2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

Three categories of grants will be awarded to adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theatre.

By: Nov. 30, 2023
2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation has announced the recipients of their 2023 Idea Awards for Theatre; three categories of grants awarded to adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theatre, as well the visionary playwrights who have inspired and blazed trails before them.

The 2023 Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Award will be presented to Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart, The Miss Firecracker Contest). Honoring accomplished playwrights who have created significant, idea-driven works throughout their career, the Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Award is given with a $25,000 prize for the recipient.

Jesse Jae Hoon is the recipient of this year's Ollie New Play Award. Two Vivace Musical Theatre Awards will be presented; one to Brandy Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman and Erika Ji; and another to Grace McLean. Recognizing emerging talent and original work with ambitious theatrical ideas, both awards are bestowed to each recipient with a $25,000 prize. 

Each of the six artists will also receive a unique stone statuette hand carved by Bruce Ostler.

The 2023 Idea Awards for Theatre will be presented on Monday, December 4, 2023, in a private ceremony (by invitation only) at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South, NYC). Entertainment will feature live performances by this year's Vivace Musical Theatre Award winners. 

Theatrical Agent Bret Adams and his partner Dr. Paul Reisch loved the theatre with great passion. As a theatrical agent, Bret shepherded the careers of many actors, writers and directors and designers, including Phylicia Rashad, Judy Kaye, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sherman Helmsley, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Eve Arden, Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Marshall, Jayne Wyman, Andre DeShields, Kathy Bates, Susan H. Schulman, Jack Heifner, Philip McKinley and Robert Harling, among many others. After Bret and Paul's passing, in 2006 and 2015 respectively, their eponymous foundation was created at their bequest. The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation champions visionary theatre writers in their creation of expansive, illuminating, and idea-driven theatre. Embracing diversity in all its forms, The Foundation encourages artists with fresh perspectives - particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds - to create idea-driven new plays and musicals reflecting on multivalent themes. Nominations for all three awards are accepted exclusively from The Foundation's Board of Artistic Advisors. For more information, visit www.BretnPaulFoundation.org.

The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation created the ‘Idea Awards for Theatre' to encourage expansive, idea-driven artworks with inherently theatrical ways of illuminating big ideas and concepts,” says Sheilah Rae, V.P. and Board Member of The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. “With our financial awards, we are encouraging artists to grapple with and dramatize the big ideas that the world is engaged with. This money will give them needed time and space to explore and write. We are proud to award the Ollie Award for the most ambitious big idea new play, the Vivace Award for a big-idea new musical that makes you want to get up and dance, and the Tooth of Time Award to encourage accomplished artists to continue their personal evolution in examining big ideas. We are giving these Awards to dare these writers to theatricalize something wild and brave.”

"Beth Henley is one of our most important living dramatists and a defining voice of the American South," says Kate Bussert, Executive Director of the BAPR Foundation. “Grace McLean is a truly multi-hyphenate, idea-driven artist who uses all of her skills to amplify her artistic vision and creates work unlike any other. And as we look to the new generation of writers in all disciplines, we are thrilled to support rising playwright Jesse Jae Joon, whose work critiques systemic injustice with humor and heart, and the emerging musical theatre writing team of Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Brandy Hoang Collier, and Erika Ji, three incisive and intersectional artists redefining the Asian-American theatre canon. We are honored to support these six artists as they create exciting new work.

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

Beth Henley (2023 Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Award winner) is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and professor. Her plays include Crimes Of The Heart (Pulitzer Prize in Drama, New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play, and Tony Award nominee for best play) The Wake of Jamey Foster, The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Control Freaks, Impossible Marriage, Family Week, Ridiculous Fraud, The Jacksonian, Laugh, and The Unbuttoning. Her plays have been produced on Broadway and across the country as well as internationally and translated into fourteen languages. Ms. Henley screenplays include Crimes Of The Heart (Academy Award nominee for best screenplay) Nobody's Fool, The Miss Firecracker Contest, and David Byrne's True Stories. Ms. Henley is a recipient of The American Theatre Wing 1998 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Playwriting, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist for Crimes Of The Heart and Ridiculous Fraud; Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award 2000; New York Stage and Film Honoree, 2007, ATHE Career Achievement Award, 2010, Mississippi Governor's Arts Awards recipients for 2013, FSW'S Cleanth Brooks Medal, 2013, American Theater Award at the William Inge Festival, 2017, and Tooth of Time Award, 2023.
Originally from Mississippi, Ms. Henley now lives in Los Angeles and serves as the Presidential Professor at LMU/LA.

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

JESSE JAE HOON (2023 Ollie New Play Award winner) is a playwright, organizer, and actor – born in South Korea, raised in Chicago & Berlin, and based in Queens. Jesse is a hopeful cynic whose work combines raucous comedy with a deeply felt sense of urgency to investigate power, class, hope, and our responsibility to the collective good. He's the current CRNY Resident Artist at Ma-Yi Theater Company; a 2023-2025 member of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group; a 2024 MacDowell Fellow; a 2022-2023 Writing Fellow at The Playwrights Realm; under commission from Theater J; the inaugural Radio Roots fellow with The Parsnip Ship; an inaugural member of the Orchard Project Adaptation Lab; a member of The TANK NYC's LIT Council, Page Break, and the COOP's Clusterf**k. MFA in Playwriting from Hunter College, BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch. jessejaehoon.com 

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

BRANDY HOANG COLLIER (2023 Vivace Musical Theatre Award winner) is a poet, playwright, and problem-solver from deep in the heart of Texas. She studied music, rhetoric, and anthropology at Texas A&M and musical theatre writing at NYU. She unravels conventions and incites chaos in the theatre world through her paradigm-shifting storytelling and general vibes. Other than Gloria, selected works include The Blazing World (Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals 2021), and libretto for Red Flag (adapted for The Latest Draft Podcast 2020). In 2020, with business partner Jessie Field, Collier co-founded Root Beer Occasion Theatre Company and orchestrated several online productions, including “The Living Room Stories Play Festival” and “The Garbage Revue Bad Play Contest.” brandyhoangcollier.com 

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

CLARE FUYUKO BIERMAN (2023 Vivace Musical Theatre Award winner) is a playwright and lyricist raised in a Japanese-Jewish home with some rabbits, a snake, and a bunch of finches. Her writing often involves ecological absurdism, politicized food, campfire stories, made-up games, unexpected sea shanties, and proscenium-less playspaces. Recent: Yoko's Husband's Killer's Japanese Wife, Gloria (commissioned by 5th Avenue Theater 2021, Civilians R&D 2022, Orchard Project Performance Lab 2023, O'Neill NMTC 2023, NAMT festival 2023, Vivace Award 2023) and The People vs. American Cheese (American Opera Project 2023). Immersive work: VISARE (New Voices Winner 2020, Vivace Award Nomination 2021) and [untitled hat project] (NYFA grant 2021). She has participated in the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival, and Broadway's Future Songbook Series. clarebierman.com 

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

ERIKA JI (2023 Vivace Musical Theatre Award winner) is a cross-genre composer-storyteller who loves soaring melodies, dream worlds, and stories that challenge our preconceptions about what is true, good, or worth wanting. Her work has premiered at Lincoln Center and The Public. Recently, in addition to Gloria: VISARE (New Voices Winner), Starsong (Rattlestick). Helene Wurlitzer Artist, Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriter, NYU Tisch GMTWP MFA. As a conductor/pianist/vocalist, Erika has performed on Broadway (Kimberly Akimbo) and TV (CBS Sunday Morning). The proud daughter of Chinese immigrants, Erika studied computer science & philosophy at Stanford and built products at Dropbox before deciding to follow the music. erikaji.com

2023 Idea Awards For Theatre To Be Presented To Beth Henley, Jesse Jae Hoon, Brandy, Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, Erika Ji & Grace Mclean

Grace McLean (2023 Vivace Musical Theatre Award winner) is a multi-hyphenate actress-singer-writer-teacher. In addition to performing on Broadway (Bad Cinderella; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812) and Off (New Group, MCC, LCT3, Public, La MaMa, Vineyard, among others), Grace also makes time for her acclaimed original music. As a solo performer, Grace has been seen at Lincoln Center, New York City Center, The McKittrick, BAM, the ACE Hotel (where she collaborates with The Dance Cartel's show OnTheFloor) and numerous other venues both uptown and downtown. Grace received a 2021 Jonathan Larson Grant and is a Broadway Women's Fund 2021 Woman to Watch. She is a Writer In Residence at Lincoln Center Theater where her first original musical In The Green was commissioned and produced, received a 2020 Richard Rodgers Award, and earned her a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical. Grace McLean & Them Apples headlined the Lincoln Center American Songbook in both 2015 and 2016, and Grace is the 2017 recipient of the Hunt Family Emerging Artist Award through Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. www.gracemclean.com



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