WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES THE RECIPIENT OF THE 2023 L. ARNOLD WEISSBERGER NEW PLAY AWARD
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
AS THE RECIPIENT OF THE
2023 L. ARNOLD WEISSBERGER NEW PLAY AWARD
New York, NY (January 31, 2023) – Williamstown Theatre Festival (Jenny Gersten, Interim Artistic Director) is pleased to announce Clarence Coo as the recipient of the 2023 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award for his play Chapters of a Floating Life. Coo will receive the $10,000 award and the accompanying $10,000 Jay Harris Commission to write a new play. The play will also receive a reading at the Festival this summer as part of the Fridays@3 reading series, showcasing new work in development.
In Chapters of a Floating Life, two couples from China try to make ends meet in New York City in the wake of the Second World War. One husband and wife live uptown, obsessed with a past of poetry, painting, and gardens. Another pair face the day-to-day reality of keeping a Chinatown restaurant in business. Their worlds, previously separated by class and education, converge when the two women find each other in Central Park and fall under the spell of the Chinese language.
Williamstown Theatre Festival administers the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award on behalf of WTF Trustee Emeritus Fredda Harris and the Anna L. Weissberger Foundation. Championed for the Festival in 1998 by Fredda’s late husband and former WTF Trustee Jay Harris, the award honors noted theatrical attorney and avid theater supporter L. Arnold Weissberger, and it is designed to recognize excellence in playwriting. Recent recipients of the award include Mike Lew for his play tiny father (2022), John J. Caswell, Jr. for Wet Brain (2021), and Sanaz Toossi for English (2020).
Submissions for the award are by invitation only and are carefully evaluated by a team of readers over the course of six months. The five finalist plays are considered by a panel of three judges. The finalists for the 2023 award were Jordans by Ife Olujobi, Sperm Donor Wanted (or, The Unnamed Baby Play) by TJ Young, The Door (The Senior Sex Play) by Jessica Dickey, and Trojan Women by Lauren Gunderson. The finalist judges for the 2023 award were Allyson Tucker-Mitchell, actress and founding member of Black Theatre United; Albert Park, actor (Man of God at Williamstown Theatre Festival, 2022); and Maggie Burrows, director (Man of God).
Clarence Coo was born in the Philippines and grew up in a crowded, multilingual household in Virginia. He writes about language, class, and sexuality. His plays include On That Day in Amsterdam, The God of Wine, The Birds of Empathy, Beautiful Province (Belle Province), and People Sitting in Darkness. His work has been produced or developed at Primary Stages, the Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has received fellowships from the Dramatists Guild of America, the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop at the Lark, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Playwrights Realm, and he has been the recipient of a Whiting Award and the Yale Drama Series Prize. He received his MFA in playwriting at Columbia University. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and an alumnus of New Dramatists.
ABOUT WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
For seven decades, the Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought emerging and professional theater artists together in the Berkshires to create a thrilling summer festival of diverse, world premiere plays and musicals, bold new revivals, and a rich array of accompanying cultural events.
Artists are drawn to Williamstown Theatre Festival to make great theater in an environment conducive to artistic risk-taking. Matthew Broderick, Audra McDonald, Dominique Morisseau, Mary-Louise Parker, Susan Stroman, Uma Thurman, and Blair Underwood are just a few of the luminous theater artists who have worked at the Festival. Many others, including Sterling K. Brown, Ty Burrell, Charlie Day, Paul Giamatti, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Brie Larson, Chris Pine, and George C. Wolfe, began their careers at the Festival.
Productions and artists shaped at the Festival fill theaters in New York City and around the world. Recently, Williamstown Theatre Festival was represented on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally by The Sound Inside, Grand Horizons, The Rose Tattoo, The Visit, Fool for Love, The Elephant Man, Seared, Selling Kabul, Unknown Soldier, and Lempicka, to name just a few. Cost of Living, which was developed and premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival, was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and made its Broadway debut last fall.
Learn more about Williamstown Theatre Festival at www.wtfestival.org.
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