jakub | April 5, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | Windham-Campbell Prizes, L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award, and More


NEW HAVEN, CONN.: Yale University has announced the winners of the 2024 Windham-Campbell Prizes for fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. The drama winners include Christopher Chen of the United States and Sonya Kelly of Ireland.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes award $175,000 to writers to support their work and allow them to focus on creative practices independent of financial concerns.

Chen is a playwright from San Francisco who won an Obie Award for his play Caught, which implicates audiences in questions of art, history, identity, and experience.

“Christopher Chen challenges our relationship to truth and accuracy, spectatorship and performance, repeatedly disrupting our expectations of drama and form,” the prize selection committee, which is anonymous, said in a statement.

Kelly, one of the most exciting Irish voices of the past decade, is known for her plays Once Upon a Bridge and The Last Return.

“Sonya Kelly’s plays sparkle with the quirkiness of the everyday, exploding fleeting moments into lyrical revelations, as she grapples with human fragility and pathos,” the selection committee said.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes are named for lifelong partners Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell and were first awarded in 2013.


WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.: Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) has named Beth Hyland the recipient of the 2024 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award. Hyland will receive the $10,000 award for her play SYLVIA SYLVIA SYLVIA and will receive an additional $10,000 as a commission to write a new play.

SYLVIA SYLVIA SYLVIA will receive a reading this summer at WTF as part of the Fridays@3 series for new works in development. Additionally, the Geffen Playhouse has committed to further development for the piece in the 2024-24 season. The play follows a novelist who, grappling with writer’s block and her husband’s rise to literary fame, seeks solace in the Boston apartment once inhabited by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

WTF administers the Weissberger New Play Award on behalf of the Anna L. Weissberger Foundation and WTF trustee emeritus Fredda Harris.


NORTH HAVEN, CONN.: The Burry Fredrik Foundation has named Omid Akbari the recipient of this year’s Burry Fredrik Design Fellowship. The scenic designer will receive a $10,000 award.

“Omid Akbari is an outstanding addition to the remarkable group of Burry Fredrik Design Fellows from David Geffen School of Drama,” foundation chair Barbara L. Pearce said in a statement. “We are proud to support their work”

Akbari is a scenic designer and costume concept artist in his fourth year of the MFA program in set design at David Geffen School of Drama. He served as the scenic designer for Yale Repertory Theatre’s Wish You Were Here in 2023. He has worked extensively in scenic and costume design in his native Iran.

The Burry Fredrik Design Fellowship was established in 2017 to help launch the careers of graduates from David Geffen School of Drama’s design programs.


HOUSTON: Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) has announced the 2024 recipients of the Tommy Tune Awards. Named for Houston native Tommy Tune, the awards recognize young adults who contribute to theatre programming in high schools in the greater Houston community.

Of the 28 Tommy Tune Award nominees for Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role, two were selected to represent TUTS at the Jimmy Awards, a national celebration of high school musical theatre achievement. Those students are Alyssa Dorsey for her performance in G.W. Carver High School’s The Bodyguard and Eliran Masti for The Prom at Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Runners-up include Natalie Green for Follies at Bridgeland High School and Michael Deis for Stratford High School’s 42nd Street.

The Spirit Award was presented to Immanuel Poole of Westfield High School for the teen edition of the musical Chicago. TUTS also recognized the ensembles of SIX: Teen Edition at Dulles High School, The Wizard of Oz at South Houston High School, Mamma Mia! at Klein High School, and After Midnight at Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A full list of winners is available here.


NEW YORK CITY: In Scena! Italian Theater Festival has named Fabio Bonfo the recipient of this year’s Mario Fratti Award. Bonfo has won for his play El Desaparecido and will be presented with the award at the festival’s closing ceremony on May 13. The ceremony will include a reading directed by Laura Caparrotti.

El Desaparecido follows Argentine journalist and comic strip artist Héctor Germán Oesterheld in a story that mixes fantasy and reality amidst Oesterheld’s 1977 disappearance. The play will receive an English translation and be published as part of the Mario Fratti Award.

Bonfo is a native of Vercelli, Italy and has worked as an actor, playwright, director, and educator throughout Italy, Chile, and Argentina.


NEW YORK CITY: The Mellon Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Garlia Cornelia Jones of Blackboard Plays and John Sloan III of Obsidian Theater Festival in support of the Propulsion Theatre Project (PTP). The partnership project is dedicated to creating work that amplifies the theatre ecosystem of Detroit.

As part of their first year of programming, PTP will launch an annual symposium to bring together theatremakers across Detroit. Panelists for the June symposium will discuss parenting in the arts, directing, and advocacy. PTP will partner with for-profit, nonprofit, and municipal entities in Detroit to propel cultural exchange, workforce development, artistic creativity, and economic empowerment.

Both Detroit natives, Jones and Sloan have over two decades of experience creating and producing work for Black and underserved populations through their arts organizations.

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