Playwright Brooke Berman has won the Francesa Primus Playwriting Prize for the second time in three years, the prize's co-sponsors, Denver Center Theatre Company and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation announced.
Berman receives the 2000 Primus Prize for Playing House, called "a bittersweet, humorous piece about the unmoored generation searching for values and relationships in all the wrong places, by all the wrong means."
Berman is a New York-based writer and performer who previously won the 1998 Primus Prize for Wonderland, her satire of life in the fast lane in New York and Hollywood (not be confused with plays of the same title by Chay Yew and Julie Dahl). She is a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab.
Most recently, Berman was one of three recipients of the Helen Merrill Award, which recognizes aspiring and established playwrights. Her 10 minute play, Dancing with a Devil, was the winner of the 1999 Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville and was presented as part of the 1999 Humana Festival.
In Wonderland, according to the prize announcement, "David, Cory and June share a loft, a life and even a marriage in Brooklyn, [but] their day-to-day existence is mostly clueless, aimless and mired in gender bending confusion. Their slightly desperate pursuit of happiness is littered with paradox, psychic healers and possible dreams that they may not really want fulfilled, because discomfort has become a comfort in itself. The playwright's demonstrable skill lies in uncompromising yet understated dialogue that reveals all by saying less." The Francesca Primus Playwriting Prize, funded by the Foundation, is named in memory of Primus who, for many years, was a theatre critic and columnist for Back Stage. It offers women the opportunity to have their plays 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 U S WEST TheatreFest, an annual reading of new plays. 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 and Blur by Melanie Marnich.
Submissions for the 2001 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