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Playwrights James Fritz and Gary McNair commissioned by multimillion-pound Audible fund

James Fritz
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Playwrights Gary McNair and James Fritz are among the first writers selected to create new plays as part of a $5 million (£3.6 million) commissioning drive by US audiobook giant Audible.

Fifteen writers from across the globe have been commissioned to write original one or two-person audio plays, funded by Audible, which has dedicated the money to develop English-language works from theatre writers.

It will also give the playwrights access to resources such as creative workspace.

The audiobook seller announced the fund last year, and has committed to making the commissioned plays available to its listeners.

Audible reveals multimillion-pound fund for emerging playwrights

Scottish playwright McNair’s previous work includes the Fringe First award-winning Letters to Morrissey and Locker Room Talk, while Fritz’s plays include Four Minutes Twelve Seconds and Ross and Rachel.

Other playwrights in the first cohort include Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour, whose plays include White Rabbit Red Rabbit and 2017’s Nassim, as well as a number of US-based writers including Bridgette A Wimberly and Lauren Gunderson.

The group was chosen by Amazon-owned Audible, in collaboration with an advisory board that includes figures such as playwright Tom Stoppard, actor Annette Bening, Oskar Eustis, who is artistic director of New York’s Public Theater, and writers David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage.

In addition to the commissions, Audible’s fund will support live and in-studio recordings of new plays, which will then be made available to Audible listeners. The first of these will be Latin History for Morons, which is currently running on Broadway, and Off-Broadway play Harry Clarke, which ran last year.

Audible’s head of theatre Kate Navin described the first cohort of writers as an “incredible impressive first class of exciting and diverse playwrights”, adding: “Offering these productions on Audible will bring these plays to millions of people as incomparable listening experiences.”

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