Play about the Atlanta child murders wins Yale Drama Series competition

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Marsha Norman has selected playwright Janine Nabers as the winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series for her play “Serial Black Face.”
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Playwright Janine Nabers

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Marsha Norman has selected playwright Janine Nabers as the winner of the 2014 Yale Drama Series for her play “Serial Black Face.”

Naber’s play was chosen from 1,638 entries from 41 countries. As the winner of the competition, “Serial Black Face” will be published by Yale University Press and receive a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater. In addition, Nabers will be presented with the David Charles Horn Prize, a cash award of $10,000.

This year’s runner-up is Meny Beriro for “Excellent Souls”; honorable mention was awarded to Adam Szymkowicz for “Rare Birds.”

Now in its eighth year, the Yale Drama Series is an annual international open submission competition for emerging playwrights who are invited to submit original, unpublished, full-length, English language plays for consideration. The Yale Drama Series is funded by the David Charles Horn Foundation. Norman was the sole judge of 2013 and 2014 competitions.

“I was very pleased to judge the 2014 Yale Drama Series, the writing competition established by Francine Horn to honor her husband David Charles Horn,” says Norman.  “Janine Nabers is an extraordinary writer — powerful and funny and brave. This work is unsettling to read, but even as you read it, you know it is true. The crackling dialogue and the unswerving honesty are beautiful to experience. The character of Vivian will always be with me now. I am eager for ‘Serial Black Face’ to have the production it deserves.”

“I am incredibly honored by this prestigious award,” Nabers says, “and I’m humbled to be included in a long list of fearless and undeniably talented writers. “ ‘Serial Black Face’ is a play inspired by events surrounding the Atlanta child murders and tackles a time in America that has been gravely overlooked. I’m happy that this award can give voice to that time. To be a recipient of the Yale Drama Series Award is a privilege.”

Nabers is currently the 2013-2014 Aetna New Voices fellow at Hartford Stage. Her plays include “Annie Bosh is Missing,” “Welcome to Jesus,” “A Swell in the Ground,” the book to the Sylvia Plath /Ted Hughes musical “Mrs. Hughes” and the book to the Kate Nash/Andy Blankenbuehler musical “Only Gold.”Recent awards include: the 2013 NYFA playwriting Fellowship, the 2012 New York Theatre Workshop fellowship and the 2011 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship. Nabers is currently a member of MCC Playwrights Coalition and the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group at Primary Stages. She is an alumna of Ars Nova Play Group, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellowship, the MacDowell Fellowship, and the 2010 and 2011 Sundance Theater Program.  She is currently working on commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Hartford Stage, and The Alley Theatre.

Norman won the Pulitzer Prize for her play, “’night, Mother,” a Tony Award for the book of “The Secret Garden,” and numerous other prizes and awards for her other work off and on Broadway, which includes the musicalsThe Color Purple,” “The Trumpet of the Swan,” and the current “The Bridges of Madison County.” For the last 20 years, she has been co-director, with Christopher Durang, of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School. She is a former Vice-President of the Dramatists Guild of America and a founder of The Lilly Awards.

British playwright Nicholas Wright has been named the judge for the 2015 and 2016 Yale Drama Series Award. Wright opened and ran the Theatre Upstairs at London’s Royal Court Theatre; was joint artistic director of the Royal Court; and is a former literary manager and associate director of the Royal National Theatre. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, he was a child actor who studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has written over 30 plays, libretti, and screenplays, including “Vincent in Brixton,” “Mrs. Klein,” and “Traveling Light,” which have been performed all over the world, including at London’s Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Royal Court, as well as on Broadway by New York’s Lincoln Center Theater.

Past judges of the competition, who have each served a two-year term are Edward Albee, David Hare, and John Guare.

Submissions for the 2015 Yale Drama Series Award will be accepted no earlier than June 1, 2014, and no later than August 15, 2014. For complete competition rules, visit the website.

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