By Adam Hetrick
23 May 2012
Talbott will receive the Gassner Award, for a new American play by an emerging writer, on May 24 at the Outer Critics Awards ceremony at Sardi's in Manhattan. For the play about the clash between a gay playwright and an African-American actress he hires as his front, Talbott was the first winner of the Laurents/Hatcher Award — created by playwright-librettist Arthur Laurents and named for him and his late partner, Tom Hatcher — for an emerging American playwright addressing social issues.
The Submission, now published by Samuel French, had its world premiere in fall 2011 by Off-Broadway's MCC Theater. The Laurents-Hatcher committee awarded the sponsoring theatre $100,000 for the staging and $50,0000 for the playwright. Walter Bobbie directed a cast that included Jonathan Groff, Rutina Wesley, Will Rogers and Eddie Kaye Thomas. The Outer Critics Circle announced the Gassner Award and other honors for the 2012-13 season on May 14 prior to the May 24 ceremony.
Cast and creative team are yet to be announced for the San Francisco staging. New Conservatory bills the play, to run Nov. 2-Dec. 16, this way: "Shaleeha G'ntamobi's stirring new play about an alcoholic black mother and her card sharp son trying to get out of the projects has just been accepted into the nation's preeminent theater festival. Trouble is, Shaleeha G'ntamobi doesn't exist, except in the imagination of gay playwright Danny Larsen, who created her as a kind of affirmative-action nom-de-plume."
The Submission is part of the NCTC's Pride Season 18, which also includes the world premiere of Ed Decker and Robert Leone's Rites of Passage, a multimedia play about a gay Hindu man on the island of Bali, plus the revue The Marvelous Wonderettes; Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges' play with music Dear Harvey, about activist and politician Harvey Milk; Terrence McNally's The Lisbon Traviata; the world premiere of Tom Swift's A Marriage; James Lantz's The Bus; and Charles Busch's The Divine Sister.
For more about New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco, visit nctcsf.org.
"The idea [for The Submission] itself came out of a conversation with a friend of mine," Talbott told Playbill magazine in September 2011. "In writing it, I remembered an argument I had in grad school, and that became one of the play's first moments of conflict. It was an argument about how we talk to each other, but it was also an argument about 'If I am able to empathize with your pain — things that happened in your life because of circumstances in mine — doesn't that give me a right to tell your story?' Danny Larsen makes an ethically wobbly decision to promote his play, and my play is about the consequences of that decision."
Check out production highlights from the Off-Broadway world premiere of The Submission: