ENGLEWOOD, FLA.: The Hermitage Artist Retreat, which brings accomplished artists across disciplines to Florida for residencies on its beachfront campus, in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, has named Aleshea Harris as the winner of the 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize. Harris will receive a $30,000 commission for a new work, which will have its first public presentation in 2023 in partnership with Asolo Repertory Theatre, and a six-week residency at the Hermitage. Harris will receive her award at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize dinner on April 11 at 6 p.m.
“Amidst an extraordinary and competitive selection of finalists, Aleshea Harris stood out as an innovative, forward-thinking theatre artist who impressed the jury with her thoughtful and inspired vision,” said Hermitage artistic director and CEO Andy Sandberg in a statement. “She embodies the mission of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize: to bring into the world works of art that have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society.”
The jury that selected Harris as this year’s prize winner included Williamstown Theater Festival artistic director and Hermitage Curatorial Council member Mandy Greenfield (no relation to the Greenfield foundation), Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director Nataki Garrett, and Tony-nominated director Robert O’Hara. The three finalists this year were Afro-queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker Donja R. Love; actress, playwright, educator, and TCG board chair Nikkole Salter; and director, writer, and musician Whitney White. All three finalists will receive a Hermitage residency and a prize of $1,000.
Non-voting members of this year’s jury process included Sandberg, the Greenfield Foundation’s Joni Greenfield, and Asolo Rep producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards.
Aleshea Harris’s play Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep) won the 2016 Relentless Award, an OBIE Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019, was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and made The Kilroys’ List of “the most recommended un and underproduced plays by trans and female authors of color” for 2017. What to Send Up When It Goes Down (directed by Whitney White, produced by the Movement Theatre Company), a play-pageant-ritual response to anti-Blackness, had its critically acclaimed NYC premiere in 2018, was featured in the April 2019 issue of American Theatre magazine and was nominated for a Drama Desk award. Harris was awarded the Windham Campbell Literary Prize and the Steinberg Playwriting Award in 2020. She has performed her own work at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Orlando Fringe Festival, REDCAT, as part of La Fête du Livre at La Comèdie de Saint-Étienne, and at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. She is a two- time MacDowell Fellow and has enjoyed residencies at Hedgebrook and Djerassi.
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