Matt Webster and Cris Eli Blak Announced as Abingdon Theatre Company’s 31st Season Artists-in-Residence

Matt Webster and Cris Eli Blak Announced as Abingdon Theatre Company’s 31st Season Artists-in-Residence

(New York, NY) Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 – Abingdon Theatre Company (Chad Austin, Producing Artistic Director) has announced two new Artists-in-Residence for their upcoming 31st season beginning in the fall. Matt Webster and Cris Eli Blak are set to be the next participants in the Carolyn Halpert Artist-in-Residence program, which began in 2017.

Every season, ATC selects artists for a year-long residency. The program aims to nurture emerging artists and their new works, offering mentorship and the opportunity to continue further exploration of their work.

Matt Webster said, “I am extremely honored to have been chosen as the Artist-in-Residence for Abingdon Theatre Company’s 31st Season. It has always been a dream of mine to find an artistic home in NYC, and I have finally found that with ATC. The amount of support and encouragement that they have already provided to me, before my residence even begins, is truly special. I can’t wait to see what we can create together.”

“I am so excited to join the Abingdon family in this way,” said Cris Eli Blak. “Some people get into this business to tell stories, I got into it to tell the truth. My main goal is to write plays that reflect the world we live in with raw honesty and authenticity, to show that the ordinary is extraordinary, and that the ‘American Dream’ is a ball of clay that is pulled into a different shape depending on the block you come from. To be able to continue that mission with ATC, a company that puts so much value on diverse storytelling and new voices, is a gift. Big thanks to Chad Austin and everyone who gave me this opportunity. It means more than I can express. And as always, a shout-out and special love to my mother, my whole family, all my friends and those who continue to believe in me and support me, and to the city that raised me, H-Town, Houston, Texas. You already know your hometown boy is gonna make you proud. Much love.”

WHO

Matt Webster is a New York City based actor and writer. Matt performed on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre in DGF Toasts: Stephen Schwartz. In addition to singing in the show, Matt contributed the vocal arrangements. Matt has been seen onstage as Glad Hand in the Broadway Tour of West Side Story and won Best Actor for his portrayal of Johnny Pope in A Hatful of Rain (BroadwayWorld). In 2019, Matt portrayed the role of Derek in the award-winning, world premiere of his new play BACK, which is now being turned into a television series. The pilot episode won Best TV Script at the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Fest. In addition to BACK, Matt’s plays and musicals include: Kingdom Come (winner Best Musical at the Downtown Urban Theatre Fest), Jay and the Contest (winner Risk Theatre Playwriting Award), Reveries, and Alex Fox: American Hero. With his frequent collaborator Taylor Ferrera, Matt has co-written: a new adaptation of Cinderella; Democracy, Day 1; County Fair – A Country Hits Musical; Tessa Takes a Turn; Betty Zane; and Propaganda! The Musical – which made its international debut at the Gaetnerplatz Theatre in Munich, Germany. In 2020, it was released as a podcast musical, featuring a full sound design, complete orchestra, and a cast filled with Broadway stars. In the summer of 2021, Matt (along with his collaborator, Taylor) won the prestigious Webby Award for Best Podcast Writing for Propaganda, the Podcast Musical. Matt co-owns the production company Propaganda Theatricals, is a founding member of the Magic Forest Theatre Company, and teaches acting and text analysis at The New York Film Academy, where he also serves as Resident Playwright. Matt is a Johnny Mercer Award Winner and received his BFA in Acting from West Virginia University where he was named the Outstanding Graduate from the College of Creative Arts. www.TheOtherMattWebster.com

Cris Eli Blak is an emerging proud Black playwright. His work has been produced Off-Broadway and around the country; on university stages (Columbia University, Northwestern University, New York University); as well as in London, Australia, Ireland, and Canada. He is the winner of the inaugural Black Broadway Men Playwriting Initiative and the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s inaugural winner of the Muse of Fire BIPOC Playwriting Festival. He has been the artist in residence at the State University of New York – Oswego, and the recipient of the inaugural Emerging Playwrights Fellowship from The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre. He was a resident playwright with Fosters Theatrical Artists Residency, Paterson Performing Arts Development Council and La Lengua Teatro en Español/AlterTheater Ensemble; the recipient of the Michael Bradford Residency from Quick Silver Theatre Company; and was in the inaugural class of fellows for the Black Theatre Coalition. His work has been published by Smith & Kraus, Inc., YOUTHPlays, Applause Books, New World Theatre, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, and in the Black Theatre Review.

Established over 30 years ago, Abingdon Theatre Company (ATC) develops and produces critically acclaimed brave, new American work by emerging and established artists. Mainstage Productions include the Off-Broadway premiere of Robin & Me: My Little Spark of Madness written and performed by Dave Droxler, the New York premiere of Queens Girl in the World, which was nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance for the Vivian Robinson Audelco Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre, and the NYT Critics’ Pick Get on Your Knees written and performed by Jaqueline Novak, nominated for a

Drama Desk Award. The DMW Greer One Night Only Series has showcased work such as Alex Edelman’s Just for Us which went on to receive Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations and is currently running on Broadway; Back by Matt Webster starring Emmy Award nominee Madeline Brewer and Tony Award nominee James Cusati-Moyer; The Prompter starring Oscar-winning actress Estelle Parsons; Date of a Lifetime, a new musical with book and lyrics by Carl Kissin and music by Robert Baumgartner Jr. ATC’s Around the Table Series has produced staged readings of new plays such as The Inferno by Chris Sherman and Arancini by Joey Merlo. In 2020, ATC established Abingdon Virtual led by Executive Producer Chad Austin, and has since produced three award-winning films, including As Apple Pie written and directed by Artist-in-Residence Pierre Marais, which was an official selection of the Cannes World Film Festival for Best Young Filmmaker and won multiple awards at festivals including Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best Drama USA; Abingdon Virtual’s premiere film, It Cries Too Loudly, was an official selection of the Prague International Short Film Awards and won Best Cinematography and Best Short Film at the Eastern European Film Festival.

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