Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Donja R. Love, Diana Oh, and More Are 2020 Helen Merrill Award Winners | Playbill

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Awards Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Donja R. Love, Diana Oh, and More Are 2020 Helen Merrill Award Winners Kimber Lee, Mona Mansour, and Sung Rno are also recipients of the $25,000 prize from The New York Community Trust.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays in <i>Where We Stand</i>
Donnetta Lavinia Grays in Where We Stand Joan Marcus

Playwrights Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Kimber Lee, Donja R. Love, Mona Mansour, Diana Oh, and Sung Rno are the 2020 winners of The New York Community Trust’s Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting. The award, which is named after the late theatrical agent Helen Merrill, comes with a no-strings-attached $25,000 prize.

The six writers, many of whom are multi-disciplinary, were selected by an advisory committee comprised of leaders in the American theatre. This year they were Lisa McNulty, Ralph Peña, Niegel Smith, Lloyd Suh, and Stephanie Ybarra.

Diana Oh
Diana Oh Haley Varacallo

Grays' plays include Where We Stand, a monologue play which she performed Off-Broadway and at Baltimore Center Stage; as well as Warriors Don’t Cry, Last Night and the Night Before, Laid to Rest, and The Review.

Lee's work includes untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play, seen at last year's O’Neill Playwrights Conference, tokyo fish story, and brownsville song (b-side for tray), seen Off-Broadway.

Love's plays include one in two, Fireflies, and Sugar in Our Wounds, all seen Off-Broadway. His play one in two was recently live streamed on Playbill as part of Pride Plays.

READ: Donja R. Love’s one in two Is the Urgent, Black, Queer Play for This Moment

Mansour’s The Vagrant Trilogy was set to make its New York debut in March at the Public Theater, where she is an EWG alum, but was halted due to theatre closures in the wake of the public health crisis. Her play We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War is scheduled to debut at Geva Theatre in April 2021.

Oh's works include The Infinite Love Party, {my lingerie play}, and My H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theatre, which is currently being presented via Zoom by Ma-Yi Theater Company (where Oh is a Writers Lab member), Aye Defy and HowlRound. Learn more here.

Founder of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, Rno's plays include wAve, Drizzle and Other Stories, Cleveland Raining, Gravity Falls From Trees, Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen, and the musical Galois written with composer Aaron Jones.

Rno, Oh, and Love are past recipients of Van Lier Fellowships, which is also awarded by The Trust. For more information on its charitable funds, visit

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