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Iyvon Edebiri Named Recipient of The Mark O'Donnell Prize


Iyvon Edebiri Named Recipient of The Mark O'Donnell Prize

The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons announced today that New York City playwright Iyvon Edebiri is the 2019 recipient of "The Mark O'Donnell Prize", an annual prize presented to an emerging theater artist in recognition of her or his talent and promise.

Inspired by the singular mind of Mark O'Donnell, "The Mark O'Donnell Prize" is targeted toward "America's most anomalous, singular and curious emerging writers, composers, directors and designers." The award includes a cash prize of $15,000; use of The Mark O'Donnell Theater at The Actors Fund Arts Center, located at The Schermerhorn in Downtown Brooklyn, for one week to develop a reading of a new work; as well as counseling from The Actors Fund on two of the major challenges faced by emerging artists: how to apply for affordable housing and obtaining health insurance. The Mark O'Donnell Prize is funded by The Actors Fund, a human services organization serving everyone in entertainment and the performing arts, and is made possible by a gift from Stephen O'Donnell in memory of his brother Mark.

The Schermerhorn, an award-winning 216-unit supportive housing development for low-income New Yorkers, continues to serve as home to The Mark O'Donnell Theater. The Theater serves as a resource for Brooklyn-based artists and arts groups to aid in the development and sharing of their work, as well as a venue for integrating the residents of The Schermerhorn with the surrounding community through the arts. The building is operated by The Actors Fund in collaboration with Breaking Ground, a non-profit developer that provides permanent affordable housing for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

After a career of critical acclaim, Mark O'Donnell achieved commercial success when he co-wrote the book of the musical Hairspray, based on the John Waters film, withThomas Meehan. The production earned the pair the 2003 Tony Award® and a celebrated seven-year run on Broadway, followed by the 2007 musical film adaptation. The writers went on to adapt the Tony-nominated musical Cry Baby for Broadway in 2008, based on a Waters film of the same name.

Mark O'Donnell's Playwrights Horizons credits were That's It, Folks!; Fables for Friends; and The Nice and the Nasty. His other plays include Strangers on Earth, Vertigo Park and the musical Tots in Tinseltown. He collaborated with Bill Irwin on an adaptation of Moliere's Scapin and co-authored a translation of Georges Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear. He also adapted Feydeau's Private Fittings for the La Jolla Playhouse and a symphonic version of Pyramus and Thisbe for the Kennedy Center.

Mr. O'Donnell published two collections of comic stories Elementary Education and Vertigo Park and Other TALL Tales as well as two novels, Getting Over Homer and Let Nothing You Dismay. His humor, cartoons and poetry have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic and Esquire. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the George S. Kaufman Award.

The Mark O'Donnell Theater at The Actors Fund Arts Center is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by Council Member Stephen Levin.

Iyvon Edebiri is a Nigerian-American an independent creative producer, company manager and dramaturg hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Iyvon is the Artistic Director and Host of The Parsnip Ship, a monthly series of reimagining the experience of radio plays by curating underproduced playwrights and plays with new music by independent musicians that are recorded live at The Mark O'Donnell Theater and distributed on streaming platforms. Iyvon is a recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship (Italy) and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship (Italy). She was recently an Americans for the Arts DIAL Fellow and a Fellow of The DO School Future of Audio Entertainment program in Berlin. Iyvon has worked at The Public Theater, Joe's Pub, PIER55 and Sundance Institute Theater Program. B.A. Brandeis University. M.A. Baruch College (CUNY) Arts Administration program.

Photo credit: JPK; pictured: Jack Tantleff, Steve O'Donnell, Iyvon Edebiri, Tim Sanford, Joseph Benencasa

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