Tennessee Playwrights Studio

Developing Fresh Voices for the 21st Century

2018 Fellows and associates

Claudia Barnett (Fellow)


Claudia Barnett grew up in the Bronx and lives in the woods of Tennessee. Her plays have been developed and performed at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, the Ingram New Works Lab, the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival, MultiStages, Stage Left Theatre, and Venus Theatre, and she won the Andaluz Award Jury Prize from Fusion Theatre. She’s a professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University and the author of I Love You Terribly: Six Plays (2012) and No. 731 Degraw-street, Brooklyn, or Emily Dickinson’s Sister: A Play in Two Acts (2015), both published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. 

Briana Cox (Associate)


Briana Cox was born and raised in Tullahoma, Tennessee — a town inexplicably found on state maps.  She is the oldest of seven children, a first-generation academic, and a recent graduate from Swarthmore College, where she studied cognitive science and Japanese. As a twenty-something emerging author, she doesn’t have many published pieces under her belt, but a few smatterings of prose and short fiction can be found in the Decades Review, the Swarthmore Review, and the YoungArts Writers’ Anthology. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time brushing up on Japanese to maybe one day be more literate than a Japanese middleschooler.

Matt Garner (Fellow)


Matt Garner’s work includes There are Others, produced at Belmont University and directed by David Ian Lee, as well as the short play Hotel Bar. He received his MFA in Acting from UNC-Chapel Hill where he was also a company member at PlayMakers Rep. Matt has performed in RedA Raisin in the SunClybourne Park, In the Next RoomDeath of a SalesmanRosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadKing Lear, and Henry V.  He has read with Ingram New Works, both in the REPAloud series with Rebecca Gilman and Christopher Durang, as well as the Festival series with Tori Keenan-Zelt.

Gaye Jeffers (Fellow)


Gaye Jeffers is a director, playwright, and dramaturg.  She is a theatre professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Jeffers’ play Philo, inspired by Sophocles’ Philoctetes, was workshopped at the 2014 Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she studied with Daisy Foote and Dan O’Brien.  She attended the Yale Writers’ Conference in 2014 and worked with Amy Herzog.  Other plays include PeaceThe Day After Daddy, and Appealing Women.  Gaye was the 2017 Playwright in Residence at the South Carolina Theatre Conference. Chicago theatre credits include the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Lifeline Theatre, and Victory Gardens Theater. 

Louis Johnson (Fellow)


Louis Johnson's works have received staged readings and productions at theatres and festivals including  the African-American Meeting House (Boston), John D. O’Bryant Center at Northeastern University (Evanston), Our Place Theatre Project (Boston), People’s Branch Theatre (Nashville), Thespian Production Company (Ft. Myers), Red Harlem Reader’s Series Program (NYC), The BlackBoard Reading Series @ the Cell Theatre (NYC), Fade to Black Play Festival (Houston), 6’10 Festival of African-American Plays (Louisville), and the Shades of Black Theatre Festival (Nashville). He has also written for The Rhythmic Lounge magazine and is the lead writer/co-creator of the web-series, The Thrill of the Kill, an official selection of Phoenix Comicon Film Festival 2017. 

Arabelle Pollick (Associate)


Arabelle Pollick is a choreographer, actress and devoted theatre lover who hails from Pittsburgh, PA. She moved south to Tennessee nearly six years ago after a stint in Madrid, Spain, where she studied migratory movement, women’s studies and art history at Universidad Antonio de Nebrija. She is the current ambassador for the Dramatists Guild of America Tennessee Chapter and works directly with playwright and DGTN representative, C. Kay 'Andy' Landis. In 2017, she directed the Tennessee production of Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret, part of a National project for the Dramatists Guild Legal Defense Fund. She is an aspiring playwright who questions everything. And, learns everyday that she knows nothing.