jakub | December 9, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | This Week in Theatre Awards: Steinberg Awards, Pay Your People Grants, and More

Martyna Majok, Mona Mansour, Dena Igusti, Laura Annawyn Shamas, Maria Gobetti, Alexis Nicole Robles, and Lisa Sanaye Dring.

NATIONWIDE: The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust has announced that Martyna Majok and Mona Mansour will receive the 2023 Steinberg Playwright Awards in the amount of $100,000 each. The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to early-to-mid-career playwrights who have distinctive and compelling voices, and whose work exhibits exceptional talent and artistic excellence.

Martyna Majok was born in Bytom, Poland and raised in Jersey and Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her Broadway debut play, Cost of Living, which was nominated for the 2023 Tony Award for Best Play. Her other plays include Sanctuary City, Queens, and Ironbound

Mona Mansour grew up in Southern California, the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant father and an American mother from Seattle. Her plays include Me and the S.L.A, The Vagrant Trilogy (Urge for Going, The Hour of Feeling, and The Vagrant), Unseen, Beginning Days of True Jubilation, The Way West, and We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War.

The members of the 2023 Steinberg Playwright Awards advisory committee included Jeremy B. Cohen, Snehal Desai, Oskar Eustis, Maria Manuela Goyanes, Sarah Lunnie, Neil Pepe, and Hana S. Sharif. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created by Harold Steinberg in 1986 in his name and the name of his late wife, Miriam. The trust aims to support and promote the American theatre by nurturing American playwrights, encouraging the development and production of new American plays, and providing support to not-for-profit theatre companies across the country.

IndieSpace has awarded their annual Pay Your People Grants to 60 recipients. Grantees were chosen by lottery from 291 eligible applicants and were each presented with $1,000 checks during The Big Give, the organization’s annual community building and funding event, at Chelsea Factory on Nov. 28.

Five companies were awarded Deep Roots Grants, which are specifically designated for companies that have been working in indie theatre for more than 25 years. 10 performing arts spaces were awarded Indie Theater Venue Grants, and 45 additional theatre companies and productions were awarded $1,000 grants. Deep Roots Grants were presented to Boomerang Theatre Company, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Danza Espana, International Culture Lab, and Untitled Theater Company No. 61. Indie Theater Venue Grants were awarded to 14Y Theater, 16 Cowries Space, 3am Theater, El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109, Episcopal Actors’ Guild (EAG), FRIGID New York, Greenhouse Arts Center, IRT Theater, Latin American Intercultural Alliance, and WOW Cafe Theater. The full list of grant recipients can be found here.

IndieSpace was established in 2016 to disrupt the ongoing displacement of small theatres and to create a new model for equitable funding for the indie theatre community. The organization seeks to provide transparent, responsive, and equity-focused funding, real estate programs, professional development, and advocacy to individual artists, theatre companies, and indie venues.

The New York Foundation for the Arts has named Dena Igusti the inaugural recipient of the Ryan Hudak LGBTQ+ Award. Founded in honor of playwright Ryan Hudak, who died in May 2022 at age 32 after a long battle with leukemia, this award recognizes a New York state-based playwright who identifies as LGBTQ+ with a $10,000 cash grant.

Dena Igusti is an Indonesian Muslim writer born and raised in Queens, N.Y. They are the author of Cut Woman (Game Over Books, 2020) and I Need This to Not Swallow Me Alive (Gingerbug Press, 2021). They are the co-playwright of the wish: a manual for a last-ditch effort to save abortion in the united states through theater (2023 A is For Play Winner). They are also the founder of Dearest Mearest, a multimedia platform for arts and arts accessibility.

The Los Angeles New Play Project has announced the winning playwrights and producers of the LANPP 2023 theatre production grants. Awards of up to $40,000 are presented in two parts: a $20,000 award to playwrights for new, unproduced plays, and a follow-up award to producers of up to $20,000 for the play’s premiere production, which must take place in Los Angeles County and be presented by a small-to-mid-sized theatrical producing entity.

This year’s LANPP grant recipients are playwrights Lisa Sanaye Dring and Laura Annawyn Shamas, and producers Alexis Nicole Robles of Rogue Artists Ensemble and Maria Gobetti of Victory Theatre Center.

Lisa Sanaye Dring’s play, Happy Fall: A Queer Stunt Spectacular, will be produced in 2024 by Rogue Artists Ensemble with a full production that comes to life as an interactive stunt show, with life-size puppets, special effects, and death-defying physical acts. The play, which had a successful workshop earlier this year, is based on true-life stories and direct testimonies illuminating issues of racial and cultural identity in Hollywood. Dring is an Emmy-nominated writer, director, and actor originally from Hilo, Hawaii, and Reno, Nevada. This season Lisa’s play SUMO was co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Ma-Yi Theater Company and Hungry Ghost was produced by Skylight Theatre.

Laura Annawyn Shamas’s play Four Women in Red centers around a group of Native American women who search for and mourn Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW). The play, which was presented at the 2022 Festival of New Plays as part of the Autry Museum’s Native Voices program, will be produced by the Victory Theatre Сenter. A monologue from Four Women… was published in the Smith & Kraus The Best Women’s Monologues 2022. Initial dramaturgical support for the play came from the Indigenous Writers Collaborative at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Laura Annawyn Shamas is a Los Angles playwright and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. She’s written 40 plays and is currently writing a novel.

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