Will Arbery

Will Arbery was the 2016 Northwestern University Awardee of the Edes Foundation Prize.

Arbery is a playwright, filmmaker, and performer. He grew up the only boy among seven sisters, and his work examines the idea of “perceived limitation.” Inspired by his older sister Julia, who has Down syndrome, he’s compelled to write authentic characters across all spectra, and is particularly invested in characters with physical and cognitive disabilities. He’s based in Brooklyn, and is a member of Clubbed Thumb’s writers group Impartial Nudity.


His play The Mongoose was produced by The Road Theatre in Los Angeles, where it was an LA Times Critic’s Pick. In 2014, he was one of the winners of the Samuel French OOB Festival with his play The Logic. His plays include: Claustrophile (Clubbed Thumb SummerWorks reading), The Confession (Alliance Theatre/Kendeda workshop), You’re Sadder Than You Realize (Dixon Place), and WE WERE NOTHING! (Flavorpill Editor’s Pick). He’s a member of BOOMERANG and was in residence with them at the Watermill Center.

During the award year, Will planned to finish his short film Your Resources and develop it into a feature film. He also planned to create: a new musical featuring a Down syndrome lead performer, a web-series involving perceived limitation, and a new play about his seven sisters. The award also helped him afford the costs of residencies, travel for research, rehearsal space, submissions, and professional development.

Residencies include: Tofte Lake Center, Wildacres, Can Serrat. His writing has been published in Better, great weather for MEDIA, The Awl, Word Riot, decomP, Howl Round, and more. He was named one of Variety’s “110 Students to Watch.”