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Gloria Majule.

Gloria Majule’s ‘Culture Shock’ Wins 2023 Leah Prize

Winners of the playwriting prize receive a $5,000 cash award, a public reading, and a summer workshop as part of Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater Season.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.: The Leah Ryan Fund has announced that Gloria Majule’s Culture Shock is the winner of the 2023 Leah Prize. The prize comes with a $5,000 cash award, and the play will have a public reading on the Vassar College campus on July 1, directed by Shariffa Ali, as part of the college’s Powerhouse Theater Season.

“Each year, it’s always a privilege and an honor to remember Leah Ryan and her spirit by adding another strong theatrical voice to our growing list of winners,” said board member Ed Cheetham in a statement.

Majule’s play concerns two African students, Zahra from Tanzania and Hawi from Kenya, at an Ivy League institution who are placed in Salama House, an all-Black dorm and affinity space for Black students. Faced with cultural, academic, and economic challenges, Zahra and Hawi try to make it through freshman year, while reckoning with the reality of what it means to be Black in America.

The Leah Ryan Fund began giving out its annual prize in 2010 to honor the memory of Ryan, a woman who wrote plays, poetry, essays, lyrics, and adaptations, and to encourage and support the work of brilliant and unrecognized women, trans, and non-binary playwrights. It is the purpose of the prize to perpetuate the integrity, compassion, and creativity that Ryan herself possessed and inspired in others. This year the fund also awarded honorable mention citations to Carolina Đỗ’s ĂN CHƠI: eat. play. rage. (A don’t fuck with the weekend shift play) and to Daria Marinelli’s Beautiful Blessed Child.

Gloria Majule is a playwright from Dodoma, Tanzania, presently residing in Seattle. She seeks to tell stories that bring multiple Black voices together from across the world, and are accessible to Black audiences no matter where they are. She writes plays about Africans and the African diaspora. Majule is an inaugural recipient of Atlantic Theater Company‘s Judith Champion Launch Commission, and her plays have been developed at Great Plains Theatre Commons, A is For, Alliance Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, and Aye Defy. She has been in residency at New York Stage and Film and Stockton University. Gloria has taught Playwriting at Cornish College of the Arts, and has guest lectured at University of Washington and University Puget Sound.

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