NEW YORK CITY: Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) presented the Elliot Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy to Nakissa C. Etemad, and the G.E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement to Morgan Jenness, at the 30th anniversary LMDA conference on June 27.
The Elliot Hayes Award recognizes a dramaturg for their exemplary contribution to the theatre in the Americas. Etemad was awarded for her innovative dramaturgical work on Marcus Gardely’s play the road weeps, the well runs dry, and received a $1,000 prize.
“Nakissa’s work on this project excelled at meeting the five criteria of the Elliot Hayes Award: distinctiveness, contextualization, impact, ethics, and significance,” said selection committee chair Stephen Colella in a statement. “Her contributions to the unique project helped to drive its success and demonstrate the possibility for alternative models of supporting and sharing new plays. She went beyond traditional dramaturgical work to help produce this play in different venues and different communities, helping it to learn, change, and grow as it launched across the United States.”
The Lark Play Development Center’s Launching New Plays into the Repertoire (LNP) initiative enlisted Etemad to provide historical context and provide artistic insight for Gardley’s play. Etemad worked with Perseverance Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, the Latino Theater Company of LATC, and the University of South Florida’s School of Theatre and Dance to mount the four “rolling” world premieres of Gardley’s play. In addition to working on the script, Etemad developed outreach activities to engage audiences in conversation about the play and to educate communities about the theatre industry.
“My desire is to work on every show with her,” said playwright Marcus Gardley in a statement. “She is a Renaissance woman. I have learned so much about what dramaturgy can do for a play and a production from her. This award is an excellent way to honor a theatre artist whose passion and hard work has touched so many. She truly is a beacon of light.”
The G.E. Lessing Award for Career Achievement, meanwhile, is given for lifetime achievement in the field of dramaturgy. Jenness is only the sixth recipient of the award in LMDA’s 30-year history.
“It is deeply appropriate that LMDA celebrates Morgan’s contributions to the field of dramaturgy during its 30th anniversary conference in the town she has made her home,” said LMDA president Beth Blickers in a statement. “Whether, in her words, she was ‘committing acts of dramaturgy’ in diners, in rehearsal rooms, or while marching in the streets, she has inspired collaborators around the world.”
Jenness has worked as a dramaturg, literary manager, director of new play development, agent, and professor throughout her career. She was the 2015 Doris Duke Foundation Impact Award recipient, and she received an Obie Special Citation for Longtime Support of Playwrights in 2003.
“Morgan is an inspiring artist whose work with, for, and on behalf of dramaturgs and playwrights has, and continues to be, a beacon for those of us following in her footsteps,” said board chair Brian Quirt.