Photo Flash: The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation Presents 2019 IDEA AWARDS

By: Sep. 24, 2019
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Last night, Monday, September 23, The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation presented the 2019 Idea Awards for Theatre; three grants awarded to adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theatre, as well the visionary playwrights who have inspired and blazed trails before them, in a private reception at New Dramatists, The two inaugural 2019 Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Awards were presented to playwrights Tina Howe (Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances) and Adrienne Kennedy (Funnyhouse of a Negro, A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White). Honoring accomplished playwrights who have created significant, idea-driven works throughout their career, the Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Award included a $20,000 prize for each recipient.
Playwright Dave Harris received this year's Ollie New Play Award. The 2019 Vivace Musical Theatre Award was presented to the composer/lyricist team, Kit Yan and Melissa Li. Recognizing emerging talent and original work with ambitious theatrical ideas, both awards were bestowed with a $30,000 prize.
Among those in attendance at the 2019 Idea Awards for Theatre presentation were actress and singer-songwriter Eisa Davis; playwright Kirsten Childs; playwright Sarah Ruhl; Andre Bishop, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater; playwright, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Margo Jefferson; playwright Naomi Iizuka; actress and transgender activist Shakina Nayfack; and director Mei Ann Teo.

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 playwrights 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 including science, history, philosophy, gender, race, politics, sexual orientation, technology, religion, money, global warming, and medicine, among others. Nominations for all three awards are accepted exclusively from The Foundation's Board of Artistic Advisors. For more information, visit

"The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation has created the 'Idea Awards for Theatre' to encourage expansive, idea-driven artworks with inherently theatrical ways of illuminating big ideas and concepts," says Bruce Ostler, 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. To that end, we have created three Idea Awards for Theatre, to celebrate pioneering theatrical artists of all stripes: the Ollie Award for the most ambitious big idea play, the Vivace Award for a big-idea 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."

Photo credit: Valerie Caviness Photography