Primary Stages' First-Ever Jeffry Melnick New Playwright Award Goes to PARADING THE NOOSE

By: Sep. 16, 2016

Primary Stages has announced the recipient of the inaugural Jeffry Melnick New Playwright Award, established by Jeffry Melnick and administrated by Primary Stages.

The award, which will be given to worthy playwrights who have yet to receive a major production of their work, will be awarded this year to Connor Sampson for his play PARADING THE NOOSE. The other finalists for this award include S.P. Monahan and Fielding Edlow.

Those involved in the selection process included Lee Blessing, Charles Busch, Katrin Hilbe, Daryl Roth, and Janet Reed.

Jeffry Melnick began his career touring with Ethel Merman in Call Me, Madam. His career highlights since then have included packaging the last network television film to win an Emmy, David's Mother, for CBS; representing the Academy Award-winning films Moonstruck and Stories from the Quilt; and representing two of the longest running plays in Off-Broadway history, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Vanities.

"The reason I created this award was that I made a wonderful business working with new and unknown writers who I found interesting and exciting," says Melnick. "It's now time to give something back."

"It's rare to find a theatre company so committed to developing and supporting, not only new work, but new voices and I can't thank Primary Stages or Jeffry Melnick enough for the support they've given me," says recipient Connor Sampson. "Because of it, I've been able to explore exciting new avenues with my writing that wouldn't have otherwise been possible - and what a gift it is to be able to shed restraint as a writer."

"We are thrilled that Jeffry Melnick has identified this need to recognize worthy writers and that he has chosen Primary Stages to partner with us in this annual award," stated Primary Stages Founder and Executive Producer, Casey Childs.

Primary Stages' 2016/17 season opens with THE ROADS TO HOME, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote and directed by Michael Wilson, which began performances on September 14. The season will continue with the New York premiere of FADE, written by Tanya Saracho (Mala Hierba) and directed by Jerry Ruiz (Basilica). FADE begins performances in January 2017 and will run through March 2017. The season will conclude with the New York Premiere of DANIEL'S HUSBAND, presented by Primary Stages & Ted Snowdon. Written by Michael McKeever (Moscow) and directed by Joe Brancato (Miracle on South Division Street), DANIEL'S HUSBAND will run from March-April 2017. Additional casting & creative team for both productions will be announced at a later date.

Primary Stages is an Off-Broadway not-for-profit theater company dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and sharing the art of playwriting. We operate on the strongly held belief that the future of American theater relies on nurturing playwrights and giving them the artistic support needed to create new work. Since our founding in 1984, we have produced more than 125 new plays, including Donald Margulies' The Model Apartment (1995 premiere and 2013 revival); David Ives' Lives of the Saints and All in the Timing (original 1993 production and 2013 revival); Billy Porter's While I Yet Live; Kate Fodor's Rx; Charles Busch's The Tribute Artist and Olive and the Bitter Herbs; A.R. Gurney's Black Tie; Horton Foote's Harrison, TX and Dividing the Estate (Two 2009 Tony Award nominations); Theresa Rebeck's Poor Behavior; Deborah Zoe Laufer's Informed Consent; Terrence McNally's Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams and The Stendhal Syndrome; Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter's In the Continuum (which went on to tour the U.S., Africa, and Scotland); and Conor McPherson's St. Nicholas (which marked the playwright's U.S. debut). Our productions and artists have received critical acclaim, including Tony, Obie, Lortel, AUDELCO, Outer Critics' Circle, Drama League, and Drama Desk awards and nominations. Primary Stages supports playwrights and develops new works through commissions, workshops, readings, and our education and training programs: The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, the Marvin and Anne Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA), the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA in Playwriting, and the newly launched Primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral History Project. Through these programs, Primary Stages advocates for our artists, helping them make important-and often transformative- connections within the theater community. For more information, visit

Connor Sampson (Playwright) is a twenty-five-year-old writer-performer living in Brooklyn and hailing from Worcester, MA. An ensemble member with the NY Neo-Futurists, he can be seen regularly performing in their hit show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 plays in 60 minutes) and, less-regularly, in international tours of their Drama Desk-nominated The Complete and Condensed Stage Direction of Eugene O'Neill Vol. 1&2. Connor is currently writing and creating the NY Neo?Futurists' MainStage production, The Great American Drama, premiering at A.R.T./NY in January of 2017. He is a two-time national champion of performance poetry with Slam! @ NYU and has headlined shows at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Bowery Poetry Club, Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and more. As a playwright, his work has been featured in many cities including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Worcester, MA. Connor is currently writing and creating a show, The Great American Drama, for the NY Neo-Futurists MainStage production for the fall of 2016. His most recent play Parading the Noose (an almost summer's beginning brings a party) was selected as a Goldberg Play Prize Finalist. Other plays include: Capture My Heart (Cherry Lane Theatre), Boy Meets Girl (Suffolk University), and The Art of Cannibalism (NYU), among others. Connor holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing with Honors from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.


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