Submissions Now Being Accepted for Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre
The Theatre School at DePaul University is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre. Playwrights from the Chicagoland area and alumni of The Theatre School are eligible to apply, and the winner will be announced in June. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2019.
The Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre was established at The Theatre School to honor the memory of the Rev. Donald Cunningham, a Chicago priest, playwright, and lover of theatre. The Cunningham Commission was established by an endowment gift from the Cunningham family and is presented annually. The purpose of the commission is to encourage the writing of dramatic works for young audiences that affirm the centrality of religion, broadly defined, and the human quest for meaning, truth, and community. The Theatre School intends to produce the plays created through this commission in its award-winning Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series. Each year, Chicago Playworks produces three productions that are attended by over 30,000 young people and their families.
Candidates should submit
• A resume
• One sample of their playwriting work (no more than 20 pages). The writing sample may be from a play of any genre for any audience.
• A brief statement about their interest in the commission.
• A paragraph-length description of a possible project
The commission timeline is as follows:
• June 2019: Winner announcement and contract signing.
• September 3, 2019: Script treatment due on proposed project. Feedback will be collected from committee and given to playwright within four weeks.
• December 3, 2019: First draft due (payment upon delivery).
• February 3, 2020: Notes from Theatre School committee delivered to playwright.
• April 1, 2020: Second draft due (payment upon delivery).
• May 2020: Reading/Workshop, followed by discussion of draft.
• September 2, 2020: Third draft due (final payment upon delivery). Play will then be considered for the following year’s Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series.
The fee for the Cunningham Commission is $6000, with an additional fee provided if the play is produced as part of the Chicago Playworks series. The selection committee is chaired by Phil Timberlake, and is composed of members of the Cunningham Commission advisory committee and faculty of The Theatre School. Please send all entries to: Cunningham Commission Selection Committee, The Theatre School at DePaul University, 2350 N. Racine Avenue, Chicago, 60614. Questions and entries can also be sent to CunninghamCommission@depaul.edu.
Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate the renaming of the Dr. John R. and Joyce L. Watts Theatre on Tuesday, June 12th. It was yet another special moment in The Theatre School’s history.
The first performance in the Watts Theatre will be this Fall: She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen, directed by Damon Kiely.
Check out a few photos from the event!
Fullerton Stage at DePaul University to be Renamed Dr. John R. and Joyce L. Watts Theatre
Former Dean was Instrumental in Move of Goodman School of Drama to DePaul
The Theatre School at DePaul University announces its renaming the Fullerton Stage in recognition of John Ransford Watts, a former dean and artistic director, and his wife, Joyce, a former business consultant and academic administrator, for a generous gift to the school. A June ceremony is being planned to acknowledge the couple's philanthropy and unveil the 250-seat thrust theatre as the Dr. John R. and Joyce L. Watts Theatre.
Role in establishing The Theatre School at DePaul
In 1925, the department of drama at the Art Institute of
Chicago became the Goodman School of Drama. Five decades later, the trustees of
the Art Institute voted to phase out the school over a three-year period,
citing a $200,000 deficit. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and interested
citizens mounted a campaign to save the school.
DePaul acquired the Goodman School of Drama in 1978, establishing
it as the university’s ninth college. The next year, John Watts, a teacher,
designer, director and scholar, was recruited as dean and charged with
reestablishing the ailing school to restore its proud reputation, appoint a
faculty and acquire facilities. Over the next 20 years, Watts reshaped The
Theatre School at DePaul into one of the top conservatory theatre programs in
Under Watts’ guidance, The Theatre School has graduated
countless actors, designers, directors, technicians, playwrights, managers and
dramaturgs whose impact on the Chicago theatre landscape is immeasurable, according
to John Culbert, the current dean.“John Watts’ inspired leadership for the first two
decades of The Theatre School’s life at DePaul University built the foundation
upon which all that we now do rests. His work to secure the position of the
school within DePaul, attract high-quality staff and faculty, and develop
sophisticated curriculum made top 10 conservatory rankings, our new facilities,
and amazing alumni accomplishments possible,” Culbert said.“He continued the legacy of the Chicago Playworks for
Families and Young Audiences series, which has served nearly 1.2 million young
people since his arrival in 1979,” Culbert noted.
Many of the programs and activities Watts put in place
have become traditions at The Theatre School: remote auditions, annual touring
graduate showcases, and discussions with visiting artists. He also started the
Annual Awards for Excellence in the Arts in 1989, which has generated to date more
than $7 million for scholarships. In 1988 Watts was instrumental in
orchestrating DePaul’s acquisition of the historic Blackstone Theatre, now
known as the Merle Reskin Theatre, in Chicago’s South Loop.
John R. and Joyce
holds an undergraduate degree and a Master of Education degree from Boston
College, a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University, and a doctorate
from Union Graduate College. He has done post-graduate work at Harvard, UCLA
He has had a distinguished and productive association
with the arts, the humanities, and with education in Massachusetts, California
and Illinois. For 15 years he was on the faculty of the School for the Arts at
Boston University as Professor of Theatre, and for five years as associate
He was appointed as the founding chairman of the
Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, serving in that position for
In 1974, he accepted a one-year guest artist appointment
to the faculty of the School of Fine Arts at California State University, Long
Beach, which led to his becoming a tenured professor, associate dean, and then
dean of the school.
While in California, beyond academic leadership, he helped
found and served as director and vice president of the Public Corporation for
In 2000, John Watts received a lifetime achievement award
from the Joseph Jefferson Committee “for development and support of theatre
artists and the Chicago theatre community during his almost two decades as Dean
of the Theatre School/DePaul University.” That same year, he also received a
Via Sapientiae Award from DePaul University, its highest recognition for
excellent service and accomplishment.
has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and journalism from California State
University, Long Beach, and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern
She has 20 years of higher education experience and 22
years of business consulting experience. In addition to being a past president
of Chicago Women in Management, she is an active member and fundraiser for
P.E.O. International, a philanthropic organization that provides educational
opportunities for women.
Theatre School at DePaul
At the June ceremony, faculty, staff and friends will
recognize John and Joyce Watts and their longstanding leadership and financial contributions
to the establishment and growth of The Theatre School. In remarks, DePaul
President A. Gabriel. Esteban, Ph.D., will recognize the Watts for their most recent
generous gift as well as their 2006 scholarship endowment that supports
students in the playwriting program.The 250-seat thrust theatre and the 100-seat black box
Sondra A. and Denis Healy Theatre are center stage in the 165,000 square foot
artistic home of The Theatre School at the corner of Racine and Fullerton
avenues. The custom-designed five-story building, which debuted in fall 2013,
also houses classrooms; acting labs; scene shop; costume shop; new media
workshops; and makeup, paint and lighting laboratories.
The Theatre School at DePaul University trains students
to the highest level of professional skill and artistry in an inclusive and
diverse conservatory setting. Some 350 students are enrolled in undergraduate
programs that offer degrees in acting, costume design, costume technology,
lighting design, scene design, sound design, stage management, theatre
technology, dramaturgy/criticism, playwriting, theatre arts and theatre
Graduate programs offer degrees in acting, arts
leadership and directing. Many of the faculty and staff of some 100
professionals maintain their connections and artistic work in all aspects of Chicago's renowned and thriving theatre community.