Aleshea Harris Wins 2016 Relentless Award

by Jacob Coakley
Is God Is, by Aleshea Harris, will receive readings across the country.
Is God Is, by Aleshea Harris, will receive readings across the country.

Aleshea Harris will receive $45,000—the largest cash prize in American theatre for a play—as well as multiple staged readings of her play, for her new work Is God Is. The Relentless award honors Philip Seymour Hoffman and “his pursuit of truth in theatre.” 

ALESHEA HARRIS HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE AMERICAN PLAYWRITING FOUNDATION AS THE WINNER OF THE 2016 “RELENTLESS AWARD”IN HONOR OF PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
THE LARGEST ANNUAL CASH PRIZE IN AMERICAN THEATER AWARDED TO A PLAY

New York, NY – The American Playwriting Foundation (Executive Director David Bar Katz), established to make annual grants to new American plays, has selected Aleshea Harris for The 2016 Relentless Award, the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a play. Established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his pursuit of truth in the theater, this year’s Relentless Award winner is Is God Is, a revenge tale of twin sisters that takes its cues from the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the spaghetti Western, hip-hop and Afropunk. The play explores deviant morality, patricide, familial dysfunction and the perilous landscape of orphaned black girl/womanhood. The playwright, Aleshea Harris, will be awarded $45,000, and the play will receive the most extensive national roll-out in American theater, with staged readings at some of the most esteemed theaters in the country.

The Play Selection Committee was comprised of some of America’s top playwrights, including Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, David Bar Katz, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman, and Lucy Thurber, who received and considered over 2,000 submissions. They sought out plays that were challenging, and plays that were, as the name would have it, relentlessly truthful.

The Ed Vassallo Relentless Reading Series will be kicked 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 (Philiadelphia), Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and The Williamstown Theater Festival. Along with the cash earnings, the authors of The Relentless Award-winning plays will have the option to have their work published by the Dramatists Play Service.

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.

For more information, please click here: http://www.americanplaywritingfoundation.org 

The American Playwriting Foundation’s Artistic Advisors are composed of theater professionals who were all friends and collaborators of Philip Seymour Hoffman, including Peter DuBois, Scott Elliott, Robert Falls, Mandy Greenfeld, Ethan Hawke, Dominique Morisseau, Gregory Mosher, Austin Pendleton and Yul Vazquez.

Laura Ramadei is the Director of Creative Development for The American Playwriting Foundation.