NEW YORK: Samuel French, a Concord Theatricals Company, has named the recipients of its 4th annual Samuel French Awards. The 2019 awards, will be given to the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) Accessibility Programs, playwright Aleshea Harris, and the late playwright Neil Simon. They will each receive $5,000.
“We are proud to continue the tradition of the Samuel French Awards,” said Abbie Van Nostrand, vice president of client relations and community engagement at Concord Theatricals, in a statement. “We’re delighted that our company holds such a variety of talented artists within its catalog.”
Elaine Joyce, Simon’s widow, is accepting the Award for Sustained Excellence in American Theatre on behalf of Simon. The award is presented to a Samuel French author whose body of work has been produced nationally, and honorees select a program or theatre to which Concord Theatricals will donate on their behalf. Joyce selected the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts for the $5,000 honor. Simon, who died in 2018, is one the most performed playwrights in the world. He won four Tony Awards, including one for lifetime achievement, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Mark Twain Prize for American Comedy.
TDF’s Accessibility Programs received the Impact and Activism in the Theatre Community Award
. TDF’s accessibility initiatives provide sensory-friendly performances of Broadway productions; open captioned, sign language interpreted, and audio described performances of shows on and Off-Broadway; and accessible seating for people with mobility issues.
Harris received the Next Step Award for support of an ongoing or unfinished project. Harris’s play Is God Is won the 2016 Relentless Award, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, the Obie Award for Playwriting, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.