The Denver Center Theatre Company and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation chose Blur by Melanie Marnich as the 1999 winner of the Francesca Primus Playwriting Prize.
Blur chronicles a young woman's desire to see herself more clearly, even as her eyesight fails her. Her need for independence and self-assertion challenges her close relationships.
Judges embraced Marnich's "quirky, elliptical style that lends a captivating and poetic dimension to her play."
Marnich's plays include Blue, Quake, Beautiful Again and Season. She won two Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards, two Jerome Fellowships, the New Women Playwrights Award, inclusion in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and an Individual Artists Grant from the Ohio Arts Council. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and recently completed her master's in playwriting at the University of California, San Diego.
The Francesca Primus Prize, now in its third year, targets women playwrights. The prize is administered by Denver Center Theatre Company and funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation. It is named in memory of Primus, who was a longtime theatre critic and columnist for Back Stage. Plays are evaluated by a panel of judges that includes journalists, writers and theatre professionals. The winning playwright receives $3,000, a residency and a rehearsed reading of the play as part of the Denver Center Theatre Company's US WEST TheatreFest, an annual reading of new plays to be held this year from June 1-4.
The Theatre Company also retains the option of presenting a full staging of the winning script as part of its regular production season.
Previous Primus winners include Tatjana In Color by Julia Jordan, a metaphoric piece loosely based on events in the life of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, and Wonderland by Brooke Berman, a wacky satire of contemporary life in celebrity-crazed New York and Hollywood.
Submissions for the 2000 Francesca Primus Prize are currently being accepted. Interested playwrights should write for guidelines to: The Francesca Primus Prize, Bruce K. Sevy, Associate Artistic Director New Play Development Denver Center Theatre Company, 1050 13th Street, Denver, CO 80204.
-- By Kenneth Jones