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New Works Initiative: Civics and Humanities for Non-Majors

Department of Theatre and Dance

By Jeff Talbott | Directed by Wes Grantom

A commission from Montclair State’s New Works Initiative, this adventurous new play dives into campus life in two different times (2016, days before the presidential election, and 1976) as two student-formed political action groups attempt to draft by-laws. Conflicts arise as they discover that defining a governing identity within any group requires more than patience; it may just require a miracle. With humor and crackling dialogue, the play tackles what may be today’s biggest question: Is it possible to find common ground when no one seems to be listening?


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Jeff Talbott’s play The Submission was the inaugural winner of the Laurents/Hatcher Award, given each year to an emerging playwright for writing challenging, topical American plays. The play was subsequently produced off-Broadway by MCC Theater, directed by Tony Award-winner Walter Bobbie and starred Jonathan Groff, Rutina Wesley, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Will Rogers. It went on to win the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Best New American Play. It has since been produced all over the country, and in 2014 a production in Chicago at Pride Films and Plays was named one of the best of 2014 by the Chicago Tribune. His play The Gravedigger’s Lullaby had its off-Broadway world premiere in March of 2017 by TACT at Theatre Row. His other plays include Three Rules for the Dragon, which had a workshop reading in June of 2016 at Premiere Stages and has had developmental readings at Premiere Stages, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Colt Coeur and MCC; it was a finalist for the 2016 O’Neill Playwrights Conference; i, which had a workshop in January of 2017 at Pioneer Theatre Company and will be produced there in February of 2018; Civics and Humanities for Non-Majors, which was commissioned by Montclair State University and will be produced there in April of 2018; A Public Education, which has had workshops/readings at Pioneer Theatre Company and off-Broadway’s TACT and was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill Playwrights Conference; All the Stars in the Midnight Sky, which also had a workshop at TACT; Elliot, which has had developmental readings at Crowded Outlet and MCC; and How to Build a City, which has had developmental readings at Route 66 Theatre and TACT. He lives in NYC, and writes musicals with Will Van Dyke. They are currently working on a commission for Grover Entertainment and Barbara Whitman Productions.

LCT:debut. Broadway as associate director: Annie, Brief Encounter, Waiting for Godot, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Off-Broadway as associate director: Merrily We Roll Along (Encores!), Toxic Avenger. Off-Broadway as director: Eager to Lose by Mat Smart (Slant Theatre Project). Upcoming: The Cloud by Matt Moses (Slant/HERE Arts Center). Drama League Fellowship, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, co-artistic director of Slant Theatre Project. Education: University of Evansville.