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Leah Nanako Winkler Wins First Annual Mark O’Donnell Prize

The award for emerging theatre artists comes with $25,000 and developmental support.

Leah Nanako Winkler (Photo by Jack Bensinger)

NEW YORK CITY: The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons have named playwright Leah Nanako Winkler the winner of the first annual Mark O’Donnell Prize. The award, which recognizes an emerging theatre artist, comes with $25,000.

Winkler was presented with the prize on Oct. 25 at the Mark O’Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center in Downtown Brooklyn. As part of the prize, she will have use of the Mark O’Donnell Theater for one week to develop a reading of a new work, as well as counseling from the Actors Fund on two of the major challenges faced by emerging artists—applying for affordable housing and obtaining health insurance.

Winkler’s plays include Kentucky and Two Mile Hollow, which will be produced this season in Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The prize is named after Mark O’Donnell, who co-wrote the book to the musical Hairspray. It is made possible by a gift from O’Donnell’s brother Stephen O’Donnell, who donated Mark O’Donnell’s royalties as co-writer of the Broadway musical in perpetuity to the Actors Fund.

The Actors Fund is a national services organization that provides social services and emergency financial assistance to performing artists and entertainment professionals. Playwrights Horizons is an Off-Broadway theatre dedicated to developing and producing bold new plays and musicals.

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