The Kesselring awards, presented by the National Arts Club, support the work of playwrights who have yet to achieve national recognition.
Founded in 1980 by the late Charlotte Kesselring — the widow of Arsenic and Old Lace playwright Joseph Kesselring —previous winners include 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 contribution by the estate of Dr. Paul F. Cranefield Jr.
In a statement Ari Edelson, artistic director of the Kesselring panel, said, "For years the National Arts Club has been a stalwart supporter of the arts in NY, and we could not be more honored to present these awards to four of the city's most exciting playwrights. By supporting these playwrights, the Club has taken a bold step in allowing these writers to define their future work and take risks that would otherwise prove impossible, and the Exchange is excited to work with the Club in supporting their work."
O. Aldon James, Jr., president of the National Arts Club, added, "The Club is so excited to relaunch and redefine the Kesselring Award, which in turn will strengthen its mission to assist playwrights. We are confident this new fellowship will involve many people from the theatre industry in the life of the Club and communicate our commitment to supporting new art in New York."
The Kesselring Fellow, according to press notes, "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 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. . . . In total, the Kesselring Fellow receives $7,000 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." Jordan Harrison's plays include Doris to Darlene, which will begin performances at Playwrights Horizons Nov. 16; Act a Lady, Finn in the Underworld, The Museum Play, Kid-Simple and Amazons And Their Men.
Will Eno's work includes Thom Pain (based on nothing), a Pulitzer Prize finalist; Intermission; Tragedy: a tragedy; and Oh, the Humanity . . . And Other Good Intentions, which is currently playing the Flea Theatre.
Rinne Groff's plays and musicals include In the Bubble, What Then, The Ruby Sunrise, Inky, Jimmy Carter Was a Democrat, The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem and Orange Lemon Egg Canary. Playwrights Horizons will present her new musical Saved in 2008.
A poet-playwright who teaches playwriting at Columbia University and University of San Francisco, Marcus Gardley's plays include Love Is a Dream House in Lorin, dance of the holy ghost, (L)imitations of Life. His newest plays include And Jesus moonwalks the Mississippi and the road weeps.