Audiobook platform Audible is launching a $5m (£3.89m) transatlantic theatre grant in order to "further its commitment to supporting emerging talent" in the creative arts.
Working with an advisory board of playwrights and actors, including Sir Tom Stoppard and Annette Bening, Audible will dedicate the $5m fund to commissioning and developing English-language works by emerging playwrights around the world.
The fund will support the creation of one and two-person audio plays driven by language and voice, in keeping with Audible’s core commitment to "elevating listening experiences through powerful performances of well-composed words". Audible is to start soliciting submissions for fund grants "immediately".
Andy Gaies, Audible’s chief content officer, said: “For two decades, Audible has embraced, celebrated and worked to elevate the artful performance of well-composed words. Today we extend that commitment to the world of theater, and to talented playwrights whose words ought to be heard in performance by gifted actors.”
Over the next three years, Audible will work with drama schools and theatre professionals as part of its drive to seek out and support the development of emerging and existing theatre talent. Beyond support for playwrights, the fund will sustain live and in-studio production of the newly created plays. The new initiative will offer established and new playwrights the opportunity to be heard by millions of Audible listeners at a time when both playwrights and theatre companies "increasingly rely upon funding for the arts", a spokesperson said.
Audible will select recipients for grants in collaboration with an advisory board of distinguished talent in the theatre world, including playwrights Sir Tom Stoppard, David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage, artistic director Oskar Eustis, actress Annette Bening, and director Leigh Silverman.
Stoppard said: “Audible’s innovative proposal to commission original work for one voice or two voices for both stage and recording studio is welcome news in hard times for arts funding, and it puts the writer at the heart of things."
Silverman added: “This program will expand how audiences view one-person shows. In a solo show the drama unfolds between the story the character intends to be telling and the actual story he or she is telling.”