This year's $5,000 Honorable Mention prize goes to Tanya Barfield, author of the plays Blue Door, Wanting North, and Defacing Patriotic Property. Both awards will be presented on Sunday, November 20 at The National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South) in New York City. The festivities will include a staged reading of a play by Margolin, directed by Michael Parva.
The recipient of the Kesselring Prize is selected each year through a unique process: The National Arts Club invites approximately a dozen theaters across the U.S. to nominate playwrights who show exceptional promise but have yet to receive prominent national attention. Previous recipients of the prize include Tony Kushner, David Auburn, Melissa James Gibson, Paula Vogel, Nicky Silver, Anna Deavere Smith, David Lindsay-Abaire, José Rivera, Heather McDonald, Philip Kan Gotanda, Kira Obolensky, Tracey Scott Wilson and Marion McClinton.
This year's judges were playwright John Guare, playwright/performer Eric Bogosian, and Lincoln Center Theater dramaturg Anne Cattaneo. The judges base the award on a work of the nominated playwright's choosing. Margolin was nominated by Cleveland Public Theatre and submitted Three Seconds in the Key; Barfield was nominated by Seattle Rep and submitted Blue Door.
The complete list of nominated playwrights, nominating theaters, and plays submitted for the 2005 Kesselring Prize follows:
Actors Theatre of Louisville: Adam Bock, Swimming in the Shallows
Atlantic Theatre Company: Courtney Baron, Morbidity & Morality
Center Theater Group (Mark Taper Forum): Michelle Carter, Let the Pony Sing
Cleveland Public Theatre: Deb Margolin, Three Seconds in the Key
The Goodman Theatre: Karen Zacarias, Mariela in the Desert
INTAR: Jorge Ignacio Cortinas, Bird in the Hand
Magic Theatre: Betty Shamieh, The Black Eye
MCC Theatre: Brooke Berman, A Perfect Couple
Milwaukee Repertory: Itamar Moses, Bach at Leipzig
Penumbra Theater: L. Trey Wilson, Stage Directions
The Playwrights' Center: Allison Moore, Hazard County
Seattle Repertory: Tanya Barfield, Blue Door
Southern Repertory: Rosary O'Neill, Degas in New Orleans
Margolin is a playwright, performance artist and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of six full-length solo performance pieces, which she has toured throughout the United States, as well as numerous plays. She is the recipient of the 1999-2000 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance.
Barfield's works for the stage include Dent, The Quick, 121 Degrees West, Pecan Tan, The Houdini Act, and Snapshot, in addition to the plays noted above. She also wrote the book for the children's musical Kofi's Civil War. She has performed a one-woman show titled Without Skin or Breathlessness and is currently working on The Force of Night, a play about four generations of black men.
The Kesselring Prize is named in honor of playwright Joseph Kesselring, author of Arsenic and Old Lace. The award was first presented by The National Arts Club in 1980, funded by Kesselring's widow. For information about The National Arts Club and its programs, call 212-475-3424.