The 2016 recipients of the biennial Horton Foote Prize, named in honor of the late playwright, to recognize excellence in American theatre, have been announced. The 2016 Prize for Outstanding New American Play is awarded to Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison. The 2016 Prize for Promising New American Play is awarded to The Profane by Zayd Dohrn.
Their achievements will be celebrated at a private reception October 24 at The Lotos Club in New York City. Harrison and Dohrn will each be presented with $20,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Mr. Foote, which is found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. This year’s Prize marks the centenary of the birth of Pulitzer Prize-winning Foote, whose works include The Trip to Bountiful, The Orphan’s Home Cycle and The Young Man from Atlanta.
The four judges of the 2016 Horton Foote Prize were Academy Award nominee and Tony-winning actress Stockard Channing, serving as Chair; Vineyard Theatre artistic director Sarah Stern; award-winning playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer (Leveling Up, Informed Consent, End Games); and Los Angeles-based director and producer Victor Maog.
On behalf of her fellow judges, Channing said, “The two plays we have recognized with this prestigious award share something essential with its namesake, which is a deeply compassionate examination of the human condition. Marjorie Prime and The Profane echo Horton Foote’s interest in the challenges, disappointments, loss, and grief that we all face in life – all the challenges and sorrows that come at you, as Horton Foote once said. Each in his distinctive voice, Mr. Harrison and Mr. Dohrn have created altogether contemporary works that resonate with those of Horton Foote – and with the world we live in today.”
Harrison and Dohrn were nominated by Center Theatre Group and Playwrights Horizons, respectively.
A 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Marjorie Prime had its world premiere with Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in September 2014, receiving its New York premiere with Playwrights Horizons in November 2015. In Marjorie Prime, according to press notes, “it’s the age of artificial intelligence, and 85-year-old Marjorie—a jumble of disparate, fading memories—has a handsome new companion who’s programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. What would we remember and what would we forget if given the chance? In this richly spare, wondrous play, Marjorie Prime explores the mysteries of human identity and the limits—if any—of what technology can replace.”
The world premiere of The Profane at Playwrights Horizons will begin previews March 17, 2017, with opening night set for April 9 at Playwrights Horizons’ Peter Jay Sharp Theater. In Dohrn’s new play, “Raif Almedin is a first-generation immigrant who prides himself on his modern, enlightened views. But when his daughter falls for the son of a conservative Muslim family, he discovers the threshold of his tolerance. In this sharp and timely tale, two families are forced to confront each other’s religious beliefs and cultural traditions, and to face their own deep-seated prejudice.”
Previous recipients of the Horton Foote Prize include Lynn Nottage for Ruined, Will Eno for Middletown, David Lindsay-Abaire for Good People, Naomi Wallace for The Liquid Plain, Dan O’Brien for The Body of an American and Suzan-Lori Parks for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3).