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Philip Seymour Hoffman award gives new playwright $45K and coast-to-coast exposure

Written by
David Cote

In life, Philip Seymour Hoffman was not just a volcanic movie star; he was a constant man of the theater. Through the Labyrinth Theater Company, the Public and other groups, he directed plays, acted in them and nurtured new stage talent. Now his influence extends past his death—it will be one year come Monday—with the announcement of the Relentless Award, billed as “the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play.”

If you’re an unproduced playwright, here’s what you need to know: Deadline to submit to the American Playwriting Foundation (APF) is July 10. Three finalists and one winner will be announced on October 2. The winner gets $45,000 and an unprecedented series of readings around the country: at the American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco; Asolo Repertory Theater; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; The Goodman Theatre in Chicago; Boston’s Huntington Theatre; the Wilma in Philadelphia; Milwaukee Repertory Theater; the New Group here in New York; and Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.

Who judges the finalists and winner? It’s an interesting mix of veterans and younger writers, diverse in every way: Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, APF Executive Director David Bar Katz, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, John Patrick Shanley, Jonathan Marc Sherman and Lucy Thurber. They’re looking for new plays that are—as Hoffman was—“relentlessly truthful,” but here’s the fine print you should note: “[T]he committee will place a special emphasis on works from first-time playwrights and underrepresented voices.”

So: Are you green and underrepresented? Have at it. See how relentless you can be.

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