The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation announced the recipients of their 2021 Idea Awards for Theatre; three grants awarded to adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theatre, as well the visionary playwrights who have inspired and blazed trails before them. T2C talked to Bruce Ostler about his creating the trophies for The Idea Awards for the Theatre recipients and Kate Bussert who works closely with Bruce. The conversation got real and it became the conversation we should all be having.
The 2021 Idea Awards gives three 2021 Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Awards. This year the award went to Jessica Hagedorn (Dog Eaters, Felix Starro), Cherríe Moraga (The Hungry Woman, Heroes and Saints), and OyamO (I Am a Man, The Resurrection of Lady Lester). Honoring accomplished playwrights who have created significant, idea-driven works throughout their career, the Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Award is given with a $20,000 prize for each recipient. Agyeiwaa Asante and Haruna Lee are the recipients of this year’s Ollie New Play Award. The 2021 Vivace Musical Theatre Awards will be awarded to Kirsten Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Bella: An American Tall Tale), the composer/lyricist team Jay Adana and Zeniba Now, and Troy Anthony. Recognizing original work with ambitious theatrical ideas, both awards are bestowed with a $30,000 prize. Each of the five artists will also receive a unique hand-carved marble statuette.
The 2021 Idea Awards for Theatre will be presented in a virtual ceremony streaming online at The Idea Awards YouTube Channel beginning Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at 6PM EST. The free, virtual presentation ceremony will feature the winners in conversation with industry leaders of their choice, including Obie winning director Michael Greif, three-time Tony and Grammy nominated actor David Alan Grier, and Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright Keith Glover. There will also be songs from all three Vivace Award winners, and Tony nominee Daniel J. Watts (Hamilton, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) will host.
Theatrical Agent Bret Adams and his partner Dr. Paul Reisch loved the theatre with great passion. As a theatrical agent, Bret shepherded the careers of many actors, writers and directors and designers, including Phylicia Rashad, Judy Kaye, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sherman Helmsley, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Eve Arden, Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Marshall, Jayne Wyman, Andre DeShields, Kathy Bates, Susan H. Schulman, Jack Heifner, Philip McKinley and Robert Harling, among many others. After Bret and Paul’s passing, in 2006 and 2015 respectively, their eponymous foundation was created at their bequest. The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation champions visionary playwrights in their creation of expansive, illuminating, and idea-driven theatre. Embracing diversity in all its forms, The Foundation encourages artists with fresh perspectives – particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds – to create idea-driven new plays and musicals reflecting on multivalent themes including science, history, philosophy, gender, race, politics, sexual orientation, technology, religion, money, global warming, and medicine, among others. Nominations for all threeawards are accepted exclusively from The Foundation’s Board of Artistic Advisors. For more information, visit www.BretnPaulFoundation.org.
“The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation created the ‘Idea Awards for Theatre’ to encourage expansive, idea-driven artworks with inherently theatrical ways of illuminating big ideas and concepts,” says Bruce Ostler, V.P. and Board Member of The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. “This year, to address both the financial need throughout the theatre community, as well as the need for big, resonant stories, we are awarding 9 artists across our three categories: new plays, new musicals, and distinguished career. We hope these 9 writers, all of whom are diverse in form and in substance, will carry the torch back into the theatre and show us new ways of imagining.” “Jessica Hagedorn, Cherríe Moraga, and OyamO are writers who look, reach, see, and transform,” says Emily Morse, Artistic Director of New Dramatists and Advisory Board member, The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. “They have built their inspiring literary legacies by giving voice to, and shedding light on the complex lives of the people around them who do not necessarily see themselves reflected back to them from the stage or the page. They build community through their work as artists and educators, and each in their own passionate and glorious way have blazed paths for others to travel. Because they see, they invite us to also see. For their vision, humanity, and their tenacity and commitment to story-telling at its finest, and to support them as they continue their work, we honor them with Tooth of Time Awards.” “The thrilling artistry and piercing perspectives of Haruna Lee and Agyeiwaa Asante show us how the theatre canon can grow,” says Natasha Sinha, Associate Artistic Director at Playwrights Horizons and Advisory Board member, The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. “And as we look toward the next healing, incisive, and joyful era of musical storytelling, we uplift theatre luminary Kirsten Childs, as well as rising writers Troy Anthony, Jay Adana, and Zeniba Now. We’re thrilled to champion all six of these visionary artists as they create powerful new theatre that will move us forward.”
Video filmed by Magda Katz