The Vermeer Room, Brad Rosenstein's examination of Dutch art dealer Han van Meegeren, accused of Nazi collaboration in 1945, won the 2000 National Play Award Dec. 11 at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles' Bing Theatre.
Rosenstein, whose award includes a $5,000 cash prize, beat out Storm in the Iron Box by Adam Kraar, The Duke's Development by Lou Mathews, No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs by John Henry Redwood (The Old Settler) and Model Citizens by Prince Gomolivas. The runner-ups receive $500 each.
The Vermeer Room begins with the arrest of Meegeren after an unknown Vermeer, "Christ and the Adultress," is found in Hermann Goring's collection. The sale is traced to Meegeren, who, while convicted of selling a national treasure to the enemy and facing death, uses his interrogation to tell his life story, refusing to give any details about the painting.
Rosenstein is the author of Lebensraum, Players and Mandala. He currently writes theatre criticism for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Besides announcing the winner, the evening also featured a presentation of 1999's winner, In Walks Mem'ry by Eric C. Waldemar, Jr. In Mem'ry, an African-American woman named Zoey comes home after 15 years in prison. Her brother Jess, to whom she hasn't spoken in over 20 years, agrees to take her on a trip back to her childhood, but instead confronts her with the painful truth that in their youth, she wanted nothing more than to be white. The National Repertory Theatre Foundation is on the web at http://www.nrtf.org.
— By Christine Ehren