The American Playwriting Foundation, established to make annual grants to new American plays, has selected Gracie Gardner for the 2017 Relentless Award, the largest annual cash prize in American theatre awarded to a play.
Established in honor of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, this year’s Relentless Award winner, Gardner's Pussy Sludge, concerns a young woman who is also an oil well. The play is described as a “tender exploration of questioning authority, suspending shame through intimacy, and very bad advice.”
Gardner will be awarded $45,000, and the play will receive an extensive national roll-out in American theatre, with staged readings at some of the most esteemed theatres in the country.
The 2017 finalists included One More Less by Kate Cortesi; Hamlet by Mia Fefferman by Mara Nelson-Greenberg; and There's Always the Hudson by Paola Lázaro. This year’s semifinalists were The Mermaids' Parade by Gina Femia; Sanctuary City by Martyna Majok; Wink by Jen Silverman; and Before Evening Comes by Philana Omorotionmwan.
The eight women named as winner, finalists, and semifinalists were selected through a blind judging process from 1,000 submissions by a committee comprised of top playwrights. The 2017 Play Selection Committee included Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, David Bar Katz, Dominique Morriseau, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and Lucy Thurber.
The Ed Vassallo Relentless Reading Series will kick off in New York City at The New Group, and other participating companies include The American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco (ACT), Asolo Repertory Theater (Sarasota), The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Goodman (Chicago), The Huntington (Boston), The Wilma (Philadelphia), Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and The Williamstown Theater Festival.
The American Playwriting Foundation is partnering with two London theatres to give eight American playwrights per year an opportunity to create artistic relationships with the British theatre community. The Old Vic will annually present a staged reading of the Relentless Award-winning play in London, featuring a British cast and director. The eight Relentless Award finalists and semi-finalists will be part of a week-long Reading Series at Theatre503, a 60-seat new venue situated in Battersea, South London, that launches the work of more new writers than any other theatre in the U.K.
The winning playwright will also have a week-long residency with a cast and director at SPACE on Ryder Farm, an artist residency program housed on a working organic farm in Brewster, New York.