It's been busy. My dropbox is full.
Ken Urban '96 expects rejection as a playwright, but 2016 was a year of exceptions. He received two "atta boys": a $7,000 Artists' Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and induction into New Dramatists, an artistic home and developmental laboratory for professional playwrights in New York City. He released The Past Will Last Forever, an album by Occurrence, his band with Cat Hollyer '96, and saw his plays being performed and developed in Chicago, New York and Minneapolis.
"It's been busy. My dropbox is full," says Urban, an English major who graduated from Bucknell with honors, magna cum laude, and went on to get a master's and doctorate from Rutgers University.
The recognitions from NYFA and New Dramatists are particularly important to him, because they were based on judgments from his peers, affirming that "your work is valuable; your work is really good. ... [and] that I should keep doing this," he says.
The NYFA grant, a cash award for artists living and working in New York, was a windfall that allowed him to spend the summer "getting down to work" and purchasing "silly things" like a laptop.
As a member playwright at the nonprofit New Dramatists, Urban receives time, space and resources to be creative. He was one of only seven playwrights chosen this year for a seven-year residency.
Urban's current creative focus is Nibbler, which will be produced by The Amoralists Theatre Co. at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City Feb. 23-March 19, and A Guide for the Homesick, which will premiere during the Huntington Theatre Company of Boston's 2017-18 season.
Nibbler is set in summer 1992, as a group of friends faces life after high school and encounters an alien. Urban says it's a coming-of-age story that is semi-autobiographical, based on his summer before Bucknell — although he didn't encounter any aliens.
In addition to playwriting, Urban is a lecturer at the Princeton writing program. This fall, he also finished his first television pilot script and played a live show in New York City with Occurrence.