LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) recently announced the finalists for the $10,000 William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting in Human Rights/Social Justice. They are “Carla Cooks the War,” by Laura Maria Censabella; “I Am Not Mine,” by Sevan Kaloustian-Greene; and “Manahatta,” by Mary Kathryn Nagle.
The runners-up were “Veritas,” by Betty Shamieh; “Mr. America,” by Jules Tasca; and “The Family Steering Committee,” by Steve Karp.
The three finalists for the $1,000 Commendation for Armenian Excellence Award are “Bosphorus” by Gorune Aprikian and Eric De Roquefeuil; “My Genius of Humanity,” by Richard Kalinoski; and “In the Name of Silence,” by Sevan Kaloustian-Greene
On Sat., Dec. 6, at 6 p.m., in conjunction with Human Rights Day, the Saroyan Prize will be awarded at a VIP reception at the Pasadena Playhouse. The grand prize will be awarded by Pier Carlo Talenti, the literary manager of Center Theater Group (CTG).
Censabella’s “Carla Cooks The War” asks such questions as, “After a war how do innocent survivors take on the roles of victimizer and oppressor?” and “How do witnesses to the same atrocities harmonize their various interpretations of what actually happened, and what becomes of their ability to love and nurture if they don’t?”
Inspired by the Syrian Civil War and Greek Tragedies, “I Am Not Mine” examines the unforeseen aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions. Written by Kaloustian-Greene, this new play is a playwright’s response to the Syrian Civil War/Revolution examining the sins that will be visited on the coming generations.
Nagle’s “Manahatta” tells a narrative that focuses on one of the United States’ most egregious historical social justice atrocities: the genocide of the Native Americans who lived on the land prior to the country’s inception. Interweaving the past and the present, it presents a patchwork quilt of questions regarding how past social abuses continue to inform social and human rights issues today in America, inviting us to learn what it means to be Native in 21st-century America.
The renowned honorary jury for the 2014 William Saroyan Playwriting Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice is made up of Sebastian Born, associate director of the National Theatre, London; Erik Ehn, American playwright and director of “Writing for Performance” at Brown University; and David Lan, artistic director of the Young Vic Theatre in London.
With the 2014 cycle of the competition, ADAA’s $10,000 William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting launched a human rights/social justice focus to include plays that engage an audience with social and political issues and/or promote peace, social justice, and human rights, in addition to plays with Armenian themes. This resulted in a significant increase in submissions to the contest from around the world.
“We can’t stress enough how touched we were by the scope of the pieces we received—plays that seek to illuminate dire conditions in dark corners of our world. It has truly been an honor for us to be able to host this contest on ‘human rights!'” said Bianca Bagatourian, this year’s contest administrator.
In continuing with the work of previous years to support Armenian stories and artists, a special Commendation for Armenian Excellence will be awarded to a play on an Armenian theme.
The Saroyan Prize is made possible by a donation from the William Saroyan Foundation, which inaugurated the award at ADAA in 2007. Haig Mardikian is the president of the William Saroyan Foundation; Scott Setrakian is the vice president. Additional support for the prize comes from Gagosian Galleries and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
For more information, visit ADAA’s newly redesigned website, http://www.armeniandrama.org, or e-mail [email protected] Event information is available on itsmyseat.com. The donation per person is $60.