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2017 Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission Artists Announced

Lucy Thurber receives The Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission.

Jenna Worsham receives the Lee Strasberg Directing Fellowship.

The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute (LSTFI) with The Lee Strasberg Creative Center in collaboration with NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Undergraduate Department of Drama will present a new work by playwright, Lucy Thurber, this year’s recipient of The Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission, May 3-6th at the Marilyn Monroe Theater in New York City.

The Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission is an annual playwriting commission that encourages emerging playwrights to write original works for large ensembles of emerging actors. Through this commission, LSTFI and The Lee Strasberg Creative Center partners with emerging playwrights, directors and The Lee Strasberg Method™ trained actors and encourages “the synergy of great acting with the development of new works. This commission will provide an incubating space for the development of true ensemble plays in New York City and develop the next generation of collaborating artists.”

Lucy Thurber

Lucy Thurber writes East Coast Curriculum. A modern day riff on Arthur Schnitzer’s LA Ronde with liberal arts college as the theme. A play about love, sex, politics, feminism, friendship, family and the fear, extascy and absurdity of being young.

Lucy Thurber is the author of twelve plays: Where We’re Born, Ashville, Scarcity, Killers and Other Family, Stay, Bottom of The World, Monstrosity, Dillingham City, The Locus, Perry Street, The Insurgents and Transfers.

Transfers will receive its New York premier next season off-Broadway, and was part of The New York Stage and Film 2016 Powerhouse Season. In the summer of 2016, her play Orpheus in The Berkshires premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival. The Insurgents was produced in 2015 at Labyrinth Theater Company, as well as the Contemporary American Theater Festival.

Her Obie-award-winning five play cycle The Hill Town Plays was produced off-Broadway by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, in conjunction with The Cherry Lane, The Axis Theater, and The New Ohio Theatre. The Atlantic Theater has produced her play Bottom of the World, as well as the world premier of Scarcity. The Lucy wrote the text for QUIXOTE, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, a site-specific performance with the Psalters made for and with The Broad Street Community. Also with Lear deBessonet and produced by 13P, Monstrosity. Lucy is published by Dramatists Play Service. She is an alumni of New Dramatists, a member of 13P, Labyrinth Theater, Rising Phoenix Rep and New Neighborhood. She recently spent an amazing time with Sundance Theatre at UCROSS in Wyoming.

Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, Yale Repertory, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Houses on The Moon, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and A.C.T. She is the recipient of Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, the first Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting, an Obie Award, and a proud recipient of a LILLY Award.


Jenna Worsham is a freelance stage director and activist, based in New York City, with a focus on new work and radically inclusive, re-imagined American classics.

Broadway: The Heidi Chronicles (Associate Director); Picnic (SDCF Observership).

Recent Directing: The Siblings Play by Ren Dara Santiago (Cherry Lane Theatre, 2017 Mentor Project); Street Children by Pia Scala-Zankel (New Ohio Theatre, NY Times Critics’ Pick); Have You Been There by Emily Zemba and The First Immigrant by Martyna Majok (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Invincible Ones by Samantha Cooper (Signature Center/Columbia MFA Thesis Production); Balm in Gilead (Lee Strasbourg Institute); Here to Be Seen (Social Justice piece featuring formerly incarcerated women, commissioned by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson); Kids by Daniel Talbott (IRT); The Vagina Monologues for Taconic Correctional Facility (also performed off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theatre); Graduation Day by Emily Daly (WorkShop Theater); Spring Awakening (Lime Kiln Theater). As founding Artistic Director of The Middle Voice Theater Company, in residence at Rattlestick Theater, she directed Agnes (Rattlestick), Bus Stop (The Producer’s Club), Room For One (Paradise Factory), and Waiting for Lefty in a production that toured to public locations in NYC and the tri-state area.

Jenna has been an assistant director on and off-Broadway to such directors as Tony-award winner Pam MacKinnon, Sam Gold, Evan Cabnet, Kate Whoriskey, as well as PublicWorks director Lear deBessonet. She has directed readings and workshops for The Public, Yale Repertory, the Lark Play Development Center, Labyrinth Theater, Playmakers Rep, Primary Stages, Cherry Lane, Rattlestick, MCC, The Flea, among others. Throughout her time in New York Jenna has been awarded a Jonathan Alper Directing Fellowship (MTC), and two SDC Foundation Observerships. Jenna is a proud member of the LILLY Awards Power Network, the Williamstown Directing Corps, Rising Phoenix Repertory, The Actors Studio Directors Unit, the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and an Affiliated Artist of New Georges. She also serves as Co-founder of the Creative Solutions Symposium, a residency program at SPACE on Ryder Farm that houses social justice organizations and human rights advocates. Associate member, SDC.

Featuring: LSTFI students, Athina Boutari Lalaouni, Zoe Chien, Daniel Foster, Laura Holland, Nick Koukas, Alice Mackay, Ruth-Angela Ofrasio, Sam Permar, Isabella Isacane, Damian Quinn, Karthik Rajashekar, and Kristen Vaganos.

The Marilyn Monroe Theatre is located at 115 Lee Strasberg Way (East 15th Street). For more information, visit or call 212.533.5500.