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Philadelphia Theatre Company's Terrence McNally Award Accepting Applications

Philadelphia Theatre Company reinstates award with new Philadelphia focus.

Philadelphia Theatre Company is now seeking submissions from playwrights for the newly reinstated Terrence McNally Award. The submission deadline is February 1, 2021. One selected playwright will receive a cash award of $5,000 and early development guidance, including administrative and dramaturgical support. Submissions will be assessed by Resident Artist Jeffrey Page, who is overseeing the award process, and a panel of theatre industry professionals.

The Terrence McNally Award was first established in 2012, recognizing new plays that celebrated themes contained in McNally's work: the transformative power of art, queer rights, and social justice. Previous winners include James Ijames (White), Bill Cain, (Unvarnished, now called American Canvas), A. Zell Williams (The Urban Retreat), and Martín Zimmerman (Let Me Count the Ways). Last given in 2015, the newly reimagined award includes one major change to the submission guidelines: only playwrights born, bred, or currently residing in the Philadelphia area will be considered.

Complete submission guidelines, the application link and FAQ's can be found online at https://philadelphiatheatrecompany.org/terrence-mcnally-award/.

Philadelphia Theatre Company resurrected the Terrence McNally Award to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Terrence McNally, who passed away in March of 2020, due to complications from the coronavirus. With the blessing of McNally's husband, producer Tom Kirdahy, PTC hopes to shine a light on the next generation of transformative writers in theatre and help them leave a mark on the playwriting world just as McNally did.

Prior to McNally's passing, the theatre was in discussions with the late playwright and his husband, producer Tom Kirdahy, to revive the award. Philadelphia Theatre Company wishes to both honor McNally, who had a long standing relationship with PTC, and also to put a stake in the ground, committing to the creation of more opportunities and support for artists.

"We always hoped that after this season at Philadelphia Theatre Company, we'd refocus on new play development," said PTC Producing Artistic Director Paige Price. "In light of the pandemic, we feel that we should 'seed the ground' now by developing new work, and also find ways to directly support artists with commissions, online gigs, and this award. We also know that our audiences love thought-provoking plays. By bringing them along on the winning writer's journey, they can learn more about the work and the process than they ever have before, to tide them over until they are able to come see a live production again."

Many McNally plays have grappled with queer identity, social justice, and the transformative power of art. These themes will be in the foreground and will be included in how the plays will be evaluated. The play selection procedure will be developed by Price and incoming Resident Artist Jeffrey Page, and will be announced before the application opens up in the fall of 2020. This year, the award is solely open to writers born, raised, or currently residing in Philadelphia.

Page said of the award, "The Terrence McNally Award honors the magic and transformative power of theater as a way to reach into the hearts and minds of audiences. This award will celebrate socially responsible art and civically engaged playwrights who aim to dismantle systems of racism and oppression through fearless and audacious art."

The Terrence McNally New Play Award was first conceived to annually recognize a new play that celebrates themes in McNally's work. McNally and his husband Kirdahy had approval of the selected recipient (from PTC's short list). Kirdahy has expressed his desire to participate in the selection process moving forward, as well. Previously, PTC held the world-premiere rights to the winning plays for up to three years following the presentation of the award. The award included a $5,000 cash prize and a year of development at PTC (including readings as well as administrative support (dramaturgical) and access to professional connections to help manage the future of the play beyond its time at PTC).

"I am confident this award will help identify the next generation of American Playwrights who understand the special power of theatre to transform hearts and minds and that Philadelphia Theatre Company will continue to be a welcoming venue for them," McNally said in a statement when the award was originally announced.

PTC's relationship with Terrence McNally includes the World Premieres of Master Class, Golden Age, Some Men and Unusual Acts of Devotion, and the Philadelphia regional premieres of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Love!Valour!Compassion!, and Mothers and Sons.

"We have to be more aggressive in creating opportunities for Philadelphia artists and for artists and workers of color," said Price. "This is a step in the right direction."


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