WASHINGTON, D.C.: Theater J has announced Maggie Lou Rader and her play The Helpers as the winner of the 2021 Patty Abramson Jewish Play Prize. The prize, to be awarded along with the Trish Vradenburg New Jewish Play Prize on Dec. 7 in Washington, D.C., includes a $3,000 prize and a staged reading.
The Patty Abramson Jewish Play Prize awards an emerging woman playwright in honor of a new play that celebrates, explores, and/or struggles with the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience. It is dedicated to the memory of philanthropist and venture capitalist Patty Abramson. Theater J staff, affiliated artists, and council members evaluated 83 scripts for this year’s award. The final selection committee included Leigh Silverman, Shawna M. James, Felicia M. Curry, and Michele Berman.
Alongside Rader’s The Helpers, finalists for this year’s award were Screech Owl by Madison Fiedler and Damsels by Jenny Rachel Weiner.
“Maggie Lou Rader’s The Helpers is simply a phenomenal play,” said Adam Immerwahr, Theater J’s artistic director, in a statement. “It is a fascinating journey into the world of Anne Frank, exploring a side of the story that is often overlooked. I am so thrilled that our selection committee decided to honor Patty Abramson’s memory by recognizing this gripping new work by a promising emerging writer.”
The Helpers, inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, follows Miep Gies, an immigrant and secretary for Otto Frank’s famous Opekta Company. In this story of joy, hope, friendship, and resistance, Gies leads a group of helpers to preserve the residents of the secret annex and the spirit of goodness and survival during World War II.
“It fills my heart with joy to know that this story continues to speak to others as it does to me,” said Rader in a statement. “I’m incredibly grateful to Theater J, the prize committee, and of course, the Abramson family for allowing The Helpers to be recognized in such a way that allows the story of Miep, the Franks, and the helpers, to continue on in the form of a new theatrical work.”
Maggie Lou Rader (she/her) is a produced playwright, member of the Dramatist’s Guild, and AEA Actor who aims to tell epic stories of epic women. She has degrees from William Jewell College in Kansas City and the Birmingham School of Acting in the U.K., and has called Cincinnati home for nearly 10 years. She has been the winner of the Notre Dame College New Play festival, a finalist for the Henley Rose Playwright Competition for Women, Utah Shakespeare’s Words Cubed, and Central Florida Community Arts TYA New Play and Musical Festival. She has had her work developed at the Theatre School at DePaul University and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and her plays have been produced at Know Theatre of Cincinnati, InBocca Performance. As a performer, she has performed in over 75 professional productions with Know Theatre, StageOne, the Human Race Theatre, Kentucky Shakespeare, and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, and she’s been a resident actor with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for 10 seasons. In Cincinnati, she lives happily on her homestead with husband Justin, and three fur babies with four eyes between them.
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