NEW YORK CITY: Playwrights Anne Washburn and Lucas Hnath were presented with Whiting Awards in a ceremony last night, March 5, at the New York Historical Society. The awards, now in their 30th year, are presented by the Whiting Foundation, and are given annually to 10 exceptional emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. Each winner receives $50,000.
Anne Washburn’s work has been produced by 13P, American Repertory Theater, Cherry Lane Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, The Civilians, Dixon Place, Ensemble Studio Theater, London’s Gate Theatre, Soho Rep., D.C.’s Studio Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Vineyard Theatre. Her play Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play was produced at Playwrights Horizons in the fall of 2013 and at the Almeida Theatre in London in 2014.
In a statement, Whiting Award judges said, “One of the most brilliant playwrights working today, Anne Washburn engages with theatre, and also with the world. She is a master of form. Her plays can be challenging to watch: strange, original and haunting. She fills out and opens her conceits, making them richer and deeper with inventive language and emotional weight.”
Lucas Hnath’s The Christians was produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville as part of the 2014 Humana Festival and will premiere in New York at Playwrights Horizons in 2015. A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney was produced by Soho Rep in 2013. He has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011.
“[His] imagination is wide-ranging, his ear sharp. He shows us celebrity in ways we do not expect; he violates our assumptions,” the judges said in a statement. “He’s working in a form that could be static in lesser hands, but in his, the result is exceptionally dramatically dynamic.”
The Whiting Foundation provides early support for scholars and writers. It was founded in 1971 and was named after philanthropist Flora Ettlinger Whiting, who endowed the foundation with $10 million.