Each year, a distinguished playwright selects a new work by an emerging playwright as the recipient of the Yale Drama Series Award, which includes the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, as well as publication of the winning play by Yale University Press. The play will also receive a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater's Claire Tow Theater.
Playwright Nicholas Wright selected Schwend’s play. Here’s how it’s billed: “In Utility, Amber has two jobs, three kids and an eight-year-old's birthday party to plan. The house needs fixing up and her on-again, off-again husband, Chris just can't help but make things worse. As Amber struggles to keep things from boiling over, she finds herself a stranger to the person she once was and the person she thought she might be.”
“Utility is a remarkable play: beautifully written and effortlessly powerful,” Wright said in a statement. “At every moment the happiness of human lives is put at risk: is there any greater dramatic theme? We believe in every step that the characters take and we hold our breath at their efforts to build a stable, solvent home for their children. Their offstage lives, their places of work, their automobiles and their friendships are as vivid as anything that we see on stage. We found it a joy to share their story."
Schwend commented, “I am honored to add my name to the list of talented and daring playwrights who have won the Yale Drama Series award, a list full of stories by and about women. When I started writing Utility, I wanted to show how small setbacks are not so small when there is absolutely no room for error in one's life. And how, for Amber, whose life has become almost entirely composed of endless chores, mounting frustrations, and daily crises, the value of truly being seen by another person is a rare, altruistic gift. I am so pleased that Utility was chosen for this award, which will help this story – and Amber – continue to be seen.”
This year’s runners-up are Sarah DeLappe for The Wolves and Nina Segal for In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises).
Previous winners of the Yale Drama Series Prize include John Austin Connolly (selected by Edward Albee in 2007), Neil Wechsler (selected by Edward Albee in 2008), Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (selected by David Hare in 2009), Virginia Grise (selected by David Hare in 2010), Shannon Murdoch (selected by John Guare in 2011), Clarence Coo (selected by John Guare in 2012), Jen Silverman (selected by Marsha Norman in 2013), Janine Nabers (selected by Marsha Norman in 2014), Barbara Seyda (selected by Nicholas Wright in 2015).