The Americans Are Coming! An Innovative (and Lucrative) Theater Award Crosses the Atlantic

The "special relationship" between the U.S. and the U.K. may be more strained since President Trump accused British foreign services of spying on him. Fortunately, the two nations' theater bonds are strengthening.

The American Playwriting Foundation is partnering with two London-based theaters to provide eight American playwrights per year an opportunity to create "artistic relationships with the British theater community." These aren't just any playwrights, mind you. They're winners of the foundation's Restless Award.

The $45,000 award, which honors unproduced works of theater by American writers, represents the largest annual cash prize in American theater awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play. Better yet, it has a pretty cool creation story.

After the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, the National Enquirer published a false story about Mr. Hoffman and his friend, the playwright and actor David Bar Katz. Katz sued, won, and used the settlement money to create the American Playwriting Foundation in honor of Hoffman.

And so a bunch of American playwrights will be heading across the Atlantic. A summary of the cross-continental partnership is as follows:

The Old Vic will annually present a staged reading of the Relentless Award-winning play in London, featuring a British cast and director, and the eight Relentless Award finalists and semi-finalists will be part of a week-long Reading Series at Theatre503, a 60-seat writing powerhouse situated in Battersea, South London, that launches the work of more new writers than any other theatre in the U.K.

According to David Bar Katz, the partnership will benefit both the playwrights and their British brethren. What American playwright wouldn't want her work performed at the Old Vic? Similarly, "Europeans who have been asking lately what the hell Americans are thinking will have an intimate opportunity to find out."

According to the foundation, the Play Selection Committee will be composed of some of America's top playwrights, including Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw and Bar Katz. Over 2,000 plays were received and considered. 

The committee "sought out plays that were challenging, and plays that were, as the name would have it, relentlessly truthful."