ADAA to Award $10,000 Saroyan Playwriting Prize

LOS ANGELES—To kick off Human Rights Day, the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) on Dec. 6 will award the 2014 William Saroyan Playwriting Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice ($10,000) at a gala event at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Special honorees include Meg Ryan and co-producers Erik Jendresen, Janet Brenner, and Laura Ivey for “Ithaca,” a new film version of Saroyan’s “The Human Comedy,” premiering in 2015. Accepting for them will be “Ithaca” star Alex Neustaedter, who will show “sneak peek” production stills. Saroyan’s story for the 1943 film won an Academy Award.

Screenwriter Mardik Martin (“Raging Bull,” “Mean Streets”) will receive the ADAA’s annual Armenian Star Award, presented by sound industry icon and former Television Academy president Levon Leo Chaloukian.

“This biennial playwriting prize honors William Saroyan’s commitment to engaging community and promoting social justice through art,” said ADAA president Bianca Bagatourian. “We will also honor Amnesty International USA and the Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation for their human rights advocacy, and give our Commendation for Armenian Excellence for an Armenian-themed play in honor of Saroyan’s heritage.”

The three finalist plays are “Carla Cooks the War,” by Laura Maria Censabella; “I Am not Mine,” by Sevan Kaloustian-Greene; and “Manahatta,” by Mary Kathryn Nagle.

A stellar panel of judges includes Sebastian Born of the UK’s National Theatre, Erik Ehn of Brown University, and David Lan of the Young Vic Theatre in London and soon-to-be-built Performing Arts Center at New York’s World Trade Center.

Actress and television host Jill Simonian will emcee the event. Dianne Philibosian of CSUN will chair the gala. The grand prize will be presented by Pier Carlo Talenti of the Center Theatre Group. A painting by William Saroyan during his Paris phase will be silent-auctioned.

Tickets for the event are $60/person and are available at

The ADAA is the world’s top Armenian performing arts organization, hosting $10,000 writing contests, play readings, and other programs. The ADAA’s international William Saroyan Playwriting Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice is made possible by a grant from The William Saroyan Foundation and Gagosian Gallery. For more information, visit

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