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The Ann Brebner Legacy Fund

In 2013, in honor of Ann Brebner's 90th birthday and AlterTheater's 9th year, Ann and Alter co-founder Jeanette Harrison set up the Ann Brebner Legacy Fund, specifically to support AlterLab, the program nearest & dearest to Ann's heart.

Why AlterLab?

"I never expected to fundraise again, after rebuilding the Rafael Theater. I tapped out everyone I knew. But this Fund is supporting something that has been a tremendous benefit to me personally, and to our community. It would make me very sad if AlterTheater stopped developing and producing new plays. I want to help ensure the future of this program. And at 90, I think I’ve earned the right to advocate for what I think is important.”

- Ann Brebner, 2013

A member of AlterLab for the first four cohorts, Ann wrote her first original play (which she began at the age of 88 ) in the inaugural AlterLab, and directed the world premiere of that play The Dead Girl at the age of 90. She then proceeded to write another play, The Land of the Long White Cloud, a love letter to her native New Zealand. She had just begun—at the age of 93—working on a new play, a play about urban isolation, inspired by a birthday present accidentally sent to the wrong address in New York City. 

Honor Ann's Legacy!

On January 13, 2017, our beloved Ann died peacefully in her home. To celebrate Ann, a titan of the American film and pillar of AlterTheater, we dedicated all of 2017's donations to the Ann Brebner Legacy Fund, which is still supporting playwrights today. In the months following theater closures due to COVID-19, we are able to expand our AlterLab program and not only support a cohort of five playwrights this year (four of them Indigenous!), we have also created AlterLab First Acts, a shorter residency for emerging playwrights.


Your donations help us continue Ann's legacy, supporting new plays by underrepresented voices.


Like our artists, our plays include works by the best playwrights of today--including Pulitzer Prize winners Arthur Miller, Lynn Nottage, Nilo Cruz--and the best emerging playwrights.

Larissa FastHorse

AlterLab supports playwrights at every stage of the development process. Each cohort of writers is diverse—from early career writers to award-winning established writers; from ages 23 to 93; writers from all backgrounds—and each cohort of writers chooses how to work together, supporting each other in creating adventurous, honest work. 

In each AlterLab cohort, AlterTheater commissions one playwright to write a new play  for and with our community. Commissioned playwrights work closely with our ensemble to create a story that tackles issues in our community, and that can shine in our unique storefront performance spaces.

An AlterTheater dream since our inception has been playwrights creating new work for our ensemble of artists. It took us four years: in 2008 we commissioned our first playwright, award-winning San Francisco poet/playwright Brian Thorstenson.

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