Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews' Witness Uganda Wins 2012 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater

By Michael Gioia
February 10, 2012

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced that Witness Uganda, a new musical by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, is the winner of the 2012 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater.



Witness Uganda was also awarded a staged reading. The intent of the Richard Rodgers Award is to nurture talented composers and playwrights by enabling their musicals to be produced in New York City.

The 2012 jury included chair Stephen Sondheim, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, David Ives, Richard Maltby, Jr., Jeanine Tesori and John Weidman.

Here's how Witness Uganda is billed: "Griffin, a black American volunteer, arrives from New York City to help build a village school and escape his church’s probing into his sexuality. But when he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he becomes obsessed with a mission that will change his and their lives forever. From the beautiful rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside to a stifling apartment in New York City, from a joyous celebration of African youth to a terrifying abduction 8000 miles away, Witness Uganda documents the story of a man battling to find his place in a world full of injustice and inhumanity and explores the question 'is changing the world even possible?'"

Former award recipients include Maury Yeston, Nine; Jonathan Larson, Rent; Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, Juan Darien; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Lucky Stiff; Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, Violet; and Scott Frankel, Michael Korie and Doug Wright, Grey Gardens. Since 1980, 70 works have received Rodgers awards. Application forms for the Richard Rodgers Awards may be downloaded from www.artsandletters.org.

Witness Uganda is also the recipient of ASCAP's Dean Kay Award and Harold Adamson Award and has received a Disney/ASCAP workshop with Stephen Schwartz and a workshop at the Vineyard Arts Project. Selections from Witness Uganda will also be performed at this year's TEDx conference in New York City.

Gould is currently working on a commission for Yale Rep with playwright Carson Kreitzer on a new musical called Lempicka. He wrote and directed Free Style for LA's Reprise Theatre Company (commissioned by Jason Alexander), wrote Twilight in Manchego (Jonathan Larson Foundation Award) in the NYMF and was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons to write music for Lucy Thurber's Dillingham City, among others.

Matthews directed a reading of Lempicka for Yale Rep and New Dramatists. As an actor, he has appeared on "The Mentalist," "Suburgatory," "Weeds," "Torchwood," "90210" and "Law & Order LA," among others.

For more information, visit WitnessUganda.com.