Named in honor of late Tony Award-winning playwright Arthur Laurents (Gypsy, West Side Story, Home of the Brave, "The Way We Were") and his late partner Tom Hatcher, the annual award provides the winning playwright with a $50,000 cash prize and $100,000 in funding towards the production cost of the play's premiere, which must take place within a year of the award's announcement.
In addition to Joseph's honor, the foundation will also present a Special Citation of Excellence to playwright Lindsey Ferrentino and her play Ugly Lies the Bone, which will premiere as part of Roundabout Underground Off-Broadway in September.
Ferrentino's Citation, which comes with a $25,000 prize, is the first time the Laurents/Hatcher Award has honored a female playwright since the award was created in 2010.
"Our panel this year was knocked out by the sheer theatricality, imagination, and brilliance of Rajiv Joseph's play Guard at the Taj," said David Saint, president of The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation in a statement. "Reminiscent of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Waiting for Godot, this play deserves a great deal of attention."
Joseph's play will be directed by Tony Award winner Amy Morton (August: Osage County; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). "While the winner of the Award is Rajiv Joseph's Guards at the Taj, we were so impressed with Lindsey Ferrentino's script for Ugly Lies the Bone that we felt we needed to recognize this incredibly moving play. Therefore, in a first for our foundation, we’ve designated a special citation with a grant of $50,000 to the theatre, and a cash award of $25,000 to the playwright," Saint added.
Guards at the Taj, according to press notes, "is set in 1648 India, where two Imperial Guards watch from their post as the sun rises for the first time on the newly-completed Taj Mahal- an event that shakes their respective worlds. When they are ordered to perform an unthinkable task, the aftermath forces them to question the concept of friendship, beauty and duty, and changes them forever."
In Ugly Lies the Bone, "female soldier Jess returns from war severely burned only to find her Floridian hometown in a state of decay. With the use of virtual reality video game therapy, she desperately tries to restore her relationships, home, and all that was lost."
Jeff Talbott's play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award. The award has also honored Daniel Pearle for his play A Kid Like Jake; and Jon Kern's Modern Terrorism, or They Who Want To Kill Us and How We Learn To Love Them. A recipient was not named in 2014.