jakub | September 13, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | TheatreSquared Announces 3 New Commissions


Satya Chavéz, Candrice Jones, Jonathan Norton.

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK.: TheatreSquared (T2) has announced an ambitious commissioning project featuring three distinguished playwrights: Satya Chavéz, Candrice Jones, and Jonathan Norton. With this project, TheatreSquared will forge important relationships while working toward the goal of bringing diverse stories to the forefront of American theatre. As part of the project, each playwright will embark on a creative journey to craft a new original play exploring an array of themes, perspectives, and experiences.

“Theatres like T2, which center new work, are always looking for the next Death of a Salesman, or the next brilliant comedy or soaring musical, that captures some essential aspect of now,” said T2 artistic director Robert Ford in a statement. “Because, deep down, we know that’s the very best thing we can offer to our world. Commissioning allows us to get in on the ground floor of that ‘offer to our world.’ Absolutely no one can predict the impact of a particular play or playwright—but what an amazing privilege it is to send the invitation, take the risk, and spark the telling of a story that no one has told before, that no one has seen.”

“New works are core to the growth of the American theatre,” said T2 executive director Shannon Jones in a statement. “Uplifting voices and stories for our communities to engage with keeps our conversations lively and our connections meaningful. We live in an ever shifting world, and playwrights who capture those moments that are ever so timely help to push us forward and stay connected to the moment.”

Added T2 director of new-play development, Dexter J. Singleton, in a statement, “We’ll hopefully have a continued relationship with these writers throughout their careers, with a potential impact on theatere as a whole, as these plays are performed on stages around the world—hopefully for years to come.”

Satya Chavéz is an Indigenous Mexican American, queer, Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist known for their powerful musical compositions and narratives delving into complex cultural intersections. Chavez’s award-winning work has garnered critical acclaim for its exploration of identity, immigration, and social justice; the San Francisco Chronicle called them “a quintuple threat performer,” while the Chicago Reader said their work is “stunningly beautiful, both visually and aurally.” Last season, they were the recipients of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Original Music in a Play for Refuge.

Candrice Jones is well known to Northwest Arkansas audiences, who watched her critically acclaimed play Flex bloom at the Arkansas New Play Festival in 2021 and, later, receive a full production during the 2021/2022 season. Earlier this summer, Flex was performed on the Lincoln Center stage in NYC, where it was called a “slam-dunk New York debut” and named a “Critic’s Pick” by The New York Times. Jones’s background as a poet, educator, and playwright combine to create sharp, beautiful, realistic worlds and characters in plays that sear both mind and spirit.

Jonathan Norton is a Texas-born playwright whose play Mississippi Goddamn exploded onto the theatre scene to wide acclaim—Broadway World called it “a force to be reckoned with.” Northwest Arkansas audiences will remember him from the 2023 Arkansas New Play Festival, where his hilariously poignant script I Am Delivered’T was workshopped. That show for a co-production at both Dallas Theater Center and the Actors Theatre of Louisville early next year. With a knack for blending humor and moving social commentary, Norton’s plays frequently shed light on the lives of marginalized communities, highlighting both their struggles and triumphs.

TheatreSquared’s has grown into its state’s largest theatre, offering more than 350 performances annually in an intimate setting, and having launched more than 70 new plays in its time by the likes of Bryna Turner, the Kilbanes, Sarah Gancher, José Cruz Gonzales, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Qui Nguyen, Mona Mansour, Amy Evans, and many others. TheatreSquared’s home has won numerous architectural awards. As of 2022, its budget was around $7.2 million.

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