Two Playwrights Earn New Award in Remembrance of Philip Seymour Hoffman

By: Nov. 08, 2015
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The inaugural recipients of the "Relentless Award" have been announced.

In honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the new prize rewards exceptional playwriting. The judges paired down the winners from 2,000 submissions, and unable to choose between Clare Barron's DANCE NATION and Sarah DeLappe's THE WOLVES, they elected to divide the award.

"Each one of these plays does something that I haven't seen before," says writer and friend of Hoffman's, David Bar Katz. "Tere's some technique used, some use of time, character, that is unusual." Katz is directly connected to the founding of the American Playwriting Foundation as well as the new Relentless Award, because funded both through money obtained from a court settlement in which the National Enquirer printed a false story regarding Katz and Hoffman.

"The Relentless Award, established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his pursuit of truth in the theater, is the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play," writes the AMF. In order to be eligible for the award, plays had to be unproduced and unattached to a producer or theatre company. Hoping to shed light on as of yet undiscovered playwrights, the winners will get to attend a week-long retreat, accompanied by a director, dramaturg, and actors. The culmination of which will be a staged reading of the work, aiming towards full regional productions. The cash reward is $45,000,

"We had so many discussions over the years of how tough it is on playwrights, and how difficult to survive," recalls Katz. "We'd sit and talk about it in Keens chophouse, and on the walls they have all those fliers from theaters in the 1800s, but playwrights couldn't afford to come here now, and Phil said it would be nice if a playwright could afford a steak, and make a living."

Other judges for the competition, besides Katz, includedEric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman and Lucy Thurber - also named two finalists: Jake Jeppson, for #BROS and Liza Birkenmeier, for RADIO ISLAND.

Katz says having the award in Hoffman's honor is fitting. "Phil loved playwrights and spent so much of his life dedicated to that."

Source: NY Times