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American Playwriting Foundation Selects Gracie Gardner as Winner of 2017 Relentless Award

American Playwriting Foundation Selects Gracie Gardner as Winner of 2017 Relentless Award

The American Playwriting Foundation (David Bar Katz, Executive Director), established to make annual grants to new American plays, has selected Gracie Gardner for The 2017 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 Pussy Sludge is about a young woman who is also an oil well. The play is a tender exploration of questioning authority, suspending shame through intimacy, and very bad advice. The playwright, Gracie Gardner, 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 eight women named as winner, finalists, and semifinalists were selected through a blind judging process from 1,000 submissions by a committee comprised of some of America's top playwrights. The 2017 Play Selection Committee including Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, David Bar Katz, Dominique Morriseau, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and Lucy Thurber. They sought out plays that were challenging, and plays that were, as the name would have it, relentlessly truthful.

The 2017 finalists include One More Less by Kate Cortesi; Hamlet by Mia Fefferman by Mara Nelson-Greenberg; and There's Always the Hudson by Paola Lázaro. This year's semifinalists were The Mermaids' Parade by Gina Femia; Sanctuary City by Martyna Majok; Wink by Jen Silverman; and Before Evening Comes by Philana Omorotionmwan.

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 (Philadelphia), 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 American Playwriting Foundation is partnering with two of the most vibrant theaters in London to give eight American Playwrights per year an opportunity to create artistic relationships with the British theater community. The Old Vic will annually present a staged reading of the Relentless Award-winning play in London, featuring a British cast and director. The Relentless writer will see their work read on one of the most storied stages in the English-speaking world and have the opportunity to work with the artists and staff of one of the most exciting producing venues in the UK.

Additionally, the eight Relentless Award finalists and semi-finalists will be part of a week-long Reading Series at Theatre503, a 60-seat new writing powerhouse situated in Battersea, South London that launches the work of more new writers than any other theatre in the UK. Our eight playwrights will be teamed with eight British directors and casts for a London presentation of the eight best unproduced American plays of the year.

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.


The American Playwriting Foundation administers The Relentless Award, established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his pursuit of truth in the theater. The award is the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play and is accompanied by an extensive reading series at many of the top theaters across the United States.

Previous Relentless Award winners include The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe (2015), Dance Nation by Clare Barron (2015), and Is God Is by Aleshea Harris (2016). A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The Wolves has returned to the American stage this past fall at Lincoln Center, a remount following a sold out Off-Broadway run last year at Playwrights Realm, as well as a run at New York Stage and Film. Dance Nation will receive its World Premiere in the spring of 2018 at Playwrights Horizons. Is God Is will receive its World Premiere at Soho Rep in February of 2018.


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