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Radha Blank Wins Inaugural Hermitage Major Theater Award

The stage and screen writer will receive a $35,000 commission to create an original work.

Hermitage Major Theater Award winner Radha Blank
(Image provided by the Hermitage Artist Retreat)

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, has named playwright and director Radha Blank as the inaugural recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award. Blank will receive a cash prize of $35,000, as well as a residency at the Hermitage (Sarasota County, Florida) and a developmental workshop in New York.

The Hermitage Major Theater Award, offering one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country, is a national jury-selected prize that was established earlier this year with support from the Kutya Major Foundation.

"I am thrilled to receive this kind of support from the theater-making community, and honored to be the first recipient of this awesome award," said Blank in a statement. "This recognition is very affirming. This commission answers the question: how can I continue to do my work and not jump into a system that is constantly asking me to conform and change who I am? Having a destination and an actual place and community to create is a gift. I don't take it lightly. I really appreciate this."

Blank's debut feature film, The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix), was awarded the 2020 Sundance Film Festival's Vanguard Award as well as the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award. Blank also penned the play Seed, which received a Helen Merrill Award, and has written for the television series Empire (Fox) and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It (Netflix). Blank is also known to many audiences as RadhaMUSprime, performing her unique brand of hip-hop comedy around the world.

The Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) was established this year to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. The inaugural HMTA Award Committee included Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Doug Wright, Tony-nominated director Leigh Silverman, and Tony-nominated director Liesl Tommy.