ADAA Announces Opening of 2016 Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize

LOS ANGELES—The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) recently announced that its biennial $10,000 prize for playwriting is now named the Saroyan/Paul Playwriting Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice, and will begin accepting submissions in January 2016.


The inaugural sponsor and longtime supporter of the prize, the William Saroyan Foundation, has been joined by the Lillian and Varnum Paul Fund, longtime supporter of ADAA’s Paul Screenwriting Award, to complete the funding of the biennial playwriting prize, which has become known as one of the world’s most reputable playwriting awards.

ADAA’s board decided to merge the competitions and focus solely on playwriting, which was ADAA’s original programming focus, and which has given ADAA writers their most far-reaching success and opportunities at theaters and arts institutions around the world.

In the prize’s last cycle in 2014, ADAA launched a human rights/social justice focus, opening the competition to plays that engage the audience with social and political issues or promote peace, social justice, and human rights, not only Armenian themes. This has enhanced the outreach of the prize even further around the world.

10830442_1537402536536183_8416314082136641653_oIn continuing with the work of previous years to support Armenian stories and artists, a special $2,500 prize, the Kondazian Playwriting Award for Armenian Stories, will be awarded to an outstanding play on an Armenian theme. Actress Karen Kondazian, an ADAA board member and daughter of Lillian and Varnum Paul, is the sponsor of this special prize within the competition:

“I am extremely happy to have my parents’ Paul Award join hands with the extraordinary Saroyan Foundation, to inspire and encourage human justice and dignity through the eyes of the playwright with the Saroyan/Paul Playwriting Prize,” said Kondazian. “It is also my honor to present the Kondazian Playwriting Award for Armenian Stories (through my parents’ fund) to encourage playwrights of any nationality to explore the Armenian heart.”

The Saroyan/Paul Prize for Playwriting in Human Rights/Social Justice and the Kondazian Playwriting Award for Armenian Stories will be awarded in December 2016, in honor of Human Rights Day, at ADAA’s annual awards event in Los Angeles.

The contest administrator will be ADAA president Bianca Bagatourian; the contest manager will be Elizabeth Malone, MFA actor, comedian, and teaching artist committed to sharing stories that break down cultural barriers.

Scripts can tackle topics as diverse as homelessness, genocide, and human exploitation, whether the conflicts are international, among groups and individuals, or through political participation. Scripts can also seek to create understanding of how conflicts can be resolved nonviolently instead of violently. Other themes can include minority issues that focus on racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination both in the United States and abroad, with writers making real and relevant the impact of human rights issues on our everyday lives. ADAA hopes this widened scope of the competition will help shed new light on spiritual, political, and cultural differences and issues, and will help build respect for cultural expression and identity in a world that is experiencing rapid globalization and chaos.

Between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 1, 2016, playwrights must submit a half-page synopsis of their play for the committee’s consideration—and to confirm that it is a play dealing with human rights/social justice, whether Armenian or non-Armenian themed. By March 1, 2016, writers will be invited to submit their full-length script and $20 entry fee for consideration (scripts on Armenian themes will automatically be considered for both prizes). Full scripts must be submitted by April 24, 2016.

The Saroyan/Paul Playwriting Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice is supported with grants from the William Saroyan Foundation, the Lillian and Varnum Paul Fund, Gagosian Galleries, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

For submission guidelines, visit Submissions for the prize must be e-mailed to

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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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