The winners of the 2023 Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting have been announced.
The award, which is given by The New York Community Trust, awards $30,000 to each individual playwright to support their continued work. Previous winners have received Pulitzer Prizes, Tony Awards, Obie Awards, and Guggenheim Fellowships, among other honors.
Carmen is a Black Dominican playwright, screenwriter, and performer, and the co-founder and co-artistic director of the Latinx Playwrights Circle. Medley is a Black playwright and teacher who has been commissioned by the Ensemble Studio Theater, Blackberry Productions, Trilogy Opera Company, Gatekeepers Collective, Bread and Roses Theater, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Martha's Vineyard Theater. Ogawa is a Tokyo-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director, performer, and translator whose work centers women and nonbinary perspectives to explores cultural identity and the immigrant experience. Yan is a transgender New York-based artist who was born in China and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii; their work has been produced by the American Repertory Theater, Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian, NAMT, Musical Theater Factory, the New York Musical Festival, Mixed Blood, and Diversionary Theater.
“Each of these recipients embody the qualities that inspired Helen Merrill: creative daring, unique perspective, and fierce love for theater,” said Salem Tsegaye, the trusts program officer for arts and culture. “We’re grateful to our advisory committee for recommending yet another outstanding cohort of awardees and look forward to seeing the works these playwrights will create over the years.”