Broadway and film star Jeremy Irons announced the second annual Theater Masters’ Visionary Award winners on Thursday, May 14th. at a press reception. The 2009 Visionary Award Winners are Maria Alexandria Beech and Zayd Dohrn with New York’s Primary Stages and The Dallas Theater Center as respective sponsoring theaters.
Winning playwrights are invited to attend Aspen Institute’s noted “Aspen Ideas Festival,” and are jointly commissioned by the nominating theatre and Theater Masters to write a full-length play that embraces timeless values and powerful issues.
Based in Aspen, Colorado, Theater Masters is a non-profit organization whose core mission is to seek and nurture the next generation of artists for the American Theatre and present their work. “Along with some of the country’s finest regional theatre artistic directors, we are identifying remarkable writers who are some of the finest young playwrights in this country and encouraging them to write a new play inspirited by attendance at the Aspen Ideas Festival ,” said Julia Hansen, Theater Masters founder and Artistic Director – and former President of New York’s Drama League. “In many ways how I started the Drama League’s “Director’s Project” is how I am now fostering new playwrights — by discovering new playwrights with sponsoring theaters and guaranteeing the writers that their work will be seen.”
Maria Alexandria Beech majored in Literature Writing at Columbia, where she completed an MFA in playwriting in 2007 as a recipient of the Williams Foundation Fellowship and the Dean’s Fellowship. She has had many of plays produced and performed in New York, including Breaking Walls (The Cherry Lane Theatre, Cherry Pit Late Nite Series), The Soft Room (Culture Project’s Impact Festival), Designer X, Your Face, and Bat In Iraq (presented by Blue Box Productions at Sticky at Blue), The Inventor Of Manatees (Flea Theatre as part of Stupid Plays). Her Spanish translation of The Cook, by Eduardo Machado, premiered at The Stages Theatre in Houston. In 2006 and 2007, Lima Beans, Breaking Walls, and Black Roses were semi-finalists in the Cherry Lane Mentor Project. Alex is a member of INTAR’s Hispanic Playwright in Residence Laboratory where she recently completed Gloria, which will receive two staged readings in Caracas, Venezuela in November. She is also a member of The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages Theatre in New York, where her play, Saving The Lives of Strangers, has been performed in two staged readings. In addition, a new version of Breaking Walls will be presented in a reading at Primary Stages in the spring, and Los Animales will be presented at the One Minute Play Festival in October.
Zayd Dohrn received his MFA from NYU and is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard. His plays have been produced and developed at The Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Marin Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, The Alliance, Kitchen Dog, Magic Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, American Theater Company, Southern Rep, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, and New Jersey Rep. He is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Prize, the Sky Cooper Prize, the Jean Kennedy Smith Award, an IRNE for Best New Play, and residencies with Ars Nova, Chautauqua, and The Royal Court Theatre of London.
In 2008, Theater Masters initiated the Visionary Playwrights Award, in partnership with the Aspen Institute and three of America’s top regional theaters: Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, La Jolla Playhouse in California, and Playwrights Horizons in NYC. .
Theater Masters Advisory Board includes: Chris Ashley, Alec Baldwin, Andre Bishop, Gordon Davidson, Scott Ellis, A.R. Gurney , Doug Hughes, Judy Kaye, Andrew Leynse, Samuel Liff, John Lithgow, Robert Moss, Brian Murray, Jack O’Brien, Neil Pepe and John Rando.