Dramatists Guild Foundation Announces 2021 Recipients Including Brittany K. Allen, Avi Amon, and More

The awards honor playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists.

By: Sep. 09, 2021
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Dramatists Guild Foundation (DGF) has announced this year's recipients of their annual Awards, honoring playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists who show promise in their writing to invest in the future of theater through their stories.

Brittany K. Allen is the winner of the Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Prize. The $10,000 Award is given annually to a female-identifying playwright in honor of their work in comedy. The Award was spearheaded in 2020 by Georgia's close friends, writer/producer Phil Rosenthal and actress Monica Horan Rosenthal (Rosenthal Family Foundation), producer Dori Berinstein, and actor John Quilty (the Founding Committee). The inaugural winner was Bess Wohl.

"I think particularly in this moment of ongoing world catastrophe, I've personally felt the most human, the most connected, and, in a curious way, the most politically galvanized when I'm able to laugh through, or at, the painful stuff so it feels particularly special to be recognized in this tradition of comedic playwriting," Allen said in response to winning the Award.

Allen is a Brooklyn-based writer and actor. She's a proud member of Ensemble Studio's Theatre's Obie-winning Youngblood collective, an alumna of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, and was a 2017 Van Lier New Voices fellow at the Lark. Her play REDWOOD (2017 & 2020 Kilroys List) received its world premiere at Portland Center Stage in 2019, and will appear in upcoming seasons at the Jungle Theater and Ensemble Studio Theatre. She's developed work for/with Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, Woolly Mammoth, and Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and currently holds commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Studio Theatre, and Portland Center Stage. She was the recipient of the 2021 Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, and her writing has been/will be supported by residencies and workshops at MacDowell, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her prose appears or is forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Catapult, Kenyon Review Online, and Longreads, among other places.

The 2021 Thom Thomas Award winner is Avi Amon. This $10,000 award is given to a former DGF Fellow and commemorates playwright Thom Thomas's endless passion for nurturing the next generation of dramatists and his appreciation of DGF's support of writers. The Award is made possible through the generous support of his longtime friends and colleagues, Iris Rainer Dart and Helen Lee Henderson. The selected awardee demonstrates great artistic skill and articulates how they would put the money to use. This can include livelihood expenses, project expenses, travel expenses - anything that will support their ability to create their best work. Past recipients are Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Chisa Hutchinson, Julia Meinwald, Sylvan Oswald, Riti Sachdeva, Benjamin Velez, and Stefanie Zadravec.

"It's going to be a game-changer for me as an artist, but also for us as a family," Amon said.

Amon is a Turkish-American composer, sound artist and educator. Recent credits include: CUPIDS with Zoey Martinson (Tribeca Film Festival); MLIMA'S TALE (St. Louis REP); THE COPPER CHILDREN (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); STEW (Soho Rep); THE FISHERMAN (HBO Films); THE BLACK HISTORY MUSEUM (HERE Arts); SALONIKA with Julia Gytri (Berkeley Rep); and several sound installations in a 100-year-old grain silo in Buffalo, New York (Torn Space Theater and The Prague Quadrennial). Upcoming: HEROINE'S GUIDE with Claire Kiechel (Spotify/Gimlet); RATED BLACK with Kareem Lucas (Woolly Mammoth); and INSHALLAH/MASHALLAH: a 3-D-audio opera re-imagining of the 1,001 Nights (Target Margin Theater). He is a Jonathan Larson Grant and New Music USA Grant winner, a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a commissioned member of the NNPN Bridge Program, and has been an Artist in-residence with: Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, The O'Neill, THEatre ACCELERATOR, Goodspeed, Yale, New Dramatists, and Weston Playhouse, among others. Avi is the resident composer at the 52nd Street Project and teaches at NYU Tisch.

Emily Gardner Xu Hall is honored with the Stephen Schwartz Award. The Award is a $10,000 Award given annually to a musical theatre writer whose voice is seen as critical to the continued success of the craft, in unconditional support of their work. The Stephen Schwartz Award debuted in 2019 with past recipients Khiyon Hursey (2020) and Oliver Houser (2019).

"I'm crying because I've been thinking about how hard it has been, in the pandemic, to keep writing and how hard it's been for everyone dealing with every circumstance," Gardner Xu Hall said in an emotional response to the news of the honor. "I am so, so grateful, and I feel so, so lucky."

Gardner Xu Hall is an award-winning composer, lyricist, playwright and actor. She was born in Tokyo and grew up in London, but is now based in New York City.She writes feminist musicals and plays with music, often based around questions of race and gender. For her music, book and lyrics, she won the 2019 American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Award, and was the inaugural winner of the 2018 "Go Write a Musical" Lilly Award for Women in Theatre. Theatre (music/lyrics/book): UNTITLED CHERRY ORCHARD MUSICAL (American Music Theater Project), CYMBELINE, MEI-DO (Ars Nova ANT Fest), NASCENT PHASE (reading, Bushwick Starr). Composer/lyricist: NOMAD MOTEL with Carla Ching (Off-Broadway premiere, Atlantic Theater Company), RUTH with Dianne Nora (reading, Goodman Theatre Chicago), THE CARDINAL with Cusi Cram (commission, Cornerstone), NOT WORKING (commission, NYFA), LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT (premiere at Berkshire Theatre Festival delayed due to pandemic). Composer/performer: BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL... with Kareem M. Lucas (Public Theater Under the Radar Festival). Her writing has also been performed at: Joe's Pub, Ars Nova, 54 Below, Musical Theatre Factory, Prospect Theatre Company, 24 Hr Plays, IRT/New Ohio, NYMF and others. She is currently developing UNTITLED CHONGQING MUSICAL with Tom Donaghy (Fox's STAR) for Atlantic Theatre Company (NAMT Frank Young Grant), and working on a confidential film project with Tony and Oscar Award-winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, LA LA LAND, DEAR EVAN HANSEN).

Paulo K Tiról is the recipient of the first-ever Benjamin Indick Award. This award honors a mid-career lyricist, librettist or book writer for musical theater with $1,000, in honor of the late science fiction writer.

"Thank you for seeing the value in the stories that I tell about my community -- the Filipino immigrant community -- which I am so proud to be a part of and and which I hope to continue doing proud," Tiról said.

Tiról is a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter from Manila, Philippines. He has been a Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellow and an artist-in-residence at Access Theater. Projects include music and lyrics for ON THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD (NAMT Festival 2020, Prospect Theater Company's IGNITE concert series, coming March '22 to Musical Theatre West in Long Beach CA, all dir. Noam Shapiro); book, music and lyrics for CALLED (DGF Fellows showcase, dir. May Adrales); book, music and lyrics for LOVE SONGS (developed for Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, dir. Marella Martin Koch); and orchestrations for Ma-Yi Theater Co.'s FELIX STARRO. His work has been presented at Joe's Pub, Barrington Stage, and more, and he is also an award-winning composer of liturgical music. Training: Ateneo de Manila University, Berklee College of Music, NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (full tuition scholarship), BMI.

To watch the recipients' acceptance speeches, visit DGF's YouTube Channel. For more information on the DGF Awards, visit https://dgf.org/grants/awards/.