NEW YORK: The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation has announced the recipients of their 2021 Idea Awards for Theatre. The three grants honor adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theatre, as well as the visionary playwrights who have inspired and blazed trails before them.
The Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Awards will be presented to Jessica Hagedorn, Cherríe Moraga, and OyamO. The Tooth of Time Awards, which come with a $20,000 prize for each recipient, honor accomplished playwrights who have created significant, idea-driven works throughout their career.
Additionally, Agyeiwaa Asante and Haruna Lee are the recipients of this year’s Ollie New Play Award. The 2021 Vivace Musical Theatre Awards will be presented to Kirsten Childs, Troy Anthony, and the composer-and-lyricist team Jay Adana and Zeniba Now. Both awards are bestowed with a $30,000 prize.
“The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation has created the Idea Awards for Theatre to encourage expansive, idea-driven artworks with inherently theatrical ways of illuminating big ideas and concepts,” Bruce Ostler, vice president and board member of the foundation, said in a statement. “We hope these nine writers, all of whom are diverse in form and in substance, will carry the torch back into the theatre and show us new ways of imagining.”
The Idea Awards for Theatre will be presented in a virtual streaming ceremony on on April 28, and will feature the winners in conversation with industry leaders.
Jessica Hagedorn is a Filipina American novelist, poet, screenwriter, and editor. Her work for the stage includes adaptations of Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love, as well as collaborations with Urban Bushwomen, Michael Gregory Jackson, and Ntozake Shange and Thulani Davis for Where the Mississippi Meets the Amazon. Her accolades include the Hewlett Foundations’s Playwriting Award, a Lucille Lortel Playwrights’s Fellowship, a Kesselring Prize Honorable Mention for Dogeaters, and a Philippine National Book Award, in addition to fellowships from the Sundance Playwrights’s Lab and Screenwriters’s Lab.
Cherríe Moraga is a poet, playwright, and essayist best known for co-editing the avant-garde feminist work This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Her memoir, Native Country of the Heart, was published in 2019. She is a recipient of the U.S. Artist Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature, and has received two Fund for New American Plays Awards and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)’s Playwrights’s Fellowship. In 2017, Moraga joined the faculty in the Department of English at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she also serves as the co-director of the Las Maestras Center for Xicana and Indigenous Thought, Art and Social Practice.
OyamO’s plays have been performed at the Yale Repertory Theatre; Manhattan Theatre Club; the Public Theater; the Negro Ensemble Company; Penumbra Theatre; Karamu House; Arena Stage; and the Goodman Theatre, among others, as well as at numerous American universities and in Canada and France. He is a former member of the NEA Professional Nonprofit Theatre Panel and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and McKnight Foundations. He received his MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Black Theatre Network, among other organizations, and was previously a professor of theatre at the University of Michigan.
Agyeiwaa Asante is a Ghanaian American playwright and performer whose work has been produced at the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage Festival, the Silver Spring One Act Festival, and the BOLD NYC Festival. She was recently commissioned for the University of Maryland’s NextNow Festival, as well as by Single Carrot Theatre. She is a two-time scholarship recipient from the Ojai Playwrights Conference and is the artistic assistant at Round House Theatre.
Haruna Lee is a Taiwanese Japanese American theatremaker, educator, and community steward committed to promoting arts activism and emergent strategies for theatre through ethical, process-based collaborations. Their work has been produced with Ma-Yi Theater Company; the Bushwick Starr; Soho Rep; New Georges; and Ars Nova, among others. Lee received an Obie Award for their play Suicide Forest and is a MacDowell Fellow, a New Dramatists Van Lier Fellow, and a Mohr Visting Artist Fellow at Stanford University. They are a co-founder and lead facilitator for the Women-Trans-Femme-Non Binary Asian Diasporic Performance Makers Potluck. They received their MFA from Brooklyn College and BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts.
Kirsten Childs is an award-winning writer of musicals, including The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which was recently produced at Theatre Royal Stratford East in the U.K. and at City Center’s Encores! Off-Broadway. She is a recipient of Obie, Kleban, Larson, and Richard Rodgers Awards, as well as Lortel and Drama Desk nominations. Her radio play musical The Edge of Night was part of Playwrights Horizons’ first Soundstage Series. She is currently working on a commission for the Vineyard Theatre and has written for Disney Theatricals, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and Works and Process @ the Guggenheim Museum, among others. Childs is an adjunct professor in the graduate musical theatre writing program at Tisch and is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.
Jay Adana is a hapa musician who is receiving the Vivace Award for Vera & The Battle For New Seoul with Now. Her work has been produced with the Public Theater Studio; 59E59; Ars Nova; Playwrights Horizons Downtown; La Jolla Playhouse; and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, among others. She and Now received the 2020 Jonathan Larson Award for The Loophole and Adana also received the award in 2018. She is a 2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow and received her BFA from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film.
Zeniba Now is a musical storyteller and art scientist from Los Angeles whose work has been produced and featured by PBS’s The Great American Read; the Public Theater; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; the American Theatre Wing; and Dramatist Magazine. Residences and fellowships include #BARS at the Public; SPACE on Ryder Farm; the Independent Film School Fellowship; and the Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellowship.
Troy Anthony is a Kentucky-born composer, director, and theatremaker practicing Black queer joy. His work has been presented at Joe’s Pub; Musical Theatre Factory; Rattlestick Playwrights Theater; Prospect Theater Company; and 54 Below. His commissions include the Public Theater; the Shed; Atlantic Theater Company; and the Civilians. He has also performed with the Public in Hercules, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It. Anthony is a founding director of the Fire Ensemble.
The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation champions visionary playwrights in their creation of expansive, illuminating, and idea-driven theatre. It was created at the bequest of theatrical agent Bret Adams and his partner, Dr. Paul Reisch.
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