Samuel French will honor some of the theatre community’s most respected artists, activists and rising stars on Monday, October 24 when they bestow the Samuel French Awards in a private reception. This year’s recipients include Tony nominated and Pulitzer Prize finalist playwright Sarah Ruhl (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; Stage Kiss); playwright and artistic director of The New Black Fest, Keith Josef Adkins (Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege; Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments); award winning musical theatre writers Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond (Judge Jackie Justice, Disorder in the Court; Dani Girl).
In addition to the awards presentation, the evening will feature live performances by Tony Award winner Laura Benanti (She Loves Me, Gypsy) with Lortel nominated songwriter Todd Almond (Melancholy Play: a chamber musical; Iowa), Tony nominee Kathleen Chalfant (Wit, Angels in America), actor and playwright Matt Shingledecker (West Side Story, Spring Awakening), Dennis A. Allen (The Mud Is Thicker In Mississippi), MaameYaa Boafo (UN-TAMED: Hair Body Attitude), and Michael Kooman.
Sarah Ruhl will receive the Award for Sustained Excellence in American Theatre, bestowed upon a Samuel French playwright, composer or lyricist whose body of work has been successfully produced across the nation, at both amateur and professional levels. Along with the award, a donation will be made to Piven Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre, two regional theaters that strongly influenced and affected Ruhl’s career.
“I am overjoyed to be the recipient of this unique award that recognizes the impact that artistic homes have on the life cycle of the playwright,” says Sarah Ruhl. “I am so grateful to have had artistic continuity at Yale Repertory Theatre and at the Piven Theatre Workshop; their support over time has allowed me to write with some sense of duration, and to experiment. Both institutions have given me such courage and love, and I’m forever grateful to them, and to Samuel French, for recognizing their remarkable impact.”
Keith Josef Adkins of The New Black Fest will receive the Award for Impact & Activism in the Theatre Community, given to an individual who has significantly impacted the theatre community through activism in the past year. Along with the award, a donation will be made to The New Black Fest.
Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond will receive The Next Step Award, an award which celebrates and supports playwrights, composers or lyricists toward the next step of their career. The award recognizes artists who have demonstrated strong energy and talent in their career thus far, and offers support for a current or shelved project.
“Samuel French proudly celebrates all those who make theatre happen,” says Samuel French’s President, Nate Collins. “Continuing in that spirit, we are thrilled to honor Sarah, Keith, Michael and Chris with this year’s Samuel French Awards. These awards were created to acknowledge the great work and unparalleled passion of these theatre artists, as well as applaud their significant contributions to our industry. Bravo to this year’s honorees. We celebrate you and look forward to your future works.”