Oedipus el Rey wins Will Glickman award

UPDATE: See full press release below from Theater Bay Area.

This one almost flew completely under the radar. If the headline hadn’t popped up on SFGate I don’t know that I would’ve ever known that Luis Alfaro’s hardened Oedipus el Rey had just won the Glickman Playwright Award. Alfaro will receive a $4,000 prize.

And it’s a great choice, I was really pleased to see this work receive the award — even if I hardly ever get the spelling right. We covered the play for Stark Insider about this time last year at Magic Theater in San Francisco where it premiered, and awarded it 5 out of 5 stars, only one of five shows to receive a perfect score in 2010.

Oedipus is one of those productions that feels immediately fresh, even though it re-spins Sophocles’ Greek tragic tale. Think of it as theater re-imaged. In this day and age of projection, and wham-bam visual effects (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), Oedipus wowed with its authenticity, stripped down set and magnetic dialog. When they talk about truth and honesty in performance, I’m guessing this would be a perfect example.

In her review Loni wrote, “Bound by a cohesive rhythm of words, actions and live music against a minimalist set, the play is powerful because of its vulnerability and honesty. This work is 90 minutes with no intermission which keeps this work tight like a rich shot of espresso.”

The play was also awarded an inaugural Starkie for “Best of 2010: Production.” Alas, it carries no cash prize, just simple pride and a pat on the virtual back. The bonus, of course: being able to say “Starkie.”

Another thing I learned with this play was the power of copy and paste. I can’t recall a play title ever giving my fingers such a challenge. “Oedipus” was “Oedupus” or “Oedtopus.” And for some reason I kept calling it “del Rey” you know like a special edition Corvette or a nice place to live in Florida. How thankful was I that Magic’s most recent play was simply called “Or,” (but with a comma…).

It’s hard to find much information about the Glickman Playwright Award — not to be confused with the Jiminy Glick award for long-suffering. About all I could dig up was a short Wikipedia entry where I learned that the award is named after Will Glickman, an American playwright. The award is administered by the Will Glickman Foundation and Theater Bay Area.

No doubt the selection process was in good hands. According to SFGate: “this year’s jury consisted of The Chronicle’s Robert Hurwitt, Karen D’Souza of the San Jose Mercury News, Theatre Bay Area magazine Editor in Chief Sam Hurwitt, Rob Avila of the Bay Guardian and Chloe Veltman of Bay Citizen.”

Congratulations one and all.

Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey Wins Glickman Award
for Best New Play to Premiere in the Bay Area in 2010

January 28, 2011 (San Francisco): Playwright Luis Alfaro has won the prestigious Will Glickman Award for Oedipus el Rey, which received its world premiere with Magic Theatre in February 2010. Alfaro and Magic will receive awards at a private ceremony hosted by Theatre Bay Area in April. In addition, Alfaro will receive the award’s $4,000 purse.

A reimagining of the Sophocles classic with a unique Chicano swagger and sly sense of humor, MacArthur “Genius” Award winner Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus el Rey is an electrifying and unforgettable myth for the modern age. As Oedipus struggles against fate amidst a chorus of prison inmates, his epic journey takes him down California’s dusty Highway 99 from the Golden Gate Bridge to the City of Angels. Produced as part of the National New Play Network, Oedipus el Rey was subsequently produced at Pasadena’s Theatre @ Boston Court and is currently being produced at Washington, DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

“Getting the affirmation of the Glickman Award that this experiment resonated not only with audiences but with critics, as well, is one of the most humbling and rewarding moments of my career,” says winning playwright Luis Alfaro. “I started my career in the Bay Area as a young performance artist and I remember Fort Mason years ago, trudging up the stairs in the 1990’s and having a dream that I would work at the Magic one day. I am deeply grateful for the Bay Area and how it has changed and made me.”

“The Glickman is an extraordinary honor and a fantastic testament to the power of Luis Alfaro’s thrillingly fresh re-imagining of the timeless Oedipus myth,” says Magic Theatre’s producing artistic director Loretta Greco. “We are so glad that we can provide a rewarding artistic home for Luis and proud to have been part of the birthing of this stunning piece of theatre.”

Magic Theatre produced the very first Glickman Award-winning play, Joel Homer’s Private Scenes, in 1984. This is the theatre’s third Glickman Award-winning production, and the first time the theatre has won the award in 25 years.

“We’re proud of this prestigious award,” says Theatre Bay Area executive director Brad Erickson. “Since 1984, the Will Glickman Award has shone a spotlight on some of the best theatre the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer, and we’re pleased that the critics panel has chosen to add Luis Alfaro and his powerful and beautiful play Oedipus el Rey to the list.”

Administered by Theatre Bay Area and started in 1984 to honor Bay Area playwright and screenwriter Will Glickman, the Will Glickman Award is presented annually to the author or authors of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area. The winner is chosen by a panel of top Bay Area theatre critics: Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Avila of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Karen D’Souza of the San Jose Mercury News, Chloe Veltman of the New York Times and Sam Hurwitt (chair) of the Marin Independent Journal.

Last year’s winner, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), went on to be produced on Broadway and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for best play. Other past recipients include Tony Kushner for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (1992), Philip Kan Gotanda for Yankee Dawg You Die (1989), Octavio Solis for Santos y Santos (1994) and Leigh Fondakowski et al for The People’s Temple (2006).

About the Artist
Luis Alfaro (Playwright) is a critically acclaimed writer/performer who works in poetry, plays, short stories, performance and journalism. Chicano born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, he is the recipient of, among other awards, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and an NEA/TCG residency grant. In 2002 he was awarded the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays twice, for his plays Electricidad and Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Electricidad received its world premiere at the Borderlands Theatre in Tucson, Ariz., and was subsequently produced at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and has an upcoming production at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. A highly anthologized writer, he is featured in the anthologies O Solo Homo (Grove Press), Twelve Shades Red (Graphically Speaking LTD) and Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers (MIT Press); Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/o Theatre and Performance (TCG) and Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG). He is a member of the New York playwrights’ organization, New Dramatists, and was a resident artist at the Mark Taper Forum, where he is also co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. He was a visiting artist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where he created Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman and Other Super Hero Girls, Like Me, as part of the New Visions/New Voices youth theater program. Black Butterfly… is also performed as part of the Mark Taper Forum’s PLAY touring program. He has toured his performance work throughout the United States, England and Mexico. His short film, Chicanismo, was nominated for an Emmy award, won Best Experimental Film at the 1998 San Antonio CineFestival and was featured in San Francisco’s CineAcción ’98. A member of The Dramatists Guild, he is the winner of the 1998 National Hispanic Playwriting Competition and the 1997 Midwest PlayLabs for his play Straight As a Line which was seen in New York at Primary Stages, in Minneapolis at 3 Legged Race, in Los Angeles at Playwright’s Arena and had its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre. His play Bitter Homes and Gardens premiered in Los Angeles at Playwrights Arena. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner was commissioned by South Coast Rep and was workshopped at the Public Theater. He teaches throughout Los Angeles including the University of Southern California and California Institute of the Arts.

About the Company
Magic Theatre is one of the most prominent theatres in the nation solely dedicated to the development and production of new plays. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Loretta Greco, the mission of Magic Theatre is to give voice to playwrights, both emerging and established, and to develop and promote the work of theatre artists. Magic Theatre engages audiences in intimate, professional productions that speak to contemporary issues with originality and wit, a sense of urgency and adventure. For 43 years, Magic has contributed to the inventiveness and relevance of the national canon while passionately ensuring the future vibrancy of the American theatre. Founded by John Lion in 1967, Magic has played a central part in the national new plays movement for most of the last four decades. Magic Theatre’s history includes premieres of over 200 new works. The roster of writers whose works have premiered at the Magic reads like a Who’s Who of the American theatre, including Sam Shepard (playwright in residence 1975-83), David Mamet, Michael McClure, Nilo Cruz, Rebecca Gilman, Charles Mee, Anne Bogart, Neena Beber, John Robin Baitz, Edna O’Brien, Joseph Chaikin, Claire Chafee, John O’Keefe, Maria Irene Fornes, Michelle Carter, and Jose Rivera. Magic Theatre plays and playwrights have won four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Paula Vogel, Nilo Cruz) and ten Obie Awards. Other awards include the Kennedy Center Award, PEN-West Awards for Drama, numerous Bay Area Critics Circle Awards, the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award, and the NAACP Image Award.

About the Glickman Award
Created to honor playwright and screen writer Will Glickman, the Will Glickman Award is presented annually to the author of the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area. The winner is chosen by a panel of top Bay Area theatre critics. The goal of the fund is to encourage new plays and their production as invaluable investments in American theatre. In 2004, Theatre Bay Area, the nation’s largest regional theatre service organization, took over administration of the award. This is the 27th award.

About Theatre Bay Area
Theatre Bay Area’s mission is to unite, strengthen, promote and advance the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on behalf of our conviction that the performing arts are an essential public good, critical to a truly prosperous and democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth. Now entering our fourth decade, Theatre Bay Area serves theatre companies, theatremakers, and theatregoers as:

A professional association for theatre and dance companies. Our membership includes more than 400 companies ranging from large flagship institutions to small grassroots community groups located throughout the nine-county Bay Area.

  • A service organization providing support, career development, and community for theatre artists.
  • An information clearing-house for the arts offering a broad array of print and online publications as well as informational convenings, forums and conferences.
  • A hub for theatregoers building audiences for the arts by connecting theatregoers with arts offerings.
  • A significant arts funder providing over $150,000 in grants to artists and theatre and dance companies each year through our seven granting programs.
  • A champion for the arts working to shape public policy and build consensus around the idea that the performing arts are critical to a healthy society through advocacy with key government leaders, funders, media outlets, and the business community and engagement of our membership to advocate on their own behalf.