- by Jacob Coakley
in Theatre Buzz
Christopher Chen has won Theatre Bay Area’s Will Glickman Award for his play The Hundred Flowers Project. The award honors the author or authors of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area the preceding year and comes with a $4,000 prize. Produced by Crowded Fire and the Playwrights Foundation, The Hundred Flowers Project follows a collective of actors as they use 21st century digital media tools to explore the propaganda mechanisms of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As their play becomes a successful, high-tech, worldwide spectacle, the play begins to dramatically shift, and seemingly outside events begin to surface inside the story, leaving us to figure out who, or what, is in control.
Christopher Chen’s The Hundred Flowers Project Wins Glickman Award for Best New Play to Premiere in the Bay Area in 2012
January 22, 2013 (San Francisco): Playwright Christopher Chen has won the prestigious Will Glickman Award for The Hundred Flowers Project, which received its world premiere with Crowded Fire Theater and Playwrights Foundation in October 2012. Chen, Crowded Fire and Playwrights Foundation will receive awards as part of Theatre Bay Area’s “Faces of Theatre Bay Area” event on March 4, 2012 at the San Francisco Playhouse in San Francisco. In addition, Chen will receive the award’s $4,000 purse.
In The Hundred Flowers Project, a collective of actors use 21st century digital media tools to explore the propaganda mechanisms of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As their play becomes a successful, high-tech, worldwide spectacle, the play begins to dramatically shift, and seemingly outside events begin to surface inside the story, leaving us to figure out who, or what, is in control.
“I’m truly honored to receive this award for a project that was a labor of love for myself, Crowded Fire and Playwrights Foundation,” Chen says. “I’m thrilled to have been a part of such an amazing year of Bay Area theatre, and I'm proud to be a member of this community.”
“We're deeply proud of nurturing this seminal new play from commission through production with Christopher Chen and our coproducers at Playwrights Foundation,” says Crowded Fire artistic director Marissa Wolf. “To win one of the most prestigious awards in the Bay Area, joining the ranks of leading new play companies including Berkeley Rep, TheatreWorks and the Magic, is a tremendous honor. I feel very moved by the Glickman Award’s powerful support of innovative new work, promoting truly risky, exciting new plays like The Hundred Flowers Project.”
“Playwrights Foundation is honored and enormously proud to have supported Chris as one of our resident playwrights,” says Playwrights Foundation artistic director Amy Mueller. “Deeply unconventional, this play pushed past everything we knew about theatre into completely unknown territory; it was our unshakable belief in the artistic brilliance of this playwright, our commitment to a complex process for his vision, and our partnership with Crowded Fire that sustained this three-year journey. It has been a delight to join together in support of this hard-working and brave writer, and so gratifying that Chris is now being recognized by this wonderful award. Let one hundred more productions bloom as a result!”
This is the first Glickman Award for Crowded Fire and the second for Playwrights Foundation, which won the prize in 2005 for its coproduction of Liz Duffy Adams’s play Dog Act with Shotgun Players.
“I’m so pleased to present this year’s Will Glickman Award to Christopher Chen for The Hundred Flowers Project,” says Theatre Bay Area executive director Brad Erickson. “Chris’s writing is thrilling, pushing boundaries, pushing the audience and his collaborators, but always grounded in close and compassionate observation of human behavior. The play’s premiere, a coproduction of Crowded Fire and the Playwrights Foundation, exemplifies the best of Bay Area new work development and our community’s spirit of collaboration.”
Administered by Theatre Bay Area and started in 1984 to honor Bay Area playwright and screenwriter Will Glickman, the Will Glickman Award is presented annually to the author or authors of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area the preceding year. The winner is chosen by a panel of top Bay Area theatre critics: Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Avila of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Karen D’Souza of the San Jose Mercury News, Chad Jones of TheaterDogs.net and Sam Hurwitt of the Marin Independent Journal.
The panel also named another strong contender as a runner-up for this year’s award: Josh Costello’s stage adaptation of Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother, premiered by Custom Made Theatre Co., the full text of which is published in the January/February issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine.
Last year’s Glickman winner, Rajiv Joseph’s The North Pool, opens off-Broadway in February in a new staging by the director of its original TheatreWorks production, Giovanna Sardelli. The 2011 winner, Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey, went on to celebrated productions in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, and the 2010 winner In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) went on to become playwright Sarah Ruhl’s Broadway debut. Other past recipients include Tony Kushner for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (1992), Philip Kan Gotanda for Yankee Dawg You Die (1989), Octavio Solis for Santos y Santos (1994) and Leigh Fondakowski et al for The People’s Temple (2006).
Tickets will be available shortly for the “Faces of Theatre Bay Area” event, which, in addition to celebrating the Glickman awardees, will also spotlight other outstanding notables of the Bay Area theatre community. Visit www.theatrebayarea.org/Faces for more information.
About the Artist
Christopher Chen’s plays include Into the Numbers, The Window Age, Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act and The Hundred Flowers Project, which recently had its world premiere with Crowded Fire Theater and Playwrights Foundation. His work has been produced and developed at American Conservatory Theater, Asian American Theater Company, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Bay One Acts/Instrumental Theatre, Beijing Fringe Festival, Central Works, Cutting Ball Theater, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Fluid Motion, hotINK Festival, Just Theater, Lark Play Development Center, Magic Theatre, Silk Road Theatre Project and Theatre Mu. Honors include the 2012 Rella Lossy Playwriting Award (for The Hundred Flowers Project), 2nd Place in the Belarus Free Theater International Competition of Modern Dramaturgy, a Ford Foundation Emerging Writer of Color Grant and finalist status for the Jerome Fellowship. He is a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, a graduate of UC Berkeley, and holds an MFA in playwriting from SF State.
About the Companies
Founded in 1997 by Rebecca Novick and a group of young artists interested in experimental contemporary theatre, Crowded Fire Theater produces poetic, bold theatre created by new and contemporary artists. It seeks to engage its community by producing adventurous work, innovative in structure, which addresses the diverse political and social concerns of its audiences. Currently in its 15th season, Crowded Fire serves as an indispensable home for new play production on the West Coast. CFT develops and produces a diversity of plays compelling in language, vision and structure. Playwrights such as Liz Duffy Adams, Christina Anderson, Lisa D’Amour, Lauren Gunderson, Young Jean Lee and Caridad Svich were all lauded in the Bay Area for the first time through Crowded Fire productions.
Founded in 1976 by Robert Woodruff, Playwrights Foundation is now recognized as one of the top six new play development centers in the country, and the only one of its scope on the West Coast, serving writers at all levels of career placement and artistic maturity. Playwrights Foundation exists to support and champion contemporary playwrights in the creation of new works to advance theatre as a vital, dynamic art form. PF actively fosters the developmental process of playmaking and the dissemination of new works to national theatre producers, while sustaining a commitment to the playwright, whom it regards as the creative wellspring of the theatre. Since its inception, PF has served more than 400 writers, providing free, indispensable resources and support for the development of their creative work and careers. In 2005 Playwrights Foundation received a Will Glickman Award as the coproducer of Dog Act by Liz Duffy Adams with Shotgun Players.
About the Glickman Award
Created to honor playwright and screen writer Will Glickman, the Will Glickman Award is presented annually to the author of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area during the preceding year. The winner is chosen by a panel of top Bay Area theatre critics. The goal of the fund is to encourage new plays and their production as invaluable investments in American theatre. In 2004, Theatre Bay Area, the nation’s largest regional theatre service organization, took over administration of the award. This is the 30th award.
About Theatre Bay Area
Theatre Bay Area’s mission is to unite, strengthen, promote and advance the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on behalf of our conviction that the performing arts are an essential public good, critical to a truly prosperous and democratic society and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth. Now entering our fourth decade, Theatre Bay Area serves theatre companies, theatremakers and theatregoers as:
• A professional association for theatre and dance companies. Our membership includes more than 350 companies, ranging from large flagship institutions to small grassroots community groups located throughout the nine-county Bay Area.
• A service organization providing support, career development and community for theatre artists.
• An information clearinghouse for the arts offering a broad array of print and online publications as well as informational convenings, forums and conferences.
• A hub for theatregoers, building audiences for the arts by connecting theatregoers with arts offerings.
• A significant arts funder providing over $150,000 in grants to artists and theatre and dance companies each year through our seven granting programs.
• A champion for the arts working to shape public policy and build consensus around the idea that the performing arts are critical to a healthy society, through advocacy with key government leaders, funders, media outlets and the business community and engagement of our membership to advocate on their own behalf.
For more information: http://www.theatrebayarea.org.