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Van Lier Fellows, NY Drama Critics Circle, Herb Alpert Awards, and More

A roundup of prizes, fellowships, and other recognitions.

NEW YORK CITY: Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) has named Lianah Sta. Ana (acting) and Borna Barzin (directing) as the organization’s 2024 Van Lier Fellows in Theatre. The fellowship includes an unrestricted cash stipend of $7,500 and eight months of professional development training and career support to help them reach the next milestone in their careers.

Lianah Sta. Ana is an Asian American artist of Filipino descent. She made her Broadway debut at 17 years old in the revival of Miss Saigon and earned a B.A. in ethnicity and race studies from Columbia University. Borna Barzin is a director, writer, and arts administrator based in Brooklyn, N.Y. He recently served as a guest artist at NYU Tisch, where he directed Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding and Charles Mee’s Summertime at Atlantic Stage 2.

This fellowship is made possible with support from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund through the New York Community Trust. The 2024 Van Lier review panel included Zi Alikhan, Miranda Cornell, Daniel K. Isaac, Peter Kim, and Moses Villarama.


NEW YORK CITY: The Dramatists Guild Foundation has announced that the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program (YIPAP) has received the 2024 Lucille Lortel Foundation Indigenous Theatremaker Award. This honor recognizes an Indigenous theatre institution or organization for their work and commitment to the preservation and upliftment of Indigenous theatremakers located in New York or Connecticut. The award, which was presented during the Dramatists Guild Awards celebration on May 6, comes with $20,000 to further the recipient’s important work.

YIPAP was selected for showcasing the importance of Indigenous storytelling and developing a space for Native performers and theatre artists at all levels in their careers. The program strives to promote and cultivate Indigenous storytelling and performance to further authentic representation at Yale, across Indian Country, and throughout the field. Their core annual offerings include the Young Native Playwrights Contest, the Misty Upham Award for Young Native Actors, and the Annual Yale New Native Play Festival, and more.


ATLANTA: True Colors Theatre Company has named Raichel West the 2024 winner of its Next Narrative National Monologue Competition (NNMC) National Finals. The finals were held last week at the Apollo’s new Victoria Theater in New York City and featured performances by 14 high school finalists, chosen from regional partner theatres. NNMC commissions 51 original monologues for the competition, written by 20 contemporary Black playwrights.

Representing Milwaukee Rep in Wisconsin, West is a senior at Milwaukee Marshall High School and only began acting six months ago. She received a $3,000 scholarship for her performance of ”One Second,” a monologue written by Rachel Lynet. Second place winner Ronnie McCoy, representing True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, received a $2,000 scholarship, and third-place finisher Maya Buckman, representing New York City LEAP, received a $1,000 scholarship.

The other finalists included Z’rena Williams (True Colors Theatre Company), Colin Mauceli and Emily Guerrero (the Huntington in Boston), Krrish Parekh and Isha Kurlekar (Southern Methodist University in Dallas), Dayanara Sanchez (Milwaukee Rep), Nijon Williams (New York City LEAP), Katie Cooper and Darnell Peak (Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project in Pittsburgh), and Joshua Rhodes and Lyric Coley (Seattle Rep). In addition to the cash prizes, contestants Lyric Coley of Seattle and Katie Cooper of Pittsburgh were recognized for embodying the spirit of the program, which is about connecting over competition.

While visiting New York, the NNMC finalists received a professional photo session, attended a performance of Hell’s Kitchen, and went on a tour of the historic Apollo Theatre. They also had the opportunity to spend time backstage with True Colors Theatre founder Kenny Leon at the rehearsal theatre for the Broadway play Home.


NATIONWIDE: The Herb Alpert Foundation has presented this year’s Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts (HAAIA) to 10 risk-taking mid-career artists and experimenters who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. Panelists selected two award recipients in each of five disciplines: dance, film/video, music, theatre, and visual arts.

Theatre award winners include Robin Frohardt and Cannupa Hanska Luger. They will each receive a $75,000 unrestricted prize and a residency at the California Institute of the Arts.

Frohardt, a playwright, director, and puppet designer who also works in sculpture and film, was awarded for the “rigor, detail, and whimsy” of her work. Luger is an interdisciplinary artist who is being awarded for “intersecting the social and political dynamics with purposive spectacle” in his work. Luger is known for his performance art work and installations.

The panelists for the HAAIA theatre awards included Nataki Garrett of One Nation/One Project, Maria Goyanes of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Meiyin Wang of the Perelman Performing Arts Center.


BLOOMINGTON, IND.: Constellation Stage & Screen has named Jamie Floyd and Mêlisa Annis the winners of the 2024-25 Woodward/Newman Award for their musical The King’s Wife. The award for an unpublished script comes with a $3,000 cash prize, and The King’s Wife will be produced during Constellation’s mainstage season.

The pop musical imagines a secret friendship and power struggle between Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, the first two wives of Henry VIII. Annis is an award-winning playwright, while Floyd is a Grammy Award-nominated songwriter.

The Woodward/Newman Award celebrates Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s history of work onstage and onscreen. It is financed by the Newman family, Woodward, and the Newman’s Own Foundation.


COLUMBUS, OHIO: The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at the Ohio State University has named Idris Goodwin the recipient of the 2024 Margo Jones Award. The award, established in 1961, is presented annually to an artist who “has demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting.”

Goodwin is the artistic director of Seattle Children’s Theatre and is a playwright and director. He is the president of the board of Theatre for Young Audiences/USA. In addition to his busy theatre career, Goodwin also published his first picture book, Your House is Not Just A House, this year.


POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.: The Leah Ryan Fund has named Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin the winner of the 2024 Leah Prize for their play Ping Pong Play. The award honors the memory of Leah Ryan and encourages and supports the work of women, trans, and nonbinary playwrights. Garvin will receive a $5,000 cash award and a public reading and workshop of Ping Pong Play at the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College.

Ping Pong Play imagines a speculative future informed by militarism and climate change, impacting how two best friends and ping pong players can connect with each other at the end of the world.

The Leah Ryan Fund also awarded honorable mention citations to Ella Boureau for FUCKING AJAX! An Appalachian Gay Soul Suicide (with Music); to Makeda Declet for Darlings; and to Samah Meghjee for Maybe You Could Love Me. This year’s finalists included Kendra Augustin, Katie Đỗ, Brittany Fisher, Alyssa Haddad-Chin, Julia Izumi, Shanti Reinhardt, Nia Akilah Robinson, Esperanza Rosales Balcarcel and Bailey Williams.


MALVERN, PA.: People’s Light has named playwrights Vichet Chum, Donja R. Love, and Ro Reddick the next cohort of Queerways, PA, a new-play and community engagement initiative.

The cohort will complete an 18-month residency in Chester County and the Philadelphia area, engaging with numerous local LGBTQ+ and BIPOC organizations. They will write new plays inspired by these community conversations, joining other People’s Light commissioned playwrights Suli Holum, Lisa Ramirez, and Guadalís Del Carmen.


SAN DIEGO, CALIF.: Cygnet Theatre has named Olivia Clement the recipient of the second annual Dee Silver, M.D. commission. Cygnet Theatre will host a reading of Clement’s play Iris, a portrayal of a woman’s search for connection in the wake of a miscarriage.

This year’s Dee Silver, M.D. commission was made in partnership with the Iowa Playwrights Workshop to allow a current MFA student at the University of Iowa the opportunity to refine a new play. Clement is a 2023 graduate of the program.

The commission is made possible thanks to Dee Silver, M.D.’s contributions to Cygnet Theatre.


NEW YORK CITY: The New York Drama Critics’ Circle held their 88th annual voting to decide their 2024 award recipients. David Adjmi’s Stereophonic was named Best Play; the team will be presented with a $2,500 cash prize from the Lucille Lortel Foundation. Dead Outlaw was named Best Musical.

A joint special citation was also awarded to the revivals of Merrily We Roll Along and Purlie Victorious. A second joint special citation was awarded to actors Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders for lifetime achievement. A third special citation was awarded to writer and composer Heather Christian for Terce: A Practical Breviary.

The organization is comprised of 21 critics from daily newspapers, magazines, wire services, and websites based in the New York area and presents the country’s second-oldest playwriting award.

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