Ngozi Anyanwu's GOOD GRIEF Wins Inaugural Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize
Center Theatre Group and Humanitas announce that Ngozi Anyanwu has won first place for the inaugural Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize, with Dan O'Brien in second place and Louisa Hill in third place. The prize is awarded annually to the best new unproduced play written by a Southern California-based writer. The winning plays will be developed with CTG's literary staff, led by CTG's Director of New Play Development Pier Carlo Talenti, and will be presented in staged readings at Humanitas Play Fest, Celebrating Southern California Playwrights, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre from February 12-14.
The playwrights and their works were selected from 234 total submissions, which were each read by at least two artists from a pool of 71 Southern California-based directors, dramaturgs, designers, actors and artistic directors who volunteered to serve as judges.
Anyanwu was awarded $5,000 for her play "Good Grief," which follows Nkechi, a first generation Nigerian girl, and her misadventures of love, loss and growing up. If a Southern California theatre premieres the play, the theatre will receive $5,000 towards the production.
Dan O'Brien was awarded $2,000 for "The House in Scarsdale," in which the playwright interviews lost relatives in pursuit of an answer to the mystery of the dissolution of his family.
Louisa Hill was awarded $2,000 for "Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers," a contemporary reimagining of the Demeter and Persephone myth.
Ngozi Anyanwu is an actress, writer and producer with an MFA in acting from the University of California, San Diego. She is the founder of the 1st Generation Nigerian Project, where she served as Artistic Director. Anyanwu is currently the Co-Artistic Director of NOW AFRICA's Playwrights Festival. She is a recipient of the Djerassi Artist Residency.
"Good Grief" is Anyanwu's first play, which she began as a student in UC San Diego's MFA acting program. Apart from feedback from fellow students, she has primarily worked on the play alone.
"I'm excited for the support that an institution can bring, and I'm interested in seeing what that means for the play," said Anyanwu.
Dan O'Brien is a playwright, poet and librettist living in Los Angeles. His play, "The Body of an American," is the winner of the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, the PEN Center USA Award for Drama and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. It will receive an off-Broadway production in 2016. His third poetry collection, "New Life," is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press in Brooklyn. O'Brien is a 2015-2016 Guggenheim Fellow in Drama and Performance Art.
Louisa Hill received her MFA from the University of Iowa's Playwrights Workshop, where she was the Iowa Arts Fellow. In 2012, she received the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
The partnership between Humanitas and Center Theatre Group not only provides support for rising playwrights, but fosters the growth of the Southern California theatre landscape.
"I think it's particularly exciting for audiences to see work created by artists who live in their own communities and who also often write about their own communities," said Talenti. "Theatre suddenly has a particularly special relevance when that happens."
The winner and two runners-up will also be announced at the annual Humanitas Prize ceremony on Thursday, February 11, 2016, at the Directors Guild.