Michael R. Jackson, whose musical A Strange Loop will be seen at Playwrights Horizons this spring, and Lauren Yee, whose music-filled Cambodian Rock Band will soon be seen in Chicago, have been named the winners of the 2019 Whiting Award in the Drama category.
The award is given annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, with each recipient awarded $50,000.
Jackson is a 2017 Jonathan Larson Award and 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award winner. He wrote lyrics and co-wrote the book for the musical adaptation of the horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs; and he wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl in Danger and the upcoming A Strange Loop.
A Strange Loop explores the thoughts of Usher, a Black, queer writer working a job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a Black, queer composer working a job he hates while writing his original musical. Co-presented in association with Page 73, performances will run May 24–July 7 at Playwrights.
Yee is the winner of the Kesselring Prize and the Francesca Primus Prize. Her recent plays include The Great Leap—seen Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company—and Cambodian Rock Band, which was nominated for the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and will begin performances at Chicago's Victory Gardens in April.
Cambodian Rock Band, which debuted at South Coast Repertory last year, is a rock music–filled piece about a Cambodian-American woman and her father—a guitarist who was imprisoned under the Khmer Rouge.
The Whiting Award was established in 1985 by the Whiting Foundation. The awards are based on early accomplishment and the promise of great work to come. Last year's Drama winners were Antoinette Nwandu, Hansol Jung, and Nathan Alan Davis.
For more information visit Whiting.org.