NEWARK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Audible Inc., the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment, today announced the establishment of a $5 million fund dedicated to the commission and development of innovative English-language works from playwrights around the globe. 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 brilliantly composed words. Audible will solicit submissions for fund grants immediately, and plans to begin releasing original theater for Audible listeners in late 2017.
“For two decades, Audible has embraced, celebrated and worked to elevate the artful performance of well-composed words,” said Andy Gaies, Audible’s Chief Content Officer. “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.”
At a time when both playwrights and theater companies increasingly rely upon funding for the arts and ticket prices to live theater soar, Audible seeks to support established and new playwrights by commissioning works that can be heard by millions of Audible listeners. Beyond support for playwrights, the fund will sustain live and in-studio production of the newly created plays. Working with more than 20,000 actors over the past 5 years, Audible remains one of the most significant income sources for professional actors in the New York tri-state area, and is committed to investing in playwrights around the world to help support the craft while also meeting the ever-increasing appetite for a wide range of premium audio entertainment. Audible will select recipients for grants in collaboration with an advisory board of distinguished talent in the theater world, including:
- Sir Tom Stoppard, the eminent British playwright known for such wide-ranging masterworks as The Real Thing, Travesties and The Coast of Utopia;
- Annette Bening, the Tony and Academy Award-nominated actress whose indelible performances include American Beauty, The Kids are All Right and 20th Century Woman;
- David Henry Hwang, the Tony Award-winning playwright of M. Butterfly, and a playwriting professor at Columbia University’s School of Arts;
- Oskar Eustis, the longtime artistic director for the Public Theater, where he developed and produced Hamilton and Fun Home, among countless other productions;
- Lynn Nottage, this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Sweat;
- Trip Cullman, the distinguished director whose recent stagings include Six Degrees of Separation, Yen and Significant Other;
- Mimi O’Donnell, the artistic director of Labyrinth Theater Company, a prominent off-Broadway showcase for new and diverse playwrights;
- Leigh Silverman, the Obie Award-winning director of the recent solo productions of All the Ways to Say I Love You and On the Exhale, and nominated for a Tony Award for directing Violet.
“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,” said Sir Tom Stoppard.
“This program will expand how audiences view one-person shows,” said Leigh Silverman. “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.”
Over the next three years, in addition to investment in playwright commissions and production costs, Audible will work with drama schools and theater professionals to seek out and support the development of emerging and existing theater talent.
For more information, please contact AudibleTheater@audible.com.
Among the acclaimed performers who have narrated works of literature for Audible are Sean Penn, Nick Offerman, Zachary Quinto, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, Emma Thompson, James Franco, and Jesse Eisenberg. Audible Studios has won a Grammy Award for its production of Janis Ian’s memoir Society’s Child, and has also been recognized with the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year, most recently for Colin Firth’s performance of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Audible invented and commercialized the first digital audio player in 1997, and has since been at the forefront of the explosively growing audiobook download segment. In 2016, Audible members downloaded an average of more than 17 books over the course of the year. More than half of new Audible members are first-time audiobook buyers.
ABOUT AUDIBLE, INC.
Audible, Inc., an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. Audible was created to unleash the emotive music in language and the habituating power and utility of verbal expression. Audible content includes more than 350,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Audible is also the provider of spoken-word audio products for Apple’s iTunes Store.