Barrington Stage Company Awards Spark Grants

Intended to Spark New Work

By: - Dec 09, 2020

Barrington Stage Company (BSC), is pleased to announce the first round of Spark Grants of $2,500 each to eleven artists with whom Barrington Stage Company has either collaborated with on past work or looks forward to collaborating with in the future. Each recipient was awarded the grant under the single condition that the money be used to spark the artist’s creativity.

“In these uncertain times, we know that many artists are struggling not only financially but also artistically,” commented Julianne Boyd. “We are addressing both of these challenges by awarding these grants to artists to spark their creativity, either for a new project or to continue working on an existing one.”

The following artists have received Spark Grants:

    Director/Choreographer Camille A. Brown (Upcoming - BSC: Ain’t Misbehavin’; Broadway: Choir Boy, Once on This Island; Off-Broadway: For Colored Girls…; Film: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

    Playwright Joe Calarco (BSC: Ragtime, Breaking the Code; Published work: In the Absence of Spring, Walter Cronkite is Dead)

    Playwright-Lyricist Sara Cooper (BSC: The Memory Show; NY: Elevator Heart, Fault Lines)

    Composer Jenny Giering (BSC: Gertrude and Claudius; Regional: Saint-Ex, Alice Bliss)

    Activist, Professor and Playwright Keelay Gipson (NY & Regional: The Red and the Black, imagine sisyphus happy, #NEWSLAVES, Mary/Stuart)

    Actor, Writer and Art-ivist Daniel K. Isaac (BSC: The Chinese Lady; NY & Regional: The Hope Project, Quiet Love, Fullerton, Once Upon A (korean) Time)

    Playwright Donja R. Love (Off-Broadway: soft, one in two, Fireflies, Sugar in Our Wounds)

    Actor, Singer, Writer and Composer Grace McLean (BSC: Mr Finn’s Cabaret; Broadway: Natasha, Pierre…; Off-Broadway: In the Green; Tour: Grace McLean & Them Apples)

    Director and Choreographer Jeffrey Page (BSC: Company, Broadway Bounty Hunter; Broadway: Violet; Upcoming: 1776)

    Composer, Actor and Writer Joël René Scoville (2&1, The Long Way Home; Webseries: “Crazy with a K!”)

    Singer-songwriter Niko Tsakalakos (BSC: Fall Springs, Pool Boy; Regional: Off the Map,)

The Spark Grants are made possible through the generous support of the Sydelle Blatt New Works Commissioning Program.


Camille A. Brown. Director/Choreographer. Broadway: Choir Boy (Tony & Drama Desk Nominee), Once on This Island (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Chita Rivera Nominee), A Streetcar Named Desire. Off Broadway: For Colored Girls… (Public, Drama Desk, Lortel Nominee), Porgy and Bess (Metropolitan Opera), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare in the Park, Audelco Award), Toni Stone (Roundabout, Audelco, Lortel Nominee), Bella (Playwrights Horizons, Lucille Lortel Nominee, Audelco Award), Fortress of Solitude (Lucille Lortel Nominee), Tick, Tick... Boom! (Encores!). Regional: The Wiz (MUNY), ink at The Kennedy Center (Premiere), Stagger Lee (Dallas), Once (Pittsburgh CLO). Television: “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” (NBC). Film: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix). 

Joe Calarco. BSC: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (book writer, Chris Miller music, Nathan Tysen lyrics). Published work includes In the Absence of Spring, Shakespeare’s R&J (Lucille Lortel Award), Walter Cronkite is Dead, Winter Break and Signature in the Schools Volumes 1&2. Adaptations include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Shakespeare Theater Company) and Antigone Renewed (developed at London’s National Theater). Other produced work: A Measure of Cruelty (Mosaic Theatre, Carbonell Award nomination), Isolated Incidents and Watershed (Expanded Arts Inc), Separate Rooms (4615 Theatre), The Audience (The Transport Group). He was resident playwright at Expanded Arts, is one of New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Sara Cooper is a playwright-lyricist. Recent highlights: HoT: Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Grove, Goodspeed Musicals (2020), New York Theatre Barn New Works Series (2020); Perpetual Sunshine: The Ghost Girls, 5X15, Beck Center/Baldwin Wallace (2021), NAMT 15-Minute Challenge Winner (2020); “Polyanna”: TV pilot, Grand Jury Prize, BOLT, Barnstorm Media (2020); Breakfast: Lowbrow Opera Collective (2020); The Memory Show: Benefit Reading: Alzheimer’s Association Chicago (2019), New Bard-London (2016), Transport Group- Off Broadway (2013), WaterGateMedia-Seoul (2012-2013), Barrington Stage Company (2010), NAMT (2010); Elevator Heart: Moxie Arts (2019), USF (2018), Tisch New Musicals (2016); Fault Lines, Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera (2018). Jonathan Larson Grant recipient (2014). MFA Graduate Musical Theatre Writing, NYU. DG, ASCAP.

Jenny Giering is a two-time winner of the Weston Playhouse New Musical Award for Saint-Ex and Alice Bliss and the two-time winner of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Tilles Music Chair for her incidental scores. Most recently, she composed the music for BSC’s Gertrude and Claudius. Her commissions include Alice Bliss (Playwrights Horizons) and Summerland (Chicago Shakespeare). She has also been the recipient of the Klinsky Prize (2nd Stage) and Jonathan Larson Award. She has participated in residencies at The Orchard Project, TheatreWorks Writers’ Retreat, Rhinebeck Writers’ Retreat, Goodspeed’s Mercer Colony and the Weston Playhouse Writers’ Retreat. She’s currently working on a one-woman show about her journey with chronic illness, What We Leave Behind, which had its first public showing last summer at Theater Aspen’s Solo Flights Festival.

Keelay Gipson is an activist, professor and playwright whose plays include The Red and the Black (The Lark Studio Retreat), imagine sisyphus happy (Finalist; Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, P73 Summer Residency); #NEWSLAVES (Finalist; Princess Grace Award, The O’Neill); The Lost, Or How to Just B (Kernodle New Play Prize) and Mary/Stuart (BAM Next Wave Festival). His work has been developed at Victory Gardens, the Wild Project, HERE Arts Center, The National Black Theater, Rattlestick Theater, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop. He is the recipient of New York Stage and Film’s Founders’ Award, the Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists. Fellowships/Residencies: Lambda Literary, Page 73, Dramatist Guild Foundation and Playwrights’ Realm, NYC Cultural Affairs Dept., MacDowell Colony.

Daniel K. Isaac is a queer Korean American actor, writer and art-ivist based in New York City. BSC: The Chinese Lady. His plays include The Hope Project, Quiet Love (co-written with John McGinty), Fullerton (2020 O’Neill Finalist), Once Upon A (korean) Time (2019 O’Neill Finalist), [untitled gay sex and conversion therapy play] (commissioned by Ma-Yi with generous support from the NEA), and Or Or Or &&& (available as a podcast recording on The Parsnip Ship). TV: "According To My Mother" (Searchlight Pictures). Development at Ma-Yi Theater Company, NYTW, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Page73’s Interstate73, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood, Queens Theatre, The Tank, TheatreC, Leviathan Lab and Lambda Literary. Training: UCSD, BADA.

Donja R. Love (he/him/his) is Black, Queer, HIV-Positive, and thriving. A Philly native, his work examines the forced absurdity of life for those who identify as Black, Queer, and HIV-positive and challenge the white supremacist, heteronormative structures that exist in American culture. He's the recipient of the Antonyo's inaugural Langston Hughes Award, the Helen Merrill Award, the Laurents/Hatcher Award, and the Princess Grace Playwriting Award. He's the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that builds community and provides visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ+ People of Color. He’s the creator of Write It Out – a playwrights’ program for writers living with HIV. Plays include soft (MCC), one in two (The New Group), Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), and Sugar in Our Wounds (Manhattan Theatre Club, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Nominations).

Grace McLean is an actor, singer, writer and composer. Broadway: Natasha, Pierre… (also Off Broadway, ART). Off Broadway: New Group, MCC, LCT3, Public, Vineyard, La MaMa, among others. “Grace McLean & Them Apples” performed in the 2015 and 2016 seasons of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, and Grace toured Pakistan and Russia as an artistic ambassador with the US State Department. 2017 Emerging Artist Award Lincoln Center; 2020 Civilians R&D Group; Lincoln Center Theater Writer-In-Residence where her original musical In the Green was commissioned and produced, earning McLean a Lucille Lortel Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical, and the 2020 Richard Rodgers Award. 

Jeffrey Page’s BSC credits include Company and Broadway Bounty Hunter (Berkshire Theatre Award). An Emmy Award-nominated director and choreographer, he spearheaded the 2015 and 2018 Tokyo productions of the musical Memphis, which received four Yomiuri Award nominations, including Best Musical. He was the first African American to be named the Marcus Institute Fellow for Opera Directing at The Juilliard School. Mr. Page won an MTV Video Music Award for his work with Beyoncé. Mr. Page was a featured choreographer on Fox Television’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” He worked alongside Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori to choreograph the hit Broadway musical Violet starring Sutton Foster (Roundabout Theatre Company). Jeffrey holds an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University in New York City, and serves as a lecturer at Harvard University and The Juilliard School. Currently, as co-director and choreographer, he is working with Diane Paulus and the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University to mount the Broadway revival of 1776.

Joël René Scoville. Joël’s original works include the musicals 2&1 (composer, Jenna Gillespie Byrd) and The Long Way Home. 2&1 will have a residency through AMPLIFY Voices for New Musicals Inc. in 2021. She was script consultant on the tv pilot “Nicki, Esq.” for Nail-Biter Productions, and created and starred in “Crazy with a K!”, a web series about her mental health struggles: Joël is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, The Dramatists Guild of America and the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. She has three grown sons, loves K-Pop and is a liberal Black Mormon… seriously.

Niko Tsakalakos is a singer-songwriter who straddles the rock/pop and theatre world. His climate-change musical, Fall Springs, received its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company in 2019 and appeared in the 2017 NAMT Festival of New Musicals. Other musicals include: Off the Map, inspired by the life of Christopher McCandless, produced at Encore Musical Theatre (Michigan), developed by La Vie productions; Pool Boy, premiered at BSC, with productions at the Provincetown Playhouse and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s Spark Festival. Awards include Sundance Institute Composer Fellow, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony (Goodspeed), Jonathan Larson Grant and Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre Finalist, Ars Nova's Uncharted Series, AntFest, ASCAP Plus Award, Vineyard Arts Project, Playwrights Center Writing Grant, the Barry Manilow Writing Lyrics that Succeed and Endure award. He has an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.