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Williamstown Theatre Festival Has Announced Sanaz Toossi as the 2020 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award Recipient


Williamstown Theatre Festival Has Announced Sanaz Toossi as the 2020 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award Recipient

Williamstown Theatre Festival (Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director) has announced that Sanaz Toossi is the 2020 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award recipient for her play English. Sanaz receives the $10,000 award as well as the $10,000 Jay Harris Commission to write a new play.

Williamstown Theatre Festival administers the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award on behalf of the Anna L. Weissberger Foundation. Championed for the Festival in 1998 by late Trustee, Jay Harris, the award honors noted theatrical attorney and avid theatre supporter, L. Arnold Weissberger, and it is designed to recognize excellence in playwriting. The recipient of the award receives $10,000 for the winning play, a reading at Williamstown Theatre Festival, optional publication by Samuel French, a Concord Theatricals Company, and the $10,000 Jay Harris commission.

The 2020 finalist judges were Adam Bock, Donja R. Love, Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Marjan Neshat, and Robert O'Hara. The finalists for the award were Cullud Wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Don't Eat The Mangoes by Ricardo Peréz González, White History by Dave Harris, The Feast by Deborah Stein, and The Great Moment by Anna Ziegler.

Williamstown Theatre Festival will soon be accepting submissions for the 2021 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award. Nominations are solicited by invitation only.

The world premiere of Sanaz Toossi's Wish You Were Here will kick off the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival summer season on the Nikos Stage on July 1. The production will be directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, and features Nikki Massoud and Marjan Neshat.

As previously announced, the 2020 summer season, running from June 30 - August 23, begins on the Main Stage with A Streetcar Named Desire (June 30 - July 19) by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tennessee Williams, directed by Obie and NAACP Award winner Robert O'Hara and featuring Emmy®, Grammy®, and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Screen Actors Guild® nominee Carla Gugino, and Emmy, Drama Desk, and Obie Award winner and Tony Award nominee Bobby Cannavale.

The Main Stage season continues with the world premiere of Cult of Love ( July 22 - August 2) by Emmy Award nominee Leslye Headland, directed by Obie Award winner and Drama Desk Award nominee Trip Cullman, and featuring Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Kate Burton, Michael Esper, Drama Desk Award winner Paige Gilbert, Drama Desk Award winner Rebecca Henderson, Screen Actors Guild Award winner Chris Lowell, Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Golden Globe® and Emmy Award nominee Taylor Schilling, and Miriam Silverman

The final play of the Main Stage season will be Photograph 51 (August 6 - August 23) by Anna Ziegler, with direction by five-time Tony, Olivier, and Drama Desk Award winner Susan Stroman.

The Nikos Stage season kicks off July 1 with the world premiere of Wish You Were Here (July 1 - July 12) by Sanaz Toossi, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, and featuring Nikki Massoud and Marjan Neshat. It will be followed by the world premiere of Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club (July 15 - July 25) by Shakina Nayfack, directed by WTF Associate Artistic Director Laura Savia, and featuring Kate Bornstein, Annie Golden, and Shakina Nayfack. Next is the world premiere of Row (July 30 - August 9), a new musical with book by Daniel Goldstein and music and lyrics by Dawn Landes. Row, inspired by A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure, is directed by Tyne Rafaeli. The Nikos Stage season closes with the world premiere of Animals (August 12 - August 23) by Emmy Award nominee Stacy Osei-Kuffour, and directed by Whitney White.


Sanaz Toossi is an Iranian-American playwright from Orange County, California. Her plays include Wish You Were Here (2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival Season) and English (Kilroys' List 2019; Roundabout Underground production Fall 2020). She is currently under commission at the Atlantic Theater (Launch commission; Toulmin grant), South Coast Repertory, IAMA Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (American Revolutions Cycle). She is a member of Youngblood and the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at the Lark, and an alum of Clubbed Thumb's Early Career Writers' Group. She was the 2019 P73 Playwriting Fellow. MFA: NYU

Tisch. Sanaz is a proud child of immigrants.


Main Stage

A Streetcar Named Desire | June 30 - July 19

By Tennessee Williams

Directed by Robert O'Hara

With Bobby Cannavale, Carla Gugino, Audra McDonald

Following his 2019 production of A Raisin in the Sun, celebrated as "an absorbing, watershed revival," by The New York Times, Robert O'Hara returns to Williamstown Theatre Festival to direct this Tennessee Williams masterpiece. With Emmy, Grammy, and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Blanche DuBois alongside Carla Gugino as Stella and Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Bobby Cannavale as Stanley, O'Hara takes a fresh and visceral look at the emotionally charged relationship between these two iconic sisters. Haunted by her past, Blanche seeks refuge with Stella and Stanley in New Orleans, where she wrestles with the nature of her sister's husband, her sister's denial, and her own unraveling mind.


Cult of Love | July 22 - August 2

By Leslye Headland

Directed by Trip Cullman

With Kate Burton, Michael Esper, Paige Gilbert, Rebecca Henderson, Chris Lowell, Taylor Schilling, Miriam Silverman

Ginny (Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Kate Burton) and Bill Dahl raised their family with love, music, and Jesus. Every Christmas they welcome home their adult children with carols, Figgy Pudding, and a vat of Manhattans. But the holiday sours when their devout daughter Diana (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Taylor Schilling) unsettles her secular siblings (Michael Esper and Rebecca Henderson) with her evangelicalism. Trip Cullman directs this dark comedy by Leslye Headland about a family whose fierce determination to love each other may not be enough to keep them together.

Cult of Love is a co-world premiere with IAMA.

Photograph 51 | August 6 - August 23

By Anna Ziegler

Directed by Susan Stroman

In 1951, chemist Rosalind Franklin works relentlessly in her King's College London lab, closing in on a major discovery that could unlock the mysteries of the DNA molecule. Undermined by her colleague Maurice Wilkins, she struggles to compete with rival team Watson and Crick as pressure intensifies to produce results. Following a critically acclaimed run in London, Anna Ziegler's play is brought to life in a new production directed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman, honoring the monumental contribution of one scientist with two X chromosomes whom history nearly left behind.

Nikos Stage


Wish You Were Here | July 1 - July 12

By Sanaz Toossi

Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

With Nikki Massoud, Marjan Neshat

Nazanin (Marjan Neshat) and her friends are on the brink of adulthood. As they prepare for a wedding, outside their living room the Iranian Revolution simmers and threatens to alter the course of their lives. Set over the course of 14 years, Sanaz Toossi's timely world premiere play, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, shines a light on the daring potential of friendship amid the relentless aftershocks of political upheaval.


Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club | July 15 - July 25

By Shakina Nayfack

Directed by Laura Savia

With Kate Bornstein, Annie Golden, Shakina Nayfack

In Shakina Nayfack's world premiere play, a vibrant, international group of transgender women band together at a hotel in Thailand to confront the challenges and joys of gender confirmation surgery. Despite the group's warm welcome, Kina (Nayfack) prepares for her life-altering operation all alone. But a caring nurse, a wise couple (Kate Bornstein and Annie Golden), and a karaoke-loving bellhop may be exactly who she needs to ignite her truest sense of self. WTF Associate Artistic Director Laura Savia directs this spirited comedy about one woman who tests the bonds of an unlikely sisterhood.


Row | July 30 - August 9

Book by Daniel Goldstein

Music & Lyrics by Dawn Landes

Directed by Tyne Rafaeli

Inspired by A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure

Tori aims to be the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic. As a child, she raised her younger brother Lamar, defending him against discrimination and neighborhood bullies. Now, with nothing but her body and a hand-built boat, she squares off with her own tormentor: the ocean. Inspired by A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure, this uplifting world premiere musical, directed by Tyne Rafaeli with a book by Daniel Goldstein and music and lyrics by Dawn Landes, interrogates and reveals the resilience, fear, and ambition inside one individual undeterred by the odds.


Animals | August 12 - August 23

By Stacy Osei-Kuffour

Directed by Whitney White

Lydia and Henry's dinner guests are about to arrive when Henry's spontaneous marriage proposal threatens to burn the evening to a crisp. Wine bottles and years of unspoken tensions are uncorked, and, before the evening is through, Lydia must confront her long-held fears and feelings if she's going to commit to a future with Henry. Directed by Whitney White, Stacy Osei-Kuffour's world premiere comedy marches into the muddy intersection of romantic entanglement, identity, pride, and survival.


Season Ticket Bundles are available now at Advance Single Ticket Reservations for the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival season will be available in early April through the WTF website. The WTF season brochure will be mailed at the end of April (call 413-458-3253 to join the mailing list). The WTF Box Office will open on June 3 at which point tickets may be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at 1000 Main St (Route 2), Williamstown, MA 01267.

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