2014 new American play prizes announcement

November 10, 2014



MILL VALLEY, CA—Marin Theatre Company artistic director Jasson Minadakis, managing director Michael Barker and director of new play development Margot Melcon announced today the winners of MTC’s two new American play prizes, a program now in its seventh year. Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau won the 2014 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and Martyna Majok won the 2014 David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize for her play Ironbound. The winners were selected from over 900 eligible submissions.

“Both Dominique and Martyna represent incredible and exciting new voices in the theater,” Minadakis said. “These two women are writing beautifully complex stories of what it means to be an American but from very different points of view. Skeleton Crew is uniquely Dominique’s Detroit and it is also our America, where we are losing the community bond of building, of creating. The story is told through wonderfully drawn characters who are fighting to hold on to their means of survival with gorgeous and heartbreaking dignity. And Ironbound is a fascinating immigrant story, giving a glimpse into the ongoing struggles faced by people new to this country and their resolve and dedication up against so many odds. Dominique and Martyna have unique points of view and are telling important stories for our time.”

The Sky Cooper New American Play Prize celebrates the work of the American playwright and encourages the creation of bold, powerful new plays for the American stage. MTC awards the Sky Cooper Prize annually to an outstanding unproduced play written by either an established or emerging American playwright. The winning play receives a developmental workshop and a staged reading as part of MTC’s New Works Reading Series and is also considered under option for a full production as part of the theater’s annual main stage season. The playwright of the winning play receives a $10,000 award.

This year’s Sky Cooper Prize winner, Skeleton Crew, is by Dominique Morisseau. Morisseau, a New York-based playwright, who has had her work produced at the Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Labyrinth Theatre Company, The New Group, the Gate Theatre (London), Center Stage and Premiere Stages. Previous Sky Cooper winners include The Way West by Mona Mansour, Seven Spots on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman, The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter, 9 Circles by Bill Cain (winner of the 2011 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award), Sunlight by Sharr White and Magic Forest Farm by Zayd Dohrn, the latter three of which received their world premieres at MTC. Both The Way West and The Whale have full productions in MTC’s 2014-15 season.

Skeleton Crew puts a human face on the 2008 recession, telling the story of four Detroit auto-workers whose family-like bonds become a power struggle when their stamping plant is threatened with closure. It is the third part of a trilogy, The Detroit Projects, which also includes Paradise Blue and Detroit ‘67.

The David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize honors David Calicchio’s lifelong career as a playwright and supports MTC’s commitment to the discovery and development of new and emerging American playwrights. MTC awards the Calicchio Prize annually to a professionally unproduced playwright for a new work that shows outstanding promise and a distinctive new voice for the American theatre. The winning playwright receives a $2,500 award. Their submitted play receives a developmental workshop and a staged reading as part of MTC’s New Works Reading Series.

This year’s Calicchio Prize winner Martyna Majok is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Her plays have been developed or produced at Steppenwolf Theatre, The Playwright and Director Center of Moscow, The Kennedy Center, the claque, Satori Group, Red Tape Theatre, The LIDA Project, One Coast Collaboration, Yale Cabaret, and Marin Theatre Company. Previous Calicchio Prize winners include Year of the Rooster by Eric Dufault, Light by Meghan Kennedy, That Good Night by Andrew Dolan, Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Carthage by Emily Schwend and Blood / Money by A. Zell Williams, all of which received staged readings through MTC’s New Works Series.

Majok’s play Ironbound is the moving and funny story of Darja, a Polish immigrant who works as a cleaning lady in New Jersey. Set at a single bus stop, the play spans 22 years of Darja’s life, and explores her relationships with three very different men. Ironbound had a staged reading as part of MTC’s New Works Reading Series in March 2014 with the National New Play Network, and was further developed through Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look Repertory of New Work this past summer.

“Every year, we receive hundreds of extraordinary submissions by playwrights across the country,” said Margot Melcon, MTC’s director of new play development. “In the past seven years that we have been administering these prizes, we’ve gotten to read thousands of new plays and gotten to know so many new writers. We’d like to acknowledge the work of all the writers out there who should celebrated and encouraged to keep doing what they’re doing. So many of the plays we read are exceptional, and though we can only award two prizes, we continue to be excited by all the incredible plays being brought to life by all of the playwrights who submit their work to us.”

“The Sky Cooper and David Calicchio prizes awarded annually by Marin Theatre Company are unique in the American theater,” said managing director Michael Barker. “There is no other organization in the United States currently offering two prizes of this kind simultaneously. Besides recognizing the excellence of two playwrights telling relevant contemporary stories, the prizes collectively provide a necessary touch point that allows Marin Theatre Company to remain on the cutting edge of new play development.”

The submission window for the 2015 Sky Cooper and David Calicchio prizes has closed. Playwrights who submitted between July 1 and August 31, 2014 are still in consideration for the 2015 prizes. The artistic staff of Marin Theatre Company is in the process of reading the more than 700 submissions and will announce the winners of the 2015 prizes in the 2015 calendar year.

The Sky Cooper Prize and David Calicchio Prize are made possible through the generous support of Norton J. “Sky” Cooper, who has been their sole funder since 2007. His contributions make possible a significant portion of the New Play Program at Marin Theatre Company.


Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew, winner of Marin Theatre Company’s 2014 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize) is a playwright, actress and spoken-word poet. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and an alumna of the 2011 Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab and the 2012 Lark/PoNY (Playwrights of New York) fellowship. Her plays include Detroit ’67 (Public Theater; Classical Theatre of Harlem/NBT; Northlight Theatre), Sunset Baby (Labyrinth Theater Co – NYC; Gate Theater- London), and Follow Me To Nellie’s (O’Neill; Premiere Stages). Her produced one-acts include: Third Grade (Fire This Time Festival); Black at Michigan (Cherry Lane); Socks, Roses Are Played  Out and Love and Nappiness (Center Stage; ATH); love.lies.liberation (The New Group), Bumrush (Hip Hop Theater Festival) and The Masterpiece (Harlem9/HSA). Dominique’s work has also been published in NY Times bestseller “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul” and in the Harlem-based literary journal “Signifyin’ Harlem.” As an actress, starred in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop at Actors’ Theatre of Louisville in 2013. She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award, a recipient of the Elizabeth George commission from South Coast Rep, a commendation honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, the Weissberger Award for Playwriting, the U of M – Detroit Center Emerging Leader Award and a recent recipient of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama.

Martyna Majok (winner of Marin Theatre Company’s 2014 David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize) was born in Bytom, Poland, and grew up in New Jersey and Chicago. She holds a BA from the University of Chicago, and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where she assisted Paula Vogel. Her plays include Mouse in a Jar (Red Tape Theatre, The LIDA Project), the friendship of her thighs (Jane Chambers Student Feminist Playwriting Prize, workshops at the claque, The Playwright and Director Center of Moscow, and The Kennedy Center), Petty Harbour (finalist for the 2012 Princess Grace Award in Playwriting, Vassar/New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Festival), reWilding (Yale Cabaret, Satori Group), Women at the Well (Downtown Urban Theatre Festival at HERE Arts Center, NYC, and One Coast Collaboration, Seattle), and Ironbound (developed at Marin Theatre Company, the claque, and The Steppenwolf Theatre). Majok has taught playwriting at Wesleyan, The New Haven Co-Op High School, New Jersey Repertory Company, and SUNY Purchase. She is a current member of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood Playwriting Group, the 2014-2016 Women's Project Lab, and New York Theatre Workshop's 2050 Fellowship; she was also the 2012-2013 NNPN playwright in residence at New Jersey Repertory Theatre. Her awards include The National New Play Network Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, The Merage Fellowship for the American Dream, The Olga and Paul Menn Award in Playwriting, a Ragdale residency, and The Howard Stein Scholarship for Playwriting. She has also been commissioned by EST/Sloan Foundation, Walkabout Theatre, and The Foundry Theatre; and published by Samuel French and Smith & Kraus.

Founded in 1966, Marin Theatre Company is the Bay Area’s premier mid-sized theater and the leading professional theater in the North Bay. We produce a six-show season of provocative plays by passionate playwrights from the 20th century and today in our 231-seat main stage theater, as well as a five-show Theater Series for Young Audiences in partnership with the Bay Area Children’s Theatre in our 99-seat studio theater. We are committed to the development and production of new plays by American playwrights, with a comprehensive New Play Program that includes productions of world premieres, two nationally recognized annual playwriting awards, readings and workshops by the nation’s best emerging playwrights and membership in the National New Play Network. Our numerous education programs serve more than 6,000 students from over 40 Bay Area schools each year. MTC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Sasha Hnatkovich, Communications Director
(415) 388-5200, ext. 3313 | Email