THE WAY WEST and THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER Win Marin Theatre's 2013 New American Play Prizes
Marin Theatre Company artistic director Jasson Minadakis, managing director Michael Barker and director of new play development Margot Melcon announced today the winners of MTC's two national new American play prizes, a program now in its sixth year. The Way West by Mona Mansour won the 2013 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and Eric Dufault won the 2013 David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize for his play The Year of the Rooster. The winners were selected from nearly 700 eligible submissions.
"The Way West resonates on many levels," said Minadakis. "It's about family and finances, love and loyalty, and that American pioneer spirit that can both fuel ambition and lead to downfall. Mona's play speaks directly to the highs and lows we've experienced as a country in the last few years. And it is hard to encompass the collective reaction of the entire artistic staff here at Marin when we read Eric Dufault's The Year of the Rooster, except to say that never had we experienced a play that jumped off the page with action, humor and humanity as what this unique young playwright was able to accomplish in his story of a frenzied, crowing, champion cockfighting rooster."
The Sky Cooper New American Play Prize celebrates the work of the American playwright and encourages the creation of bold, powerful new plays for the American stage. MTC awards the Sky Cooper Prize annually to an outstanding unproduced play written by either an established or emerging American playwright. The winning play receives a developmental workshop and a staged reading as part of MTC's New Works Series and is also considered under option for a full production as part of the theater's annual main stage season. The playwright of the winning play receives a $10,000 award.
This year's Sky Cooper Prize winner, The Way West, is by Mona Mansour. Mansour, a New York-based writer, has had her work performed or developed at The Public Theater, the Humana Festival of New American Plays, the Lark Play Development Center, The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis and the Sundance Theater Institute. Previous Sky Cooper winners include Seven Spots on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman, The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter, 9 Circles by Bill Cain (winner of the 2011 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award), Sunlight by Sharr White and Magic Forest Farm by Zayd Dohrn, the latter three of which received their world premieres at MTC.
The Way West is a wryly funny play with music about the contemporary quirks of our American spirit. Set in a modern-day California town that's seen better days, Mom shares death-defying tales of pioneer crossings with her two squabbling adult daughters as she waits for her bankruptcy to come through. Peppered with original prairie songs, this hilarious and heartbreaking play about today's American family explores the mixed blessing of our great frontier spirit, which has fueled both self-delusion and survival.
The David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize honors David Calicchio's lifelong career as a playwright and supports MTC's commitment to the discovery and development of new and emerging American Playwrights. MTC awards the Calicchio Prize annually to a professionally unproduced playwright for a new work that shows outstanding promise and a distinctive new voice for the American theatre. The winning playwright receives a $2,500 award. Their submitted play receives a developmental workshop and a staged reading as part of MTC's New Works Series.
This year's Calicchio Prize winner, Eric Dufault, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College who has had work produced or developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Flea Theatre, 52nd Street Project, the Magnet Theatre, the Theater for the New City, the Lark Play Development Center and the Great Plains Theatre Conference. Previous Calicchio Prize winners include Light by Meghan Kennedy, That Good Night by Andrew Dolan, Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Carthage by Emily Schwend and Blood / Money by A. Zell Williams, all of which received staged readings through MTC's New Works Series.
In Year of the Rooster, Dufault's astonishingly entertaining play about cockfighting, Gil, a McDonald's-employed schlub who lives with his mother, has happened upon his ticket to fame and fortune in the form of Odysseus Rex, a champion-caliber rooster he is training to fight against a legendary undefeated foe.
"We had an incredible challenge with the 2013 play prizes in that we received more submissions than in any previous year," said director of new play development Margot Melcon. "Since a member of our artistic staff reads every submission, it took longer to arrive at a winner from among so many exceptional entries, but ultimately these two plays really stood out."
When The Way West and Year of the Rooster were submitted for consideration for MTC's new American play prizes, neither play had planned productions (in accordance with the rules of the awards). Since then, both have found theatrical homes for their world premieres. Mansour's The Way West will premiere at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago in the spring of 2014, under the direction of ensemble member Amy Morton. Dufault's The Year of the Rooster premiered at Ensemble Studio Theater in the fall of 2013 and will return for an additional four-week run in January 2014. MTC is honored to share the recognition of both of these writers with theaters of such high caliber.
"The Sky Cooper and David Calicchio prizes given annually by Marin Theatre Company are almost unique in the American theatre," said managing director Michael Barker. "There is certainly no other organization in the United States currently offering two prizes of this kind simultaneously. Besides recognizing the excellence of two playwrights telling relevant contemporary stories, the prizes collectively provide a necessary touch point that allows Marin Theatre Company to remain on the cutting edge of new play development."
The submission window for the upcoming 2014 Sky Cooper and David Calicchio prizes has closed. Playwrights who submitted between July1 - August 31, 2013 are still in consideration for the 2014 prizes. The artistic staff of Marin Theatre Company is in the process of reading the record 900 submissions and will announce the winners of the 2014 prizes in the 2014 calendar year.
The Sky Cooper Prize and Calicchio Prize are made possible through the generous support of Norton J. "Sky" Cooper.
BIOGRAPHIES OF MTC'S 2013 PLAY PRIZE WINNERS:
Mona Mansour's play The Way West will get its world premiere in spring of 2014 at Steppenwolf, directed by Amy Morton. The play received a BareBones workshop at the Lark Play Development Center (directed by Linsay Firman) where Mona was a Fellow in 2012. The Hour of Feeling (directed by MarK Wing-Davey) received its world premiere in the 2012 Humana Festival in Louisville. Following that, it was part of the High Tide Festival in the U.K. as part of the Rifle Hall plays. Urge for Going (directed by Hal Brooks) received a LAB production in the 2011 season at The Public Theater, and had its West Coast premiere in fall 2013 at Golden Thread in San Francisco (directed by Evren Odcikin). Mona was a member of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group, a Core Writer at Minneapolis' Playwrights' Center, and has just been selected for membership in New Dramatists. Other plays include Across the Water, Girl Scouts of America and Broadcast Yourself (part of Headlong Theater's Decade). With Tala Manassah she has written The House, for Noor Theatre, After, and The Letter, which premiered in November 2012 at Golden Thread's ReOrient Festival; Mona and Tala were in residence last summer at Berkeley Rep as part of Ground Floor, where they worked on a piece called The Wife. Television credits: Dead Like Me and Queens Supreme. Honorable mention, 2010 Middle East America Playwright Award; 2012 Whiting Award.
Eric Dufault is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. His plays include Year of the Rooster (New York Time's Critics' Pick), The Tomb of King Tot, American Girls and The Desert Play. His plays have been performed at the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood as part of their 34th Annual Marathon of One Act Plays and Mainstage series. Additionally, his work has been performed at the Flea Theatre, the 52nd Street Project, the Magnet Theatre, the Theater for the New City, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Great Plains Theatre Conference. He is the recipient of a 2013 Sloan Commission, the 2010 Lipkin Playwriting Award, and the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Harle Adair Damann Playwriting Award. His play Something Fine will be published in the Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2014 anthology. He is a member of the Obie award-winning Youngblood Playwriting Group.
ABOUT MTC: Founded in 1966, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area's premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season of provocative plays by passionate playwrights from the 20th century and today in our 231-seat main stage theater, as well as a five-show Theater Series for Young Audiences in partnership with the Bay Area Children's Theatre in our 99-seat studio theater. We are committed to the development and production of new plays by American Playwrights, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes productions of world premieres, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards, readings and workshops by the nation's best emerging playwrights and membership in the National New Play Network. Our numerous education programs serve more than 6,000 students from over 40 Bay Area schools each year. MTC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.