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.
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.