NEW YORK CITY: The National Theatre Conference (NTC) has announced Sanaz Toossi as the winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award in recognition of her play Wish You Were Here, unanimously selected by NTC’s Stavis committee. Besides the award, Toossi will be granted an honorarium of $2,000 during NTC’s annual meeting in December 2021. The gathering will include a reading of Wish You Were Here followed by a moderated discussion of the play and Toossi’s career so far.
Wish You Were Here takes place in 1978 as protests break out across Iran. It focuses on a suburb encroached with turmoil, where a tight-knit circle of girlfriends plans weddings, trades dirty jokes, and tries to hang onto normalcy. As the revolution escalates, each woman is forced to join the wave of emigration or face an equally uncertain future at home.
“The story was inspired by her mother and friends in Iran, it poured out of her over the course of a feverish 36 hours,” said Lizzie Stern, literary manager at Playwrights Horizons, in a statement. “Perhaps it is because Sanaz wrote this play so fast and so intuitively that the story is as vulnerable and specific—and, as a result, emotionally powerful—as it is.”
“Toossi’s plays playfully and pointedly challenge the status quo, and reject the victim narrative often attached to Iranian women,” said Evren Odcikin, associate artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in a statement. “Sanaz’s characters are funny, joyful, and flawed beings that live full lives within their difficult circumstances.”
Said Toossi in a statement, “I aim to write plays attuned to the beauty of language, the weight of tradition, and the difficulty of traversing national borders while crafting my Iranian characters with a deep appreciation for the culture that shaped them and the longings that drive them.”
Wish You Were Here, developed with Williamstown Theatre Festival, Page 73, and Playwrights Horizons, will have its world premiere, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch at New York’s Playwrights Horizons April 13-May 22, 2022. It is also the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.
Toossi is an Iranian American playwright from Orange County, Calif. She is currently commissioned at the Atlantic Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Repertory, IAMA Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (American Revolutions Cycle). Sanaz is a member of Youngblood and the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at the Lark and an alum of Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers’ Group. She was the 2019 P73 playwriting fellow and a recipient of the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award. Sanaz is a proud child of immigrants.
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