DC Theater Arts writer D.R. Lewis awarded ATCA Helbing Fellowship

Announced by The American Theatre Critics/Journalists Association, the fellowship is designed to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ arts writers.

The American Theatre Critics/Journalists Association (ATCA) and Foundation ATCA have announced DC Theater Arts writer D.R. Lewis as the second recipient of the ATCA Helbing Fellowship for LGBTQ+ theater writers. Members of the Helbing Committee reviewed the second season’s applications and selected Washington, DC writer Lewis as the second Helbing Fellow. The new season of the program is expected to begin in summer 2024. The program carries a stipend of $5,000 to support the recipient’s career and research during the fellowship year.

Lewis (he/him) is a theater critic, writer and communications professional based in Washington, DC. His work has been published in Washington City Paper, DC Theater Arts, DC Trending and The DC Line. He is currently a Day Eight Arts Journalism Fellow and was a member of the inaugural Day Eight New Theatre Critics Cohort. A graduate of The George Washington University, Lewis was the 2016 recipient of the Astere E. Claeyssens Prize in Playwriting. He is an Associate Member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

D.R. Lewis, courtesy of D.R. Lewis

In making the announcement, the committee cited Lewis’ commitment to LGBTQ+ journalism through his years-long work at NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, along with his intriguing and timely proposal to explore the legacy of Thornton Wilder’s characters and themes through a queer lens. With major productions on the horizon for Wilder, including a Broadway revival of Our Town in the fall of this year, Lewis’ application was both powerful and prescient.

Named for the late gay theater pioneer Terry Helbing, the Fellowship has been designed to encourage the development of LGBTQ+ theater coverage and to develop and amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ arts writers through scholarship, mentorship, and professional development to make arts journalism a more progressive and inclusive profession.

Lewis plans to use the program to create original work on playwright Thornton Wilder. He said,  “I am deeply honored to be named the second Helbing Fellow. I began my professional career at an association of LGBTQ journalists. To now receive this award named for Terry Helbing, a pioneer in both LGBTQ journalism and theater, is humbling. I am so grateful to ATCA and excited to use this opportunity to explore the life and work of another theater innovator.”

“The Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association funded the Helbing Fellowship to honor the memory of the late critic, editor, and producer Terry Helbing,” said Jay Handelman, President of Foundation ATCA. “Our first fellow, Billy McEntee, spent a year researching and writing about Helbing’s life and career and setting this new fellowship program on a clear path to preserve Helbing’s legacy. We look forward to supporting Dillon and his project on Our Town and providing him the support and mentorship needed to see it through completion. We hope it will become material that will be read and referenced widely.”

The 2024 Helbing Committee includes Christopher Byrne (chair), Jay Handelman, Billy McEntee, Gerard Raymond, Frank Rizzo, and Martha Wade Steketee.

For more information about the program, visit the ATCA website’s Helbing Program page.


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