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Candrice Jones. (Photo by TheatreSquared.)

Candrice Jones Wins 2023 Kesselring Prize

Jones wins for her play ‘Flex,’ which will open at Lincoln Center Theater this summer.

NEW YORK CITY: The National Arts Club has named Candrice Jones the recipient of the 2023 Kesselring Prize for Playwriting. Jones was nominated by TheatreSquared in Arkansas for her play Flex.

“We congratulate Candrice Jones on this significant honor from her theatrical peers,” David Doty, National Arts Club president, said in a statement. “This recognition confirms that Jones, already now seeing her work produced in the nation’s capital of theater, is and will be an important, strong playwriting voice.”

As Kesselring Prize winner, Jones will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to develop her work at a two week residency at the Tilden Mansion, the home of the National Arts Club. The National Arts Club will present the prize to Jones at a dinner on May 22. Flex will then premiere in New York at Lincoln Center Theater in June.

An Arkansas native, Jones is a Voices of our Nations Arts alum and a Jerome and Many Voices fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. Her work has been developed or read at Theatrical Outfit, the National New Play Network, San Francisco Playhouse, the Arkansas New Play Festival, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, among others. A MacDowell fellow, Jones has received commissions from People’s Light and Actors Theater of Louisville and will be a 2024 resident at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She holds an MFA in Critical Studies from the California Institute of the Arts.

Flex came from Jones’s desire to write “love letters to women of the rural American South.” Set in Arkansas in the 1990s, Flex follows four Black girls who play basketball and is inspired by Jones’s high school basketball experience when the establishment of the Women’s National Basketball Association was announced. The play received a co-world premiere with TheatreSquared and Theatrical Outfit in 2022.

The Kesselring Prize was established at the National Arts Club in 1980 by Charlotte Kesselring, widow of playwright Joseph Kesselring, to honor and support emerging playwrights with an honorarium and development of their work. This year’s prize jury included Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Aly Guirgis.

The National Arts Club was founded in 1898 with a mission to stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts. The Club offers over 150 free programs to the public each year, including exhibitions, performances, lectures, and readings.

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