The Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment

The Ruth E. Flournoy Theatre Endowment was created in 1998 by Mrs. Flournoy as a departmental support fund in honor of her husband, Dan H. Flournoy '64, and her children, Sarah M. Flournoy '97 and John W. Flournoy '99. Return from this endowment annually supports visiting guest artists on campus, including teachers and production support professionals ranging from single performances to residential teaching/performing engagements. Over the years, this generous endowment has supported the artistic and educational mission of the department in various ways. 

For the 2021-2022 school year, the Flournoy Theatre Endowment's playwright is Jen Silverman.

On December 7, 2021 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m., she will conduct a workshop via Zoom titled Turn and Face the Strange: Writing Non-Naturalistic TheatreBut what is absurd, or rather what is unusual, is first and foremost what exists: reality. Eugene Ionesco

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This two-hour workshop focuses on theatrer as a particularly fertile ground for non-naturalistic story-telling. How can we defamiliarize the familiar? How do non-naturalistic approaches disarm an audience, or help disorient (and then reorient) them? In what ways can we access the political or emotional realities of our world by approaching them at an unexpected angle?

Students will be lead through an intensive series of writing exercises aimed at developing their surrealist and absurdist instincts. Exercises will be interspersed with short readings from plays such as Caryl Churchill's Far Away or Young Jean Lee's monologue Yaggoo. Students don't need to know anything about absurdist theater nor do they need to be self-declared playwrights; all they need is the willingness to go on a focused writing journey.

Jen Silverman is a New York-based playwright and writer. Her plays include Witch, Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties..., The Roommate, and The Moors. They  have been produced off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally in countries including England, Australia, The Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland and China. Her plays are published with Samuel French/ Concord Theatricals (US), Oberon Books (UK), and S. Fischer Verlag (Germany).

Silverman is the author of The Island Dwellers, a collection of interlinked stories published by Random House and longlisted for the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards. Her debut novel We Play Ourselves was recently published by Random House, featured in the NY Times and selected by O Magazine as an "LGBTQ Book That Will Change the Literary Landscape."

Her work has appeared in Vogue, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, and LitHub among others. Jen also writes for TV and film. Education: Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard. More info:


• 2020 - 2021 Jocelyn Bioh was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2019 - 2020 Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2018 - 2019 Paula Vogel was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2017 - 2018 Suzan-Lori Parks, Watch Me Work

• 2016 - 2017 Sylvia Milo, The Other Mozart

• 2015-2016 Adam Rapp was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2013-2015 Latiana Gourzong was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2012-2013 Andrew Becker was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

• 2011-2012 Anthony Lawrence was the recipient of the Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment.

From 2012-2015 The Ruth E. Flournoy Theater Endowment supported the department’s production season by hiring high quality Technical Directors from around the country. They coordinated the artistic work of faculty, guest artists and students to execute the highest caliber productions our department have ever presented.

Past Playwright Festivals include:

2010-2011: Lucinda McDermott's Feeding on Mulberry Leaves along with several other special performances and events.

2009: Lucy Thurber's Where We're Born, directed by Marquita Robinson ’10.

2009: Christopher Cartmill's ’84 (written and directed by Christopher Cartmill) The Apotheosis of Vaclav Drda, and readings of The Robbers of Madderbloom, and Nebraska Dispatches.

2008: Tom Ziegler's (written and directed by Tom Ziegler) Father Frances.

2006: Paula Vogel's (directed by Tom Ziegler) How I Learned to Drive, and (student directed by Michael Wagoner ’07) The Long Christmas Ride Home, and a reading of Paula Vogel's (directed by Tom Ziegler) The Oldest Profession

2005: Neil LaBute's (directed by Tom Ziegler) The Shape of Things. A Reading of LaBute's Fat Pig, and The Mercy Seat.

2004: Bo Wilson's (directed by Tom Ziegler) War Story, Bo Wilson's (directed by Tom Evans) My Uncle's Business.

2003: Wendy Kesselman's(directed by Tom Ziegler) The Notebook. Readings by Dwayne Yancey Monument Avenue, Brad Hearn's The High Watermark, and Emily Ecton's ’92 Reign of Tara.

2002: Arlene Hutton's Last Train to Nibroc, and John Henry Redwood's No Niggers, No Jews, and No Dogs. Both directed by Tom Ziegler.