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Foundation Announces Winners of 2017 Playwriting Competition

The board of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is extremely pleased to announce the following winners of the foundation’s playwriting competition for 2017:

  • First Prize ($3,000): James Robert-Moore, of London, U.K., for Posterboy (Based on the Autobiography “Out in the Army”). This biographical play tells the story of James Wharton, one of the U.K.’s first openly gay servicemen, who campaigned to change the British military’s perception of and attitude toward LGBTQ soldiers.
  • Second Prize ($1,500; two second prizes awarded this year): Raquel Almazan, of New York City, for La Paloma Prisoner. Set in a Colombian prison, the play focuses on a lesbian inmate nicknamed La Paloma, convicted of killing men who raped girls. As she and other inmates prepare for a beauty pageant (an actual phenomenon in Colombian women’s prisons), the women’s stories testify to Colombia’s social, political, and spiritual history.
  • Second Prize ($1,500): Ben Noble, of Northcote, Victoria, Australia, for Member.  Told from the perspective of a queer-basher, Member presents a compelling, frightening portrait of a boy drawn into a murderous gang that preyed on gay men in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. (The play features additional words by Rochelle Bright, Meg Courtney, Bjorn Deigner, Dan Giovannoni, Elise Hearst, and Finegan Kruckemeyer.)
  • Honorable Mention ($500; three honorable mentions awarded this year): Christina Quintana, of New York City, for Azul.  This intimate “memory play” explores the interplay of generations as Zelia and Lore, a Latina lesbian couple in present-day New York City, search for Zelia’s aunt, a lesbian who remained in Cuba after the Castro revolution.
  • Honorable Mention ($500): Jack Rushen, of Stratford, Connecticut, for Taming the Lion. Set in Hollywood in 1930, the play centers on the attempt by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer to pressure movie star William “Billy” Haines into a “lavender marriage” designed to hide Haines’s homosexuality.
  • Honorable Mention ($500): Mark Saltzman, of Studio City, California, for Falling for Make Believe: The Life and Songs of Lorenz Hart. Interweaving the words from Broadway lyricist Lorenz Hart’s songs with dramatic action, the play investigates the relationship between Hart and his composer-partner, Richard Rodgers, and recovers the tragic story of Hart’s private life as a closeted gay man beset by loneliness and alcoholism.

In addition to the prizewinning playwrights, six others made it into the competition’s final round: E. H. Benedict, for The Story of Harley Procter and His Floating Soap as Re-Enacted by Two Women of Color; Tom Carney, for Uncle Charlie; Lee Doubell, for Cottage by the Sea; Cheri Magid, for The Gaba Girl; Helen Valenta, for Beautiful Man; and Kyle T. Wilson for War and Jim.

The foundation extends congratulations to all the winners and finalists and thanks all 146 playwrights from across the United States and around the world who submitted work to this year’s competition. This marks the final year of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s competition, launched in 1996. (The foundation’s production grant program will continue.) A full list of competition prizewinners can be found on the Competition Awards page of the website.

Arch Brown Memoir A Pornographer Is Published

A long-lost memoir by the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s founder, Arch Brown, has just been published by Chelsea Station Editions, New York. Written sometime during the late 1970s, A Pornographer recounts Brown’s early career as a director of sex films (both gay and straight) and his interactions with the men and women who appeared in his movies. The memoir’s manuscript was discovered among Brown’s papers following his death in the fall of 2012. A historical gem, A Pornographer provides an insightful psychological view of the performers who were drawn to having sex in front of Brown’s camera. The book features an introduction by Chelsea Station publisher (and AABBF advisory board member) Jameson Currier, an afterword by AABBF president James Waller, an extensive filmography, and many of Brown’s photographs, including shots taken on the sets of several of his films.

Chelsea Station Editions is an independent publisher devoted to gay literature. For more information about the book, or to order directly from the publisher, visit the Chelsea Station Editions websiteA Pornographer is also available from and

Foundation Awards Three New Grants in November

Three organizations will receive AABBF production grants this month:

  • The Field (New York, N.Y.), acting as fiscal sponsor for Retro Productions’ We Are a Masterpiece, by Gina Femia. The play, slated for performances at New York City’s 14th Street Y in April 2018, is set in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. Joan, a no-nonsense nurse, becomes a fairy godmother to members of the town’s gay community when no one else will step up to care for them.
  • The Living Church at Woodlawn Pointe (San Antonio, Texas), acting as fiscal sponsor for The Kindness of Strangers: The Tennessee Williams Lecture Tour, by Bernard J. Taylor. The play will be performed at Woodlawn Pointe in January 2018. Mr. Taylor’s AABBF-supported play The Last Days of Oscar Wilde, produced by San Antonio’s Overtime Theatre in March 2017, recently won the Excellence in Direction of a Drama award (director: Derek Berlin) bestowed by the Alamo Theatre Arts Council.
  • Third World Newsreels (New York, N.Y.), acting as fiscal sponsor for the documentary film Mama Bears. Directed by Daresha Kyi, whose AABBF-supported film Chavela, co-directed by Catherine Gund, premiered in New York and Los Angeles in October, Mama Bears follows a group of evangelical Christian women—all mothers of LGBTQ children—who have chosen to defy their conservative churches’ stance on homosexuality and to travel the country promoting a message of acceptance and love.

AABBF Announces New Grants and a Gift

The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announce the following grants and a gift for August, September, and October 2017:

  • Grants to Celebration Theatre, Los Angeles, to help support two productions: (1) a public reading of a new musical, Sonata, 1962, by Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges, and (2) the west coast premiere of the musical The View UpStairs, by Max Vernon. The grants are being administered by Open Fist Theatre Company of West Hollywood, Calif. The reading of Sonata, 1962, which is now in development, was held on August 22. Set in the early 1960s, the musical tells the story of a gifted young woman whose mother commits her to a psychiatric institution for electroconvulsive therapy after discovering that her daughter is a lesbian. The View UpStairs centers on the tragic UpStairs Lounge arson attack that took place on June 24, 1973, at a gay bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, in which 32 people died. Performances of UpStairs are scheduled from September 15 through October 29, and the show may be extended through Thanksgiving. For more information, consult Celebration Theatre’s website.
  • A grant to the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, N.H., for the fourth annual Arch and Bruce Brown Fellowship, which offsets the cost of a MacDowell residency for an artist working in the performing arts on a project that is LGBTQ-themed and historically inspired.
  • A grant to the Lambda Literary Foundation, Los Angeles, to underwrite a playwriting workshop at Lambda’s 2018 Writers Retreat for emerging LGBTQ Voices. This is the fourth year that the foundation has enabled this workshop.
  • A grant to support the production of a new virtual-reality film, Half A Life VR, by filmmaker Tamara Shogaolu. The grant will be administered by a third party. The new VR film continues and expands a story begun by Shogaolu in her short animated documentary Half A Life, released this year and now drawing praise on the film-festival circuit. Half A Life VR focuses on the lives of an Egyptian lesbian couple who seek asylum in the Netherlands; its story reveals an untold aspect of the current refugee crisis in Europe.
  • A gift to the Harrington Arts Alliance, Loveland, Colo., to promote student involvement in Harrington’s production of The Laramie Project, to be mounted in November of this year. To learn more, visit the group’s website.

Foundation Awards Two New Grants in July

This month, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announced two new grants:

  • A grant to the Anonymous Ensemble, of Brooklyn, N.Y., to support a concert of selections from the new opera Turing, by William Antiniou (composer) and Eamonn Farrell (librettist). The opera explores triumphs and conflicts in the life of gay British mathematician Alan Turing. The concert will be held on October 4, 2017, at National Sawdust, at 80 North 6th Street in Brooklyn. For more information on the Anonymous Ensemble, visit the group’s website.
  • A grant to support a workshop and staged reading of the play Trigger, by Darrel Holnes. Trigger’s characters and their stories are based on the real-life experiences of African-American soldiers—some gay or bisexual—at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The staged reading will be presented at the Jerry Labowitz Theatre for Performing Arts at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Playwriting Competition Submission Period Has Ended

The submission period for the foundation’s 2017 playwriting competition has now ended. Submissions received after midnight on May 31, 2017, will not be accepted. Many thanks to all those participating in this year’s competition. Winners will be announced in November.

AABBF Announces Two Grants for June

The foundation is pleased to announce the following production grants for June 2017:

  • An award to About Face Theatre of Chicago, Ill., to help support the production of Brave Like Them, devised, written, and performed by the About Face Youth Theatre ensemble. This play (with original music) concerns the rise of the underground feminist “riot grrrl” movement in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s. The riot grrrls combined feminist consciousness with punk rock, giving birth to a subculture of female-produced (and often lesbian-focused) art, music, and literature. Brave Like Them will run for eight performances, from July 27 through August 6, 2017, at the Buena Theater at Chicago’s new Pride Arts Center. To learn more, visit About Face’s website.
  • An award to Plan-B Theatre Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, to help support its world premiere production of The Ice Front, by Utah playwright Eric Samuelsen. The play offers a glimpse into the complexities of navigating survival as a gay man during the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II. The Ice Front will be performed at the Studio Theatre at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City from November 9 through 19, 2017. For more information, visit Plan-B’s website.

About Face and Plan-B are both two-time recipients of AABBF production grants. We applaud the companies for their ongoing outstanding and innovative work in LGBTQ theater.

Foundation Announces Gift, Grants for May

This month, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announce two new production grants and a gift:

  • A gift to support the work of Iron Crow Theatre, of Baltimore, Md. Founded in 2009 Iron Crow is Baltimore’s only professional queer theater company. For information on Iron Crow, visit the company’s website.
  • A grant to the Movement Theatre Company, of New York City, to help support the production of And She Would Stand Like This, by Harrison David Rivers. The play, a theatrical retelling of Euripides’ The Trojan Women fused with the world of underground LGBTQ ball culture, will have its world premiere in July of this year. For more information about the company, visit its website.
  • A grant to Truth Aid, of Port Ewen, N.Y., to help support the production of the feature-length documentary film Who Is Reno Martin? The film investigates a trove of letters found in a storage unit belonging to the late Hollywood agent Ed Limato. The letters, all written by New York City drag queens and addressed to someone named Reno Martin, open a fascinating window into LGBTQ life in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. Truth Aid is acting as fiscal sponsor for the film’s production. A rough cut of the film’s trailer can be viewed here.

Foundation Announces Three New Grants for April

The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is pleased to announce the following three grants:

  • A grant to Diversionary Theatre, San Diego, Calif., to help support the production of a new musical, The Loneliest Girl in the World, by Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald. Using the historical rise to fame of Anita Bryant, the musical outlines the trajectory of the LGBT civil rights movement by fictionalizing the personal journey of two activists on either side of the political spectrum. Diversionary Theatre will present the world premiere of Loneliest Girl in spring 2018. For more information on the company, visit its website.
  • A grant to Human Resources LA, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., to help support the production of a catalogue accompanying Tyler Matthew Oyer’s new video interpretation of Charles Ludlam’s The Conquest of the Universe, or When Queens Collide, first presented by Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967. Oyer’s four-channel video installation, featuring 21 actors, will premiere at Human Resources LA in July of this year.
  • A grant to Participant, Inc., New York City, to help support the production of filmmaker Conrad Ventur’s as yet untitled feature-length documentary film about 1960s–1970s drag performer Mario Montez.
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