NEW YORK CITY: National New Play Network (NNPN) has announced that playwright Vickie Ramirez has won the 2020 Smith Prize for Political Theater. Ramirez is the 15th recipient of the $5,000 commission, established in 2006 by Timothy Jay Smith and a group of donors to encourage emerging playwrights to tackle pressing current issues.
“The Smith Prize for Political Theater is a program that has been urgent and necessary since its inception,” said NNPN executive director Nan Barnett in a statement. “The resonance and vision that Vickie’s project will contribute to the American theatre is especially vital at this time. We are thrilled to welcome her and her work into the network.”
In addition to the $5,000 prize, NNPN also compensates a NNPN member theatre up to $2,500 for a developmental workshop of the play and provides an additional $2,500 to the first NNPN member to fully produce the play.
“Vickie demands audience exploration of what it means not only to be American,” said Elisa Blandford, managing producer of Native Voices at the Autry, the theatre that nominated Ramirez for the prize, “but also to be human in a society that was ravaged by the atrocities of colonialization and the separation of Indigenous communities from mainstream culture. She poses challenging, political, and divisive questions—questions with no one clear answer, allowing for continued audience dialogue when the play ends.”
Vickie Ramirez (Tuscarora) is a founding member of Chukalokoli Native Theater Ensemble and Amerinda Theater. She is also an alumna of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group (2009) and is currently in residence at New Dramatists. Her work has been developed at the Public Theater, Labyrinth Theater, Roundabout Theatre’s Different Voices, the Missoula Writer’s Colony, and Black Swan at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She has been a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwright’s conference and the National Playwright’s Conference at the O’Neill. Honors include 2009 Urban Artists’ Fellowship and Honorable Mentions on the Kilroy’s List in 2015 for Standoff at Hwy#37 and in 2019 for Pure Native. Productions include Pure Native for Native Voices at the Autry (2019), Glenburn 12 WP for Summer Shorts at 59E59, Smoke for Mixed Phoenix Theatre Group at Pershing Square Signature Center, Liimikin at New Native Theater, and Standoff at Hwy#37 for Native Voices at the Autry in Los Angeles and South Dakota. Her work has been published in Monologues for Actors of Color: Women and Monologues for Actors of Color: Men (Routledge). Standoff at Hwy#37 is featured in the all-new Contemporary Plays by Women of Color (Routledge). Vickie is currently consulting on Outer Range for Amazon television and also developing Not Invisible: Native Womxn on the Frontlines, a podcast “celebrating the work of Native female/female-identifying activists that are leading the fight for change.” You can read her work in Monologues for Actors of Color: Women (2016), Monologues for Actors of Color Men, and Contemporary Plays by Women of Color (2017). Ramirez is also a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Founded in 1998, National New Play Network is an alliance of professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce, and extend the life of new plays.