Royalties from the estate of late Tony-winning Hairspray co-librettist Mark O’Donnell, who died in 2012 at the age of 58, will be donated in perpetuity to The Actors Fund, the non-profit human services organization that assists members of the arts and entertainment industry.
Mr. O’Donnell’s brother Stephen announced the news September 12.
The Actors Fund has also announced plans to launch The Mark O’Donnell Prize, which will be given annually to emerging theatre artists who show talent and promise. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize and is open to writers, composers, directors, and designers. Playwrights Horizons will co-administer the honor.
The inaugural recipient will be announced at a private October 25 ceremony at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Downtown Brooklyn, a state-of-the-art black box theatre and arts hub, which is being renamed The Mark O’Donnell Theatre in his honor.
“My twin brother was a lovable oddball,” said Steve O’Donnell in a statement. “A kindly, brilliant and massively talented artist who could be both silly and serious, hilarious and moving.”
“We’re humbled by this very generous gift—a fitting tribute to Mark’s brilliant talent,” added Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of The Actors Fund. “Mark’s legacy will help to fund not only ongoing programs for those in need, crisis or transition in performing arts, but also support a new generation of creative artists.”
“We are excited to honor Mark O’Donnell’s legacy and talent through this wonderful, generous award,” said Tim Sanford, artistic director of Playwrights Horizons. “Mark was a brilliant, affable, and idiosyncratic writer who was deeply proud of his relationship with Playwrights Horizons. I’m sure he would be amazed and delighted to be held up as both a beacon of inspiration and a font of material support for other unusual, visionary theater artists whose work may fall off the grid of aesthetic normalcy. Uncategorizable theater makers like Mark and the artists his award will support are important, splendid examples of the mysterious ecology of voices that give our artistic community its humane texture.”