the University of Rochester’s Sloan Performing Arts Center. Commissioned by the International Theatre Program as part of its New Voice Initiative, the play was written by Sam Chanse and first developed during her artist residency at Rochester in 2019. Chanse is a New Dramatists resident playwright, a past fellow at MacDowell, Cherry Lane, Sundance Theatre Institute, and Playwrights Realm, and has taught writing and playwriting at Columbia University and New York University, in addition to Rochester.

Fellowship is the fifth production since 2005 to result from the New Voice Initiative, and was funded for 2019–22 by Natalie Hurst ’74.

The story, which incorporates elements of magical realism, revolves around a group of young college-age activists taking on an internship for a social justice organization, but the location they work from is haunted. “Sam Chanse’s play is funny, perceptive, and timely. It touches on themes of identity and privilege, which are a part of today’s cultural conversation,” says Nigel Maister, director of the International Theatre Program. “But it does so by keeping a refreshingly irreverent eye on the foibles and dynamics of liberal pieties while not neglecting to acknowledge the sometimes-fraught history that gave birth to the need for them in the first place.”

Fellowship is the fifth production since 2005 to result from the New Voice Initiative, and was funded for 2019–22 by Natalie Hurst ’74. The initiative, which brings early-career playwrights to Rochester to work with students, has funded past commissions including The Puzzle Locker by W. David Hancock, The Hairy Dutchman by Andy Bragen, The Rochester Plays by Spencer Christiano, and the musical Mother Courage and Her Children with music by Matt Marks.

“Commissioning new work for the theater is one of the most important things an academic institution can do,” says Maister. “I am thrilled we can bring this new work into the world.”

Fellowship opens September 29 and runs through October 8.



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Category: The Arts