Discipline: Theatre – playwriting

Ken Urban

Discipline: Theatre – playwriting
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2008, 2009, 2022, 2023

Ken Urban is a playwright, screenwriter and musician. He leads the band Occurrence who recently released the album Slow Violence (worked on at MacDowell in 2022) with Archie & Fox Records. Urban also teaches dramatic writing at MIT. His awards include an EST/Alfred P. Sloan Science & Technology Project Commission, a Weissberger Playwriting Award, a NYFA Fellowship, and a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and affiliated writer at the Playwrights’ Center. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service.

His stage plays include A Guide For The Homesick (Huntington Theatre Company, Trafalgar Studios in the West End), The Remains (Studio Theatre), Sense of An Ending (59E59 Theatres, London’s Theatre503), Nibbler (The Amoralists and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), The Correspondent (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), The Awake (59E59 Theatres, First Floor Theater), and The Happy Sad (The Public Theatre/Summer Play Festival). Ken wrote the screenplay for the feature-film adaptation of The Happy Sad, directed by Rodney Evans, whom he met at MacDowell. His audio play Vapor Trail was selected for the 2022 Tribeca Festival’s Audio Storytelling series and released as part of Playwrights Horizons’ Sound Stage. He is currently working on four new plays including a commission from Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Foundation.

During his 2008 MacDowell Fellowship, Urban completed drafts of two new plays, The Awake and Correspondence, and revised The Private Lives of Eskimos for its Chicago opening at Stage Left. During his 2009 residency, he revised Sense of an Ending and completed the screenplay for The Happy Sad.

In 2022, he wrote two new plays, Cath Carroll and The Conquered, and revised three scripts: the stage plays The Moderate and The Tenure Itch, and a feature-length screenplay The Cleaner. Cath Carroll is the first recipient of the Aaron Thomann New Play Commission from Kane Repertory Theatre, and premiered in 2022.

At MacDowell in 2023, Urban completed revisions on The Moderate, Danger and Opportunity, and The Tenure Itch in preparation for upcoming workshops and productions. He also revised his short screenplay Salvation, which was recently optioned by Tepui Media and starts shooting in 2024. He also finalized mixes Occurrence’s upcoming releases and locked picture on the film of the band’s recent dance theater collaboration with MIT and choreographer/director Dan Safer. During residency, he returned briefly to NYC to receive the A IS FOR Playwriting Award for Cath Carroll.


Monday Music

Ken Urban worked in the Monday Music studio.

Given to the residency by the Monday Music Club of Orange, NJ, Monday Music Studio is sited next to an enormous boulder deposited by glaciers thousands of years ago. A small dormer once pierced the east slope of the roof, but after damage suffered in the 1938 hurricane, the roof was rebuilt without the dormer. The interior…

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