Saturday, November 13, 2010

TDF and the Wendy Wasserstein Prize Administrators Are A Bunch of Lazy Asshats Who Need a Scolding and To See Some Freaking Theater

I'll be returning to my usual coverage of intense frivolity shortly, but some disturbing news on the theater front crossed the Cabinet's inbox yesterday, and I really need to expound. I mean more than I already have in the subject line of this posting.

Some background: A prize (25K) for emerging female playwrights under the age of 32 was set up in the name of the late Wendy Wasserstein to be awarded annually and to be administrated by TDF. This year, as reported on the Youngblog, there will be no prize awarded. Below I have excerpted the first paragraph (read the whole thing here) of Michael Lew's clear, sane and articulate note to Victoria Bailey, Executive director of TDF:
Dear Ms. Bailey,

I recently had the chance to review one of the rejection letters for the Wasserstein Prize. As stated in the letter, "We regret to inform you that of the 19 nominated plays, none was deemed sufficiently realized by the selection panel to receive the Prize. As a result, the Wasserstein Prize will not be presented in 2010. While the panel thought that many of the scripts showed promise, they felt that none of the plays were truly outstanding in their current incarnation." This decision can only be interpreted as a blanket indictment on the quality of female emerging writers and their work, and is insulting not only to the finalists but also to the many theatre professionals who nominated these writers and deemed their plays prize worthy. This decision perpetuates the pattern of gender bias outlined in Julia Jordan and Emily Glassberg Sands' study on women in theatre, and the message it sends to the theatre community generally is that there aren't any young female playwrights worth investigating.

That's it in a nutshell. They looked at 19 plays and have decided to withhold the prize. What the fucking fuck. As I've mentioned here before (and many of you know), for seven years I was on the adjudication panel for The New York International Fringe Festival. Each year I would look at something like 200 proposals. During the year I see countless more shows. There are armies of talented young female writers out there, I mean you can't swing a fucking cat without getting at least ten of them really fucking angry because there are so many of them that many will inevitably see you doing it. To say there are no playwrights of merit worthy of receiving the prize points more, in my opinion, to administrative malfeasance than to the lack of talent in every female playwright in the whole fucking United States of America. They looked at 19 plays. That number alone is laughable. From what I understand, plays must be nominated. By whom, I have no fucking clue, as the prize doesn't have a webpage. In fact, there is not one mention of the prize on the entire TDF site.

The best way to find worthy recipients is to, like, look for them. Give it a whirl you fucking assholes. Women artists of all stripes are treated shitty enough without a prize that was set up to promote their work insulting freaking everyone through their laziness and negligence. So woman up, bitches, and get it together.

And, everyone: Sign this petition.


Tim N. said...

"administrative malfeasance"

You good with words.

Ken said...

The greatest theatrical experience I've had this year was Annie Baker's
"The Aliens." Her "Circle Mirror Transformation" is one of the most-produced plays in regional theater this season. She is 29.
Yoo hoo, TDF...are you listening?

adrienneclark said...

I am appalled by this.

(Hello by the way, this is my first comment on your blog, but I love it and I have been following for a while)

I am a female writer for the theater as well, and I couldn't agree more with you.

In general I am a proponent of high standards, the theater should strive for excellence, but this bullshit disguised in the idea of "high standards" makes everything I stand for look bad.

There is no way that no female playwright was good enough to earn that prize this year. I can think of 5 plays written by women that should have been awarded this.

You said it all already so I don't need to repeat your words, but I can not believe that 1. this happened at all, and 2. that they would release a statement like that.