EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning writer-playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, creator of the acclaimed series David Makes Man, has teamed up with actor-producer Glenn Davis, artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, to launch Chatham Grove, a production company which has inked an overall deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Under the multi-year deal, McCraney, Davis and their team at Chatham Grove will develop and produce projects across genres and formats for broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.
McCraney and Davis, who have been friends for 20 years, since meeting as undergraduates at The Theatre School at DePaul University, created Chatham Grove with the clear goal of creating content that promotes and is centered around voices and artists from communities that have been historically underrepresented and often marginalized.
The duo, who named their company after the areas that each of them are from — the Chatham neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago (Davis), and the Coconut Grove neighborhood in Miami (McCraney) — plan to mine their experience across film, television and theatre to foster collaborations with both established and new voices while continuing their brand of “intimate epics” that combines bold and personal storytelling.
“From his Oscar-winning Moonlight to David Makes Man, Tarell is a genius at his craft and has captivated audiences with rich, layered stories that dig into how we connect and live. We are honored to be working with him and Glenn to help bring their vision for Chatham Grove to life.” said UCP President Beatrice Springborn
McCraney, who co-wrote the 2016 film Moonlight based on his own play, and Davis are co-founders of Cast Iron Entertainment, a collective group that aims to incubate new theater projects. Their fellow collaborators include two-time Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown, Emmy Award and Tony Award nominee Brian Tyree Henry, Tony Award nominee Jon Michael Hill, and André Holland.
“Glenn and I have dreamed about taking a step like this for as long as we’ve known each other,” McCraney said. “We have talked endlessly about creating a company inspired by our own creative partnership — a place that would allow us to work with artists we love and believe in, to create stories that we are truly passionate about — and we couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with Pearlena, Beatrice, and the entire UCP team, whose commitment to bold and diverse storytelling mirrors our own, for this next chapter.”
Added Davis, “Chatham Grove is more than just the expansion of our 20-year friendship and producing partnership. For Tarell and I, the company marks a natural next step in our evolution as storytellers and creative collaborators as we look to build an inclusive space that amplifies and uplifts marginalized voices through powerful, thought-provoking premium content.”
McCraney’s unpublished autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue served as the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The second season of McCraney’s praised OWN drama series David Makes Man, executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan, can currently be streamed on HBO Max. The first season received a Peabody Award, Critic’s Choice Award, and Gotham Award while also maintaining 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. McCraney also wrote the film High Flying Bird, staring Andre Holland and directed by Steve Soderbergh, which premiered on Netflix. McCraney’s plays include Ms. Blakk For President (co-written with Tina Landau) and The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the Whiting Award and Steinberg Playwright Award, among others. McCraney is currently Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects. He is repped by CAA, Manage-Ment, Tara Kole, and TEAM in the UK.
Along with expanding his existing relationship with Steppenwolf, where he has been an ensemble member since 2017, Davis’ recent appointment to Artistic Director also marks the first time that a person of color has been name to the position in the company’s decades-long history. Davis is best known for his starring role opposite Robin Williams in the Broadway production of Bengal Tiger At the Baghdad Zoo. He most recently appeared in Downstate, which then transferred to The National Theatre in the UK. Television credits include Billions, 24, The Unit, Jericho and The Good Wife. Glenn is an artistic associate at the Young Vic in London and at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. As an actor he will next be seen in King James at Steppenwolf followed by a run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Davis is repped by CAA, Innovative Artists and Greg Slewett.
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