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Fichandler Award, Blackburn Finalists, Ma-Yi Writers, and More

A roundup of prizes, fellowships, and other recognitions.

NEW YORK CITY: The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) has announced that Raymond O. Caldwell, producing artistic director of D.C.’s Theater Alliance, will receive the 2023 Zelda Fichandler Award. Named for the founding artistic director of Arena Stage, the annual award recognizes directors and choreographers who have demonstrated great accomplishments to date with singular creativity and deep investment in a particular community or region. Caldwell will receive an unrestricted award of $5,000. The award focuses on a different region each year, with this year’s nominees coming from the Eastern United States. May Adrales and Tinashe Kajese-Bolden were selected as finalists. These artists will be recognized in a virtual ceremony in spring 2024.

Raymond O. Caldwell.

Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and raised all over the world, Raymond O. Caldwell is an award-winning director and producer who has served as the producing artistic director of Theater Alliance since 2018. He has directed for Signature Theatre, Round House, Imagination Stage, Mosaic Theater, the Kennedy Center, National Players/OTC, Solas Nua, CulturalDC, African Continuum, and the Hegira. Prior to leading Theater Alliance, he was a faculty member and resident director in Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts for six years, and spent six seasons as the community engagement partnership manager at Arena Stage. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State and Contact Base, he developed a play in 2022 with artists and activists from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and the U.S. exploring the meaning of I.D.E.A on the global stage. He has done similar work throughout the U.S., India, Ukraine, and Croatia.

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation celebrates, develops, and supports professional stage directors and choreographers throughout every phase of their careers.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.: The Leah Ryan Fund has announced that playwright Tammy Ryan will be the inaugural recipient of The Boost, a new commission awarded to a woman, trans, or non-binary playwright over forty. The winner will receive a cash award to write a play in conversation with Leah Ryan’s play The Wire.

Ryan plans to develop the proposed play Tutankhamun or the Last Pharaoh in Queens (working title). Set in New York City in 1978 and in the present, the play will center on the transportation of the King Tut exhibit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This new work is slated to have a public reading in spring 2025.

Tammy Ryan.

Tammy Ryan’s plays have been performed, commissioned and developed at theatres across the United States and internationally, including the Alliance Theater, City Theater, Florida Stage, Marin Theater Company, People’s Light, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Portland Stage Company, and Theatre Lab among others. She received the American Theater Critics Association’s Francesca Primus Prize for Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods and the American Alliance of Theater in Education’s Distinguished New Play Award for The Music Lesson. Ryan was also named a 2020 Haas fellow for her play Take My Hand And Wave Goodbye. Her other works include Seven Cousins For A HorseThe WakeMolly’s HammerSoldier’s Heart, and Baby’s Blues.

The Leah Ryan Fund was established in 2008 to honor the memory of Leah Ryan, a woman of letters who wrote plays, poetry, essays, lyrics, adaptations, and collaborated with performance artists. In 2010 the Fund began giving out its annual prize, The Leah, to encourage and support the work of women, trans, and non-binary playwrights.

Lisa Sanaye Dring, Ankita Raturi, Minghao Tu, Maureen Sebastian, Ren Dara Santiago, Liqing Xu, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Mia Chung, Katelynn Kenney and Naveen Bahar Choudhury.

NEW YORK CITY: Ma-Yi Theater Company has announced that Lisa Sanaye Dring has been awarded a 2024 Tow Foundation Playwright Residency. This year-long residency provides a full-time salary and health benefits. During her residency, Dring will work with producing artistic director Ralph B. Peña to refine her play SUMO, which had its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in a co-production with Ma-Yi in October 2023, and is slated for its New York premiere in 2024.

SUMO won an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was recently nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. In 2024, Dring’s work will be produced by East West Players, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Rogue Artists Ensemble, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Ma-Yi also announced the members of the 2024 Writers Lab cohort. Six new participants—Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Katelynn Kenney, Ankita Raturi, Ren Dara Santiago, Minghao Tu, and Liqing Xu—will join legacy members Naveen Bahar Choudhury, Mia Chung, and Maureen Sebastian. This professional peer-based workshop is the largest collective of AANHPI playwrights in the country. The theatre provides lab members with rehearsal facilities and development support for workshops and readings.

Ma-Yi Theatre Company is a nonprofit arts organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Roxy Cook, April De Angelis, Justice Hehir, Rhianna Ilube, Jasmine Naziha Jones, Alex Lin, Lenelle Moïse, Hannah Moscovitch, a.k. payne, and Ava Pickett

NEW YORK CITY and LONDON: The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has selected 10 finalists for the prestigious playwriting award. Now in its 46th year, the Blackburn Prize is the largest and oldest playwriting award recognizing women+ writers for plays of outstanding quality written for the English-speaking theatre.

Chosen from over 200 submitted plays, this year’s finalists are Roxy Cook (U.K.-Russia), A Woman Walks Into a Bank; April De Angelis (UK), The Divine Mrs S; Justice Hehir (U.S.), The Dowagers; Rhianna Ilube (U.K.), Samuel Takes a Break…,In Male Dungeon No. 5 After a Long But Generally Successful Day of Tours; Jasmine Naziha Jones (U.K.), Baghdaddy; Alex Lin (U.S.), Chinese Republicans; Lenelle Moïse (U.S.), K-I-S-S-I-N-G; Hannah Moscovitch (CAN), Red Like Fruit; a.k. payne (U.S.) Love I Awethu Further; and Ava Pickett (U.K.), 1536.

The winner will be announced at a celebration at London’s Royal Court Theatre on March 11. The winner will be awarded $25,000 and will also receive a signed and numbered print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the prize. A special commendation of $10,000 may be given at the discretion of the judges, and each finalist will receive $5,000. The judges for the 2024 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize are Inua Ellams, Sarah Mantell, April Matthis, Clare Perkins, Eric Ting, and Lyndsey Turner.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize honors the late American actor, feminist, and writer Susan Smith Blackburn who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life.  For more information about the prize, the finalists, and each of their plays, please visit

The 2024 ‘What Can We Do?’ grant recipients.

NEW YORK CITY: The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) has announced the recipients of What Can We Do? (WCWD?) grants. The program was created in 2022 in response to the alarming increase in anti-Asian hate and violence during the pandemic and offers $1,500 stipends to artists who use their creative skills to offer community care to Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) New Yorkers. Over 25 artists will present a total of 18 projects in an array of disciplines to bring joy, care, and cultural pride to AAPI communities in Chinatown, Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, now through early June 2024.

The 2024 recipients are Huiyi Chen with Yuanya Feng; Claire Choi; Caroline Chou with Angeli Magdaraog and Sally Kong; River 瑩瑩 Dandelion; Jody Doo in collaboration with Spellbound Theatre; Wesley Han; Banyi Huang; Anna Huang of Mott Street Girls; Cindy Hwang of Art Against Displacement; Dena Igusti; Nami Kagami; Linda Kuo; Cathleen Luo; Kathleen Ma with Alice Wang, Julie Chen, and Reb Ngu; Philip Poon; Tian Tang; Carrie Wang; and Rohan Zhou-Lee.

The Asian American Arts Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening Asian American artists and cultural groups through resource sharing, promotion, and community building.

Drama Tops (performance duo Elby Brosch and Shane Donohue), Akoiya Harris, Ankita Sharma, Naomi Macalalad Bragin, and Amy O’Neal.

SEATTLE: Base Art Space has announced that its 2023-24 Resident Artists will be Drama Tops (performance duo Elby Brosch and Shane Donohue), Akoiya Harris, Ankita Sharma (New York), Naomi Macalalad Bragin, and Amy O’Neal (California).

The Base Residency program is an artist-curated program that offers resident artists two weeks of 24/7 access to Base for development, self-challenge, and experimentation. This year’s program was curated by Nia-Amina Minor, Bennyroyce Royon, and Parmida Ziaei. The 2023-24 program supports three Washington state-based artists/collectives and two artists located outside of Washington with a suite of resources, including unrestricted space; technical, marketing, and administrative support; and a financial stipend. Each residency wraps with an Entry Point, a free public event that connects the community with the resident artists. Find out more about this year’s resident artists and their projects here.

Base is a nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating risk and invention in dance, performance, and multidisciplinary art.

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