The Kennedy Center recently awarded the 1999 Fund Awards for New American Plays to ten playwrights and six theatre across the country. Among the recipients are Corey Fischer for See Under: Love (A Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco), Melinda Lopez for The Order of Things (Centastage, Boston), Yehuda Hyman for The Mad Dancers (San Diego Repertory Theatre), Horton Foote for The Last of the Thortons (Signature Theatre, New York), Caleen Sinnette Jennings for Inns and Outs (Source Theatre Company, Washington, DC) and Howard Korder for The Hollow Lands (South Coast Reperotry, Costa Mesa, CA).
The Fund Award grants from $30,000-$10,000 to the not-for-profit theatre producing the work, with $10,000 going to the playwright.
Foote, last represented on Broadway with the Pulitzer-Prize winner The Young Man from Atlanta, received Academy Awards for Best Screenplay for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies." Once represented by an entire season at New York's Signature, Foote will contribute The Last of the Thortons, the story of Alberta Thorton, the last surviving member of a powerful clan, to that theatre's 2000 retrospective of the playwrights represented in its last ten seasons.
Lopez, whose Order of Things is comic fable of a Cuban family seeking order from Castro, America and mathematics, will also be the first recipient of the Charlotte Woolard Award. It's an honorary prize named for longtime Kennedy Center Director of Protocol and Board Secretary Woolard, who died in 1999.
Four playwrights were awarded the Roger L. Stevens Award. Christopher Cartmill (Romeo's Dream), Jeffrey L. Chastang (Full Circle), Catherine Filloux (Eyes of the Heart) and S.M. Shephard-Massat (Waiting to Be Invited) won the prize, which carries a $2,500 award. Since 1986, the Kennedy Center Fund has awarded more than $3.2 million in grants to 86 playwrights and 46 not-for-profit U.S. theatres. Previous recipients included David Henry Hwang's Golden Child, Tony Kushner's Angels In America, Robert Schenkkan's The Kentucky Cycle and Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles.
Judges on this year's panel included Libby Appel (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Andre Bishop (Lincoln Center Theatre), Michael David (producer, Dodgers-Endemol), Gordon Davidson (Mark Taper Forum), Gerald Freedman, David Hawkanson (Guthrie Theatre, MN), Kenny Leon (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta), Emily Mann (McCarter Theatre, NJ), Mel Shapiro and Robert Whitehead.
-- By Christine Ehren and David Lefkowitz