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Bess Wohl Receives Inaugural Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Award

In a virtual ceremony hosted by the Dramatists Guild Foundation and the Lillys, Wohl was among a number of awards recipients.

NEW YORK CITY: The Dramatists Guild Foundation (DGF) has named Bess Wohl the inaugural recipient of the Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Award. Wohl received the $10,000 prize in a virtual ceremony hosted by DGF and the Lillys on July 27.

Bess Wohl.

The establishment of the award was spearheaded by Engel’s close friends Phil Rosenthal, Monica Horan Rosenthal, Dori Berinstein, and John Quilty. The prize will be awarded annually to a playwright in honor of their work in comedy, and the recipient will be selected by the founding committee.

“We are thrilled to honor and celebrate Georgia’s comic genius with this very special award, as she had the utmost respect and profound reverence for writers who mastered the art of comedy,” the founding committee commented in a joint statement. Engel, best known for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, more recently appeared in the Annie Baker-Sam Gold productions John and Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep.

Wohl’s plays include Grand Horizons (Broadway), Small Mouth Sounds (New York Times, Best of 2016), Make Believe (New York Times, Best of 2019), Continuity, American HeroBarcelonaTouchedInCats Talk Back and Pretty Filthy (with Michael Friedman and the New York-based investigative theatre troupe The Civilians, where she is an associate artist). Her plays have been produced at theatre companies around the country, including Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Geffen Playhouse, Goodman Theatre, among others. Wohl is the recipient of the 2015 Sam Norkin Special Drama Desk Award and the John Gassner Outer Critics Circle Award. She currently holds new play commissions from Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Club, Second Stage, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is a MacDowell fellow and an alumna of Ars Nova’s Play Group. BA Harvard, MFA Yale School of Drama.

Georgia brought so much light to so many people, and my hope is that my own work can bring some tiny fraction of the joy and truth that Georgia embodied in everything she did, and that I can share that with audiences,” Wohl said in a statement.

In addition to the Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Award, DGF and the Lillys also celebrated the previously announced winners of the 2020 Dramatists Guild Awards. The recipients included Khiyon Hursey, the 2020 Stephen Schwartz Award; Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Julia Meinwald, and Benjamin Velez, the 2020 Thom Thomas Award; Michael R. Jackson, recipient of the Hull-Warriner Award and the Frederick Loewe Award for his musical A Strange LoopKia Corthron, recipient of the Flora Roberts Award; Lydia Diamond, recipient of the Horton Foote Playwriting Award; and Madhuri Shekar, recipient of the Lanford Wilson Award.

The Lilly Awards also honored Antoinette Nwandu with the Stacey Mindich Go Write a Play Award; Kirsten Childs with the Stacey Mindich Go Write a Musical Award; Danetta Lavinia Grays, Stacey Rose, Whitney White, and Jillian Walker with the Stacey Mindich Go Work in Theater Award; Sarita Fellows with the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, Melissa Crespo with the NYWF Director Award; Stevie Walker-Webb with the Award in Honor of Lorraine Hansberry; Tom Kirdahy with the Miss Lilly Award; and Emily Mann with the Lillys Lifetime Achievement Award.

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