NEW YORK CITY and CHICAGO: Lookingglass Theatre Company, in partnership with the Adrienne Shelly Foundation (ASF), has named artistic associate Sara Gmitter the first recipient of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Playwrights Award. The playwrights award for women writers comes with a $3,000 prize from ASF, which will support the writing of Gmitter’s new play The Night Witches. Set on the Eastern front of World War II, The Night Witches tells the story of the 588th Night Bombers, a group of Soviet female combat pilots.
“I’m thrilled to be the first recipient of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Playwrights Award,” said Gmitter in a statement. “It has long been my goal to seek out and lift up the stories of women who have been overlooked or underappreciated, so I feel a great kinship for the mission of the ASF and the woman whose memory it honors.”
Gmitter started out as an assistant stage manager at Lookingglass in 1998. She has since stage-managed 42 productions and workshops for the company, and has served as a teaching artist, writer, and director for the Lookingglass young ensemble. Her 2014 mainstage debut, In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story, received a Jeff Award Nomination for Best New Work.
The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women in the arts. It is named after Adrienne Shelly, an actress, writer, and director (best know for the film Waitress) who was murdered in 2006. Since 2007, ASF has awarded over 100 production grants to women filmmakers through partnerships with academic and filmmaking institutions. This partnership with Lookingglass is ASF’s first theatre award.
“This is our first ever grant for a playwright,” said ASF founder and executive director Andy Ostroy in a statement. “Adrienne was a playwright at heart, and theatre was always an important element of her art. She wrote, directed, and acted in many productions, and in her early 20s founded her own theatre company, Missing Children. So partnering with such an esteemed company as Lookingglass to support women playwrights is an exciting and natural evolution for us.”
Lookingglass Theatre Company is a creator of ensemble-driven, story-centered works. The company has a demonstrated history of supporting women as artists and as leaders. The company’s current artistic director, executive director, and board chair are all women, and more than half of Lookingglass directors and nearly half of Lookingglass playwrights have been women. The company currently has 13 plays by women in development.
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