NEW YORK CITY: The Dramatists Guild of America has announced Mariam Bazeed and Rhiana Yazzie as the co-recipients of the 2021 Lanford Wilson Award, which will provide each winner with a $20,000 cash prize. The award is presented annually to a dramatist, based primarily on their work as an early career playwright. An awards ceremony will be announced at a later date.
“This year’s selection committee had the opportunity to consider so many extraordinary nominees from all over the country, and the amount of talent they found among emerging and early-career playwrights is prodigious,” said Lloyd Suh, chair of the Guild’s awards committee, in a statement. “We’re so proud to recognize Mariam Bazeed and Rhiana Yazzie, who in their own very distinctive ways write with palpable personal urgency, rigorous social consciousness, and beautiful theatrical ingenuity. On behalf of the Dramatists Guild Council, we’re so excited to support the continuation of their work in the world.”
The Lanford Wilson Award is named after the Pulitzer-winning and Tony-nominated playwright who died in 2011. The award was established in his name thanks to a contribution from his estate and a matching contribution from the guild.
Mariam Bazeed is a nonbinary Egyptian immigrant, writer, editor, spoken word artist, performer, and cook living in Brooklyn. An alliteration-leaning writer of prose, poetry, plays, and personal essays, Mariam received their MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. Their work in all genres is in print and online, and their plays have been presented in festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Their play, Kilo Batra: In Death More Radiant, will be produced at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., in late 2021. They’re currently at work on a book-length erasure poem of the hyper-racist text, The Arab Mind; on revising their play, faggy faafi Cairo boy; and, with visual artist Jacob Nader, on a hybrid book of images and poems, tentatively titled post-mortem family vacation.
Rhiana Yazzie is a 2020 Steinberg award winning playwright, a director, a filmmaker, and artistic director of New Native Theatre (Minneapolis/St. Paul). A citizen of the Navajo Nation, she’s been a Playwrights’ Center fellow multiple times (McKnight 2016-17 and Jerome 2006 & 2010). Her newest play is Nancy, a Native bio-perspective on Nancy Reagan, a sequel to Queen Cleopatre and Princess Pocahontas, a play commissioned by OSF and the Public Theater for the American Revolutions cycle. She has just completed her first feature film, A Winter Love which will premiere at the Wairoa Maori International Film Festival in New Zealand, June 2021.
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