The Dramatists Guild Foundation has named a recipient of its annual Stephen Schwartz Award, as well as, for the first time, multiple honorees for its Thom Thomas Award.
Former DGF Fellow Khiyon Hursey receives the former; watch Schwartz himself make the announcement above. Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Julia Meinwald, and Benjamin Velez—each alums of the fellowship program as well—share the Thom Thomas honor; inaugural recipient Chisa Hutchinson introduces them in the video below.
Both awards come with a no-strings-attached grant. “Which, in these super weird times, could be used any number of ways,” says Hutchinson. “Rent, medical expenses, bail, all of that.” The two awards are usually distributed as $10,000 grants, but as three artists receive this year’s Thom Thomas Award, they'll each get $4,000.
Hursey previously served as the music assistant on Hamilton; he also wrote for Netflix’s Soundtrack and is currently at work on the movie musical Love in America.
Chicago native Dickerson-Despenza is a Blk, queer poet-turned-playwright, currently under commission at Off-Broadway’s The Public Theater. Her works include cullud wattah and the in-development, 10-play Katrina Cycle, which includes shadow/land and [hieroglyph].
Meinwald is a musical theatre and opera composer whose credits include Pregnancy Pact, REB + VoDKa + Me, and The Loneliest Girl in the World with frequent collaborator Gordon Leary and Elevator Heart with Sara Cooper and Amy Burgess. Her shows often explore points of view different to her own through a decidedly empathetic lens.
Composer-lyricist Velez wrote Kiss My Aztec, which played Berkeley Rep and La Jolla Playhouse last year, with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp. His Starblasters musical will be developed at Manhattan School of Music in 2021.