The American Playwriting Foundation (Executive Director David Bar Katz), established to make annual grants to new American plays, has selected Aleshea Harris for The 2016 Relentless Award, the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a play.
Established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his pursuit of truth in the theater, this year’s Relentless Award winner is Is God Is, a revenge tale of twin sisters that takes its cues from the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the spaghetti Western, hip-hop and Afropunk. The play explores deviant morality, patricide, familial dysfunction and the perilous landscape of orphaned black girl/womanhood. The playwright, Aleshea Harris, will be awarded $45,000, and the play will receive the most extensive national roll-out in American theater, with staged readings at some of the most esteemed theaters in the country.
The Play Selection Committee was comprised of some of America’s top playwrights, including Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, David Bar Katz, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and Lucy Thurber, who received and considered more than 2,000 submissions. They sought out plays that were challenging, and plays that were, as the name would have it, relentlessly truthful.
The Ed Vassallo Relentless Reading Series will be kicked off in New York City at The New Group, and other participating companies include The American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco (ACT), Asolo Repertory Theater (Sarasota), The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Goodman (Chicago), The Huntington (Boston), The Wilma (Philiadelphia), Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and The Williamstown Theater Festival. Along with the cash earnings, the authors of The Relentless Award-winning plays will have the option to have their work published by the Dramatists Play Service.
The winning playwright will also have a week-long residency with a cast and director at SPACE on Ryder Farm, an artist residency program housed on a working organic farm in Brewster, New York.