LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) recently announced the three finalists and upcoming event for its Third Biennial $10,000 William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting Award.
The finalists are: “Doon,” by Sevan Kaloustian Greene; “Night Over Erzinga,” by Adriana Sevahn Nichols; and “Belonging to the Sky,” by Kelly Stuart.
Sevan Kaloustian Greene is a New York-based Lebanese‐Armenian/Pakistani actor and playwright. He is a member of the Public Theater’s 2011 Emerging Writers Group, Rising Circle Theatre Collective’s 2010 InkTANK Writer’s Lab; a New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) 2011/12 Teaching Artist at the Khalil Gibran Academy; and a previous William Saroyan Playwriting Prize Finalist in 2010. “Doon” takes the familiar genre of the kitchen sink family drama and focuses it through the lens of four generations of an Armenian family living in Cliffside Park, N.J.
Adriana Sevahn Nichols is a native New Yorker and award-winning actress and playwright. She received the 2008 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award to research and write “Night Over Erzinga,” inspired by her Armenian grandparent’s survival of the genocide in 1915. The play has been produced by the Lark Play Development Center in New York, the Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago, and Golden Thread in San Francisco. Her one-woman show about friendship and September 11, “Taking Flight,” had its world premiere in May 2006 by Center Theater Group in Los Angeles, and she has performed it at several theaters nationwide.
Kelly Stuart is an American playwright based in New York. She currently teaches in the playwriting program and Columbia University. Her plays include “Shadow Language” (Oberon Press), which was presented by Theatre 503 in London and originally commissioned by the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis; “Mayhem,” which played at Manchester’s Royal Exchange in the U.K., as well as the Evidence Room in Los Angeles (with Megan Mullally); and “Demonology” at Playwrights Horizons in New York and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. “Belonging to the Sky” is a lyrical intertwining of two monologues by Sabiha Gökçen and Hrant Dink and their tragic historical connection.
The $10,000 Saroyan grand prize winner will be announced at an invitation-only awards event on Sat., Dec. 8 at 6 p.m., at the Pasadena Playhouse VIP Room. Three finalist plays were selected by a first-round panel of theater professionals from a pool of submissions from around the world. The winner will be selected by this year’s Honorary Jury of renowned theater artists: playwright Catherine Filloux, playwright/screenwriter Eduardo Machado, and actress/producer Gates McFadden.
ADAA’s annual Armenian Star Award will also be presented at the event. The award recognizes an individual who has reached high artistic achievement in their career or has assisted Armenians in the arts. This year’s recipient is David Kherdian, the internationally known poet, novelist, and memoirist, whose work has been published in 13 languages, including his acclaimed Root River Cycle. The Road From Home, his renowned biography of his mother who survived the Armenian Genocide, has been in print for over 30 years. He is also the editor of the volume Forgotten Bread: First Generation Armenian American Writers.
ADAA’s William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting, for plays on Armenian themes, is made possible by a grant from the William Saroyan Foundation, which established the award at ADAA in 2007-08 in conjunction with the William Saroyan Centennial. The Foundation’s chairman is Haig Mardikian. Additional funding for the prize was provided by Gagosian Galleries.
ADAA’s mission is to project the Armenian voice on the world stage through the arts of theater and film. It accomplishes this through two writing contests, playreadings, the Boston Armenian Film Festival, various networking events, and www.armeniandrama.org.