Monday, November 12, 2007

Ringing in the Kesselring


November 12th, 2007 - The National Arts Club announces the recipients of its relaunched Kesselring Fellowship (formerly the Kesselring Award) supporting the work of extraordinary playwrights who have yet to achieve national recognition. An industry panel of writers, literary managers, actors, producers and directors and critics chose Jordan Harrison to receive the Kesselring Fellowship, and playwrights Will Eno, Rinne Groff and Marcus Gardley to receive Kesselring Honors.

Ari Edelson, Artistic Director of the Kesselring Panel, stated, "For years the National Arts Club has been a stalwart supporter of the arts in NY, and we could not be more honored to present these awards to four of the city’s most exciting playwrights. By supporting these playwrights, the Club has taken a bold step in allowing these writers to define their future work and take risks that would otherwise prove impossible, and the Exchange is excited to work with the Club in supporting their work."

"The Club is so excited to relaunch and redefine the Kesselring Award, which in turn will strengthen its mission to assist playwrights," said O. Aldon James, Jr., President of the National Arts Club. We are confident this new fellowship will involve many people from the theatre industry in the life of the Club and communicate our commitment to supporting new art in New York."

For 26 years, New York's National Arts Club has annually highlighted the work of playwrights who show exceptional promise through the Kesselring Prize. Named in honor of beloved playwright and National Arts Club member Joseph Kesselring, author of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, the Kesselring Prize was first presented by The National Arts Club in 1980, funded by Mr. Kesselring's widow, the late Charlotte Kesselring, and had a mission to highlight the work of emerging playwrights who had not yet received prominent national attention. Previous winners have included Mark Schultz, David Auburn, Melissa James Gibson, Tony Kushner, Nicky Silver, Anna Deavere Smith, David Lindsay-Abaire, Jose Rivera, Heather McDonald, Philip Kan Gotanda, Kira Obolensky, Tracey Scott Wilson, and Marion McClinton. In 2005, The Kesselring Fund was enhanced with a significant contribution by the estate of club member Dr. Paul F. Cranefield Jr..

In 2007, The National Arts Club invited The Exchange and its development center, The Orchard Project, to collaborate in redefining the award to ensure its legacy and maximize the support it provided to NYC playwrights. The new Kesselring Fellowship is committed to generating new work, further ensuring that outstanding playwrights are provided with the tools and support to keep working in NY theatre and contribute to the cultural life of the city.

The Kesselring Fellow receives a large honorarium and additional development support for a project of their chosing, in addition to a committed residency and workshop at the Orchard Project in upstate NY. The tenure of the Fellow will be marked by a reading of a play of their choice at the start of the fellowship and a reading of the new play at the end of the year. The Fellow can also use the year and resources to work on another commission. The three Kesselring Honorees are each presented with an honorarium, a presented reading of a play of their choice, and the opportunity to develop work with The Exchange and the Orchard Project over the course of the following year. All four playwrights will also be included in other literary and artistic events at the National Arts Club over the course of the year. In total, the Kesselring Fellow receives $7000 of direct support and $14,000 of indirect support through development, and each Honoree receives $1500 in direct support and an additional $2000 in indirect support through development.

Jordan Harrison’s plays include Doris To Darlene (Playwrights Horizons); Act A Lady (2006 Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Portland Center Stage); Finn In The Underworld (Berkeley Repertory Theatre); The Museum Play (Washington Ensemble Theatre); Kid-Simple (2004 Humana Festival, American Theater Company, Summer Play Festival); and Amazons And Their Men (forthcoming at Clubbed Thumb). He is the recipient of the Heideman Award, two Jerome Fellowships and a McKnight Grant from The Playwrights’ Center, and a NEA/TCG Playwright-in-Residence Grant. Jordan has written commissions for Arden Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater/CTC, and South Coast Repertory. A graduate of the Brown MFA Playwriting program, he is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.

Will is a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the Edward F. Albee Foundation. His play THOM PAIN (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. His play INTERMISSION premiered at the Ensemble Studio Theatre's One-Act Marathon in June 2006. An excerpt of his play TRAGEDY: a tragedy appeared in the June 2006 issue of HARPER's Magazine. Will was at Princeton University in 2006, as a Hodder Fellow. In the past year, he was a Fellow of the Cullman Center of the NY Public Library. His plays are published by Oberon Books, TCG, and PLAYSCRIPTS. His newest play OH, THE HUMANITY... AND OTHER GOOD INTENTIONS opens November 29th at The Flea and stars Marisa Tomei.

Rinne Groff’s plays and musicals including In the Bubble, What Then, The Ruby Sunrise, Inky, Jimmy Carter was a Democrat, The Five Hysterical Girls Theorem, and Orange Lemon Egg Canary have been produced by the Public Theater, Trinity Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Women’s Project, PS122, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, and Andy's Summer Playhouse, among others. She is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Obie Award grant. Associate Teacher at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Founding member of Elevator Repair Service Theater Company. New Dramatists, Dramatists Guild. Upcoming: Saved, a new musical at Playwrights Horizons.

Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who teaches Playwriting at Columbia University and University of San Francisco. His most recent play Love is a Dream House in Lorin was nominated for the National Critics Steinberg New Play Award. He has had six plays produced including: dance of the holy ghost at Yale Repertory Theatre and (L)imitations of Life, at the Empty Space. He is the recipient of the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Grant, a NEA/TCG Playwriting Participant Residency, the Eugene O’ Neil Memorial Scholarship and the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. This Fall, his new play And Jesus moonwalks the Mississippi will be work-shopped by the Sundance Institute at the Public Theatre and a production at Brown University. His other new play, the road weeps, the well runs dry will be work-shopped at the Lark Play Development Center.

Established in 1898, The National Arts Club was the first private club in Manhattan to include women in its membership. In addition to the Kesselring Prize, the National Arts Club confers Medals of Honor in all the arts categories, given to individuals and/or organizations for their lifetime contributions. The National Arts Club also awards scholarships to young artists, and has an outreach program for high schools. O. Aldon James, Jr., President of The National Arts Club, and Dianne Bernhard, the first Vice-President of The National Arts Club, are Co-Chairmen of the Club’s Kesselring Committee. For information about The National Arts Club and its programs, call 212-475-3424.

The Exchange is a NYC theatre company committed to producing the classics of today and tomorrow and redefining the way new theatre is created. In 2007, the board of the famed Jean Cocteau Rep invited Ari Edelson to relaunch the company with this new mission, for which he serves as Artistic Director. In partnership with the Catskill Mountain Foundation, The Exchange also runs the Orchard Project, the nation's only development center focused on the work of companies and innovative leading artists from the US and abroad. For more information, please visit or

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