jakub | December 18, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | This Week in Theatre Awards: Catalyst Fellows, Theater J Play Prizes, and More


Anu Yadav, Christine Toy Johnson, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Erlina Ortiz, Ife Olujobi, Matthew Paul Olmos, Melissa Li and Kit Yan, Noa Gardner, Roger Q. Mason, Zachariah Ezer, Sharyn Rothstein, Emily Feldman, Sue Frost, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Paul Libin, Rochelle Chang, Talya Epstein, Lisa Jantze, Edgar Page and Hollie Wright.

The Dramatists Guild Foundation (DGF) has announced the recipients of the Catalyst Fellowship, a new program that invests in the voices of Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latiné innovators to radically imagine solutions to equity, social justice, and needed change in theatre through new developmental programs in their local and national artistic communities. The fellows include Anu Yadav, Christine Toy Johnson, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Erlina Ortiz, Ife Olujobi, Matthew Paul Olmos, Melissa Li, Kit Yan, Noa Gardner, Roger Q. Mason, and Zachariah Ezer.

Fellows will dedicate two years to ideation and experimentation, working to deliver significant and deliberate change in various areas, including the environment, economy, race and identity, cultural preservation, and LGBTQIA rights. Each Catalyst fellow will receive $30,000 each year ($60,000 in total), as well as resources to support the development and implementation of their respective project proposals. 

Playwright and DGF board member Branden Jacobs-Jenkins worked with a committee of fellow writers and industry leaders to select program participants and determine funding distribution. The Catalyst Fellowship is made possible with generous support from C. Graham Berwind III.


Theater J has awarded the 2023 Patty Abramson Jewish Play Commission to Emily Feldman and the Trish Vradenburg New Jewish Play Prize to Sharyn Rothstein for her play adaptation of Hester Street. The commission, dedicated to Theater J council founder Patty Abramson, awards $3,000 to a promising emerging woman playwright whose work celebrates, explores, and/or struggles with the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience. This is the first year that the Patty Abramson Jewish Play Prize has been presented as a commission to support the creation of a new play. Now in its fourth year, Trish Vradenburg New Jewish Play Prize recognizes a new play that celebrates, explores, and/or struggles with the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience. The prize awards $15,000 to an established playwright in honor of a new Jewish play, and is dedicated to the memory of philanthropist, playwright, and Alzheimer’s research advocate Trish Vradenburg, who served on Theater J’s Council for 13 years.

Feldman’s work has been developed by Magic Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, the Playwrights Realm, Portland Center Stage, New York Stage and Film, the New Harmony Project, the Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, American Conservatory Theater, and Second Stage, among others. Rothstein’s adaptation of the film Hester Street, featuring music by Joel Waggoner, will premiere at Theater J this spring, followed by the premiere of her book-banning drama Bad Books at Round House Theatre in 2025. Her other plays include By the Water, All the Days, Right to Be Forgotten, and Deep Fake.


The Broadway League presented its 2023 Broadway League Leadership Awards to three recipients during the league’s annual meeting on Tues. Sue Frost received the Member of the Year Award, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack received the Distinguished Service Award, and Paul Libin received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Frost is a founding member of Junkyard Dog Productions, which is dedicated to developing and producing new musicals. Some of the company’s shows include Come From Away, MemphisFirst Date, and Doctor Zhivago. Jennings-Roggensack is ASU vice president for cultural affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage, including responsibility for ASU Kerr Cultural Center, Desert Financial Arena, and ASU 365 Community Union, an initiative to transform Sun Devil Stadium into a year-round hub of cultural activity. Libin is president of Circle in the Square Theatre and Theatre School and has produced more than 250 productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and on tour. Libin recently retired as executive vice president and producing director of Jujamcyn Theaters after 28 years.


The Entertainment Community Fund has announced five recipients of the 2023 Alex Dubé Scholarship Program. This year the fund awarded $10,000 scholarships to Rochelle ChangTalya EpsteinLisa JantzeEdgar Page, and Hollie Wright. The program is named for Alex J. Dubé, a former dancer, dance advocate, and president of Career Transition For Dancers. Through the scholarship program, Career Transition For Dancers is able to support the education of dancers to build their next professional platforms. These one-time awards of up to $10,000 per recipient are distributed annually to dancers enrolled in accredited graduate degree programs to assist in tuition payment.

Chang, a former ballet dancer, is an elementary school teacher pursuing an MEd in Curriculum Studies, at the University of Hawaiʻi, College of Education. Epstein is a dance artist turned somatic healing practitioner currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Social Work at Smith College School of Social Work. Jantzie is currently attending Columbia School of Nursing MDE/DNP program and is working towards a career as a nurse practitioner, following a 20-year career that has spanned ballet companies, precision dance, musical theatre, and film and TV. Page, who formerly performed with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, toured domestically and internationally for a decade, and established the Edgar L. Page: Feel the Movement arts initiative, is now completing his MFA at Hollins University while serving as assistant professor of dance at Grand Valley State University. And Wright began her professional career at the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!) and went on to perform in Hot Feet, Thoughts of a Colored Man, The Color Purple, OklahomaAmazing Grace, and Cabin in the Sky. She is pursuing an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts with a Performance Creation Concentration at Goddard College.

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