"Cambodian Rock Band" at South Coast Repertory in 2018. Pictured: Raymond Lee, Joseph Ngo, Jane Lui, and Brooke Ishibashi.

Lauren Yee and Jaclyn Backhaus Win 2018 Horton Foote Prize

The playwrights will each receive $25,000 prizes for their plays ‘Cambodian Rock Band’ and ‘India Pale Ale.’

NEW YORK CITY: The 2018 Horton Foote Prize recipients, given in honor of the late playwright, have been announced. The prize for Outstanding New American Play is awarded to Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band. The 2018 Prize for Promising New American Play, which is presented to an unproduced work, has been awarded to India Pale Ale by Jaclyn Backhaus. The winners will each be presented with a $25,000 cash prize and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote at a private reception in New York City on Oct. 15.

Yee and Backhaus were nominated by South Coast Repertory and Manhattan Theatre Club, respectively, and were selected through a blind reading process. The selection committee included Liz Engelman, Rosa Joshi, Allison Narver, and Joy Meads. The 2018 panel of judges included Judith Ivey, Susan Bernfield, John Dias, and Linsay Firman.

“It is truly an honor to have been part of this year’s Horton Foote Prize committee,” said Ivey in a statement. “We four all expressed our joy and passion for all six of the final choices. The playwrights all explored the human condition and social circumstances in such creative ways, always with a solid truth and desire to share the inhumanity each character was experiencing. Each one beautifully wrote of the challenges of today’s world. Making a decision was very difficult for all four of us.”

Cambodian Rock Band premiered at South Coast Repertory in March and will be produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., and Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater in 2019. The play, featuring music by Dengue Fever, follows a young Cambodian American seeking justice for a Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, and her father, who arrives to dissuade her from digging too deeply into the country’s troubled history.

The world premiere of India Pale Ale will be at Manhattan Theatre Club beginning Oct. 2. The play is about a tight-knit Punjabi community in a small Wisconsin town gathering to celebrate the engagement of a traditional family’s only son, just as their daughter announces plans to move away and open a bar.

The Horton Foote Prize was established in 2010 to recognize excellence in the American theatre. The award is funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation in Austin.