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Monday, February 16, 2009


The Fab Marquee News Desk.

February 13, 2009 - The National Arts Club announced the recipients of its Kesselring Fellowship (formerly the Kesselring Award) supporting the work of extraordinary playwrights who have yet to achieve national recognition. An industry panel of writers, literary managers, actors, producers and directors and critics evaluated twenty-five finalists. In a rare move based on extraordinary merit, the 2009 panel and the National Arts Club choose to give out two lead awards rather than one. These two playwrights, Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghad Zoo, upcoming at the Mark Taper Forum) and David Adjmi (Stunning, upcoming at Lincoln Center 3) were awarded Kesselring Fellowships. Playwrights Jenny Schwartz and Tarrel Alvin McCraney were also named as Kesselring Honorees.

Ari Edelson, Artistic Director of the Kesselring Panel, stated, "The National Arts Club is one of the premiere institutional supporters and champions of the arts in NY, and this year the panel was honored to have the Club's support in awarding not just one lead award but two. Over twenty of America's premiere theatres participated in this process and the final selection panel is the only review entity that is truly made up of peer artists, producers and critics. The four playwrights highlighted by this year's awards represent a true cross-section of the bold ways American theatre is moving forward, and we are positive we have chosen four writers we will be hearing from for decades to come."

"In these tough economic times, The National Arts Club was excited to make sure the esteemed Kesselring Felllowships took a lead in ensuring we treasure our best artists," said Aldon James, Jr., President of the National Arts Club. "By giving out two lead awards, we hope we can rebuke the trend of those who are pulling back their arts funding and programming and encourage bold voices like these to show us light in difficult times."

For 26 years, New York's National Arts Club has annually highlighted the work of playwrights who show exceptional promise through the Kesselring Prize. Named in honor of beloved playwright and National Arts Club member Joseph Kesselring, author of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, the Kesselring Prize was first presented by The National Arts Club in 1980, funded by Mr. Kesselring's widow, the late Charlotte Kesselring, and had a mission to highlight the work of emerging playwrights who had not yet received prominent national attention. Previous winners have included Mark Schultz, David Auburn, Melissa James Gibson, Tony Kushner, Nicky Silver, Anna Deavere Smith, David Lindsay-Abaire, Jose Rivera, Heather McDonald, Philip Kan Gotanda, Kira Obolensky, Tracey Scott Wilson, and Marion McClinton. In 2005, The Kesselring Fund was enhanced with a significant contribution by the estate of club member Dr. Paul F. Cranefield Jr..

In 2007, The National Arts Club invited The Exchange and its development center, The Orchard Project, to collaborate in redefining the award to ensure its legacy and maximize the support it provided to NYC playwrights. The new Kesselring Fellowship is committed to generating new work, further ensuring that outstanding playwrights are provided with the tools and support to keep working in NY theatre and contribute to the cultural life of the city.

The Kesselring Fellow receives a large honorarium and additional development support for a project of their chosing, in addition to a committed residency and workshop at the Orchard Project in upstate NY. The tenure of the Fellow will be marked by a reading of a play of their choice at the start of the fellowship and a reading of the new play at the end of the year. The Fellow can also use the year and resources to work on another commission. The three Kesselring Honorees are each presented with an honorarium, a presented reading of a play of their choice, and the opportunity to develop work with The Exchange and the Orchard Project over the course of the following year. All four playwrights will also be included in other literary and artistic events at the National Arts Club over the course of the year. In total, the Kesselring Fellow receives $7500 of direct support and $14,000 of indirect support through development, and each Honoree receives $1500 in direct support and an additional $2000 in indirect support through development.

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