NEW YORK CITY: Emerging playwrights Clare Barron and Sarah DeLappe have been named the inaugural winners of the Relentless Award, presented by the American Playwriting Foundation. The award was created last year in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The two will split a $45,000 prize.
The award is given to unproduced plays. Barron was recognized for her play Dance Nation and DeLappe for The Wolves. They were chosen from among 2,000 submissions. As part of their prize, the playwrights will receive a weeklong retreat, accompanied by a director, dramaturg, and actors, which will culminate in staged readings. The Ed Vassallo Relentless Reading Series will be kicked off in New York City at the New Group, and other participating companies include American Conservatory Theater, Asolo Rep Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Goodman, the Huntington, the Wilma, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Along with the cash earnings, the authors of Relentless Award-winning plays will have the option to have their work published by the Dramatists Play Service.
Foundation founder David Bar Katz, a friend of Hoffman’s, told the New York Times: “We had so many discussions over the years of how tough it is on playwrights, and how difficult to survive. We’d sit and talk about it in Keens Chophouse, and on the walls they have all those fliers from theatres in the 1800s, but playwrights couldn’t afford to come here now, and Phil said it would be nice if a playwright could afford a steak and make a living.”
The award is funded from a court settlement. Last year, after Hoffman’s death, the National Enquirer published a false story regarding Hoffman and Katz. Katz then sued the publication and used the money to create the American Playwriting Foundation and the Relentless Award.
Two finalists were also announced: Jake Jeppson, for #Bros, and Liza Birkenmeier, for Radio Island. They each won $1,000.
The Relentless Award is the largest annual cash prize awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play. The judges for 2015 included playwrights Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and Lucy Thurber.