Philadelphia-based playwright and actor James Ijames is the recipient of The National Arts Club's 38th Kesselring Prize, an award of $25,000 given annually to a rising American playwright. The award also provides Ijames with the opportunity to reside in the National Arts Club’s clubhouse in New York City, where he can develop his work.
Ijames was awarded the prestigious prize for Kill Move Paradise, a play about four black men stuck in a cosmic waiting room in the after life, inspired by the growing number of slain unarmed black men and women in America today. The play was nominated for the Kesselring by the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.
Ijames’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, The National Black Theatre, Alley Theatre, and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwrights Horizons, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, The Gulfshore Playhouse, Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre, and Victory Garden. He is a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrence McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ....Miz Martha, and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award.
As an actor, Ijames has appeared regionally in productions at The Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, The Wilma Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Mauckingbird Theatre Company, and People’s Light and Theatre.
Ijames will receive the award at a ceremony at The National Arts Club in New York City November 5.
The 2018 Kesselring Prize jury is comprised of playwright John Guare; Anne Cattaneo, dramaturg of Lincoln Center Theater and creator/head of its Directors’ Lab; and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. The Kesselring Prize’s long-time artistic director is Michael Parva, who also heads The Directors Company in New York City.