OPC Announces Julia Izumi For First Kerry English Artist Award

The recipient receives $7,500, and an additional $7,500 goes toward supporting the chosen play in development at OPC.

By: Feb. 16, 2021

OPC Announces Julia Izumi For First Kerry English Artist Award

The Ojai Playwrights Conference has announced that the first recipient of the annual Dr. Kerry English Artist Award will be Julia Izumi, whose play "Regretfully, So the Birds Are" has been selected for development during the 2021 OPC New Works Festival slated for August.

The Dr. Kerry English Artist Award was established in 2020 in honor of the OPC board member, who passed away that year. The recipient receives $7,500, and an additional $7,500 goes toward supporting the chosen play in development at OPC.

"Our beloved board member Kerry English was passionately committed to visionary theatre and the artists who imagine and bring that world to life. We're thrilled that Julia Izumi, an exciting young playwright who allows us to see the unseen and hear the unheard in our culture, will be the first artist to be supported by the Dr. Kerry English Artist Award," said OPC Artistic Director/Producer Robert Egan.

Olga Garay-English, English's widow, is sponsoring the award, which will be given annually for 10 years. "As I read Julia's poignant and lyrical play, 'Regretfully, So the Birds Are,' I knew she was the ideal person to receive the inaugural Dr. Kerry English Artist Award. Kerry dedicated his professional life to working with foster youth and other at-risk children. His sensitivity to children who are often without an emotional anchor, and the complexity of this loss, is beautifully captured in Julia's play."

Izumi, in commenting on writing during the pandemic said, "The fact that I continue to write plays in a time of no gathering is either proof that I am a little crazy or a testament to my deep commitment to the art form (or both!). Theatre, or rather live storytelling, or rather a collective sustained exploration of the imagination, is essential to how we grow and understand each other, how we train our muscles for empathy, and how we heal. I am patiently waiting for the day that I can heal with everyone once it is safe to gather again. I am so grateful to receive an award created in honor of a man who seemed to find a similar passion for the thing I love so much."

Izumi's plays include, most recently, "miku, and the gods," "Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes, the Sea," "(An Audio Guide for) Unsung Snails and Heroes," "Regretfully, So the Birds Are" and "Akira Kurosawa Explains His Movies and Yogurt (with Live & Active Cultures)." A writer and performer, Izumi has developed and presented work at Manhattan Theatre Club, Clubbed Thumb, the Bushwick Starr, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Oregon Shakespeare Festival's BLACK SWAN Lab and Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is a 2020/2021 New Georges Audrey Resident, an upcoming New Dramatists member, and a part of the COOP's Clusterf**k. She has an MFA from Brown University.

The goal of the Dr. Kerry English Artist Award is to encourage playwrights who have demonstrated a commitment to giving voice to diverse and underserved communities in America, to bring awareness and activism to the burning social, cultural and political issues of the day, and to promote humanitarian values.

Since 1998, theatre professionals and enthusiastic audiences have converged in Ojai to participate in the development of new plays for the American theatre. Plays developed at OPC have gone on to have numerous productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and at regional theatres across the country. Some have been nominated for and won prestigious awards. Both "Fun Home" by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, and Jon Robin Baitz's "Other Desert Cities" were Pulitzer Finalists; "Fun Home" won the Tony Award for Best Musical; and Danai Gurira's "Eclipsed" and Stephen Adly Guirgis' "The Motherf**ker with the Hat" were each nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

For more information about Ojai Playwrights Conference visit www.ojaiplays.org.