Russian Transport Writer Erika Sheffer Is Recipient of 2012 Paula Vogel Award

By Kenneth Jones
May 8, 2012

The fifth annual Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, administered by Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre, will go to emerging playwright Erika Sheffer, who penned Off-Broadway's Russian Transport.



Vineyard Theatre's artistic director Douglas Aibel and co-artistic director Sarah Stern announced the news on May 8.

The award is named for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and teacher Vogel, whose plays The Long Christmas Ride Home and How I Learned to Drive debuted at the Vineyard. The Paula Vogel Award is presented annually by The Vineyard to "an emerging playwright of exceptional promise."

The residency-based award comes with a cash prize and artistic development support over the 2012-13 season.

Sheffer's first play, Russian Transport, received its world premiere at The New Group in January 2012, directed by Scott Elliott. The play was nominated for the John Gassner Award by the Outer Critics Circle, which is presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright. Her work has been read at Naked Angels, Primary Stages, The Woodshed Collective and Personal Space Theatrics. She has performed original pieces at Upright Citizens Brigade and Dixon Place. Sheffer received a fellowship from SPACE on Ryder Farm to develop her newest play and is an alum of The Movement Theater Company's New Works/Moving Up Writers Group. Her selected acting credits include Red Light Winter, directed by Adam Rapp; Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Mark Lamos; and several productions for The Folger and The American Shakespeare Center. Sheffer holds a B.F.A. in Drama from Syracuse University.

Vogel will present the award to Sheffer on Thursday June 21 at a luncheon hosted by Linda Lavin at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan). Lavin starred in Nicky Silver's The Lyons at The Vineyard in fall 2011 and on May 1 received a 2012 Tony Award nomination for the show's Broadway transfer.

Proceeds from the luncheon benefit The Vineyard's artistic and education programs.

The Paula Vogel Playwriting Award is made possible by the Tournesol Project. Past recipients of the Paula Vogel Award include Tarell Alvin McCraney (Wig Out), Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), Kara Lee Corthron (Etched in Skin On a Sunlit Night) and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Neighbors).

When the Paula Vogel Award was established, Vogel said, "They say a person is judged by the company he or she keeps, and I am so honored by my association with the Vineyard Theatre — they are a company I always want to keep. I am doubly honored: honored by having the award in my name from The Vineyard, and honored to be blessing a new generation of rising playwrights. The Vineyard fulfills the promise of its name: in planting the seeds of new plays, we as audiences reap the harvest."

The Vineyard is dedicated to new plays and musicals. For more information, visit vineyardtheatre.org.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Emerging Artists Luncheon on June 21 at the National Arts Club, contact Veronica Bainbridge at vbainbridge@vineyardtheatre.org.