Theater News

Emily Schwend Wins 2016 Yale Drama Series Prize for Utility

Schwend’s award-winning play made its off-Broadway world premiere earlier this year.

Playwright Emily Schwend has earned the 2016 Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Utility.
Emily Schwend has earned the 2016 Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Utility.
(© Russ Rowland)

Emily Schwend has won the 10th Annual Yale Drama Series Prize for her play Utility. Schwend was selected by playwright Nicholas Wright, who has served as judge for the 2015 and 2016 competitions.

Utility had its world premiere at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in January 2016 in a production by the Amoralists Theatre Company. The story is described as follows: "Amber has two jobs, three kids, and an eight-year-old's birthday party to plan. The house needs fixing up, and her on-again, off-again husband, Chris, just can't help but make things worse. As Amber struggles to keep things from boiling over, she finds herself a stranger to the person she once was and the person she thought she might be."

This year's runners-up for the prize are Sarah DeLappe for The Wolves and Nina Segal for In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises).

The Yale Drama Series Prize, sponsored by the David Charles Horn Foundation, is given out annually for a play by an emerging playwright. The winner receives the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, as well as publication of the winning play by Yale University Press and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater's Claire Tow Theater. The Yale Drama Series is an annual international open submission competition for emerging playwrights who are invited to submit original, unpublished, full-length, English language plays for consideration. All entries are read blindly.

"I am honored to add my name to the list of talented and daring playwrights who have won the Yale Drama Series award, a list full of stories by and about women," says Schwend. "When I started writing Utility, I wanted to show how small setbacks are not so small when there is absolutely no room for error in one's life. And how, for Amber, whose life has become almost entirely composed of endless chores, mounting frustrations, and daily crises, the value of truly being seen by another person is a rare, altruistic gift. I am so pleased that Utility was chosen for this award, which will help this story — and Amber — continue to be seen."