The Stanley Drama Award is given each year by the Wagner College Theatre to a playwright or creative team for an original, unpublished full-length play or musical or thematically related set of one-act plays that has not yet been professionally produced.
Today, the annual Stanley Award program is one of the highlights of the WCT’s year, bringing members of our own theater community together with the New York theater press at one of Manhattan’s leading private clubs.
But when the Stanleys were first given, they were the prize awarded to the top playwriting student at the New York City Writers Conference, a 10-day poetry, fiction and drama-writing workshop conducted each summer by Wagner College from 1956 until about 1969.
The best short-form description of the NYC Writers Conference comes from Terence Diggory’s “Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets” (New York: Facts on File, 2009, page 342):
Based at Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, the New York City Writers Conference provided an important staging ground for New York School poets in the early years of the emergence of the second generation. To some extent the Wagner College conference provided an experience for the New York School similar to that provided for the Beat, Black Mountain, and San Francisco Renaissance poets by the conference held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, during the summer of 1963. Representatives of all of these groups then converged at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965.
The New York City Writers Conference was founded in 1956 as a 10-day summer school program under the direction of Gorham Munson (1896-1969), who had for many years taught a popular writing workshop at the New School. The conference personnel shifted noticeably toward the avant-garde when Willard Maas took over as director for a brief period in the early 1960s. Kenneth Koch taught poetry, Edward Albee playwriting, and the fiction workshop alternated between Paul Goodman and Kay Boyle, who succeeded Maas as conference director in 1964. A group of younger poets followed Koch to study with him, including, in 1962, Frank Lima and David Shapiro, and, in 1963, Jim Brodey, Kathleen Fraser, and Tony Towle. Gerard Malanga, a Wagner College student and protégé of Maas, was present both years and provided his own connections to the avant-garde. In his “Memoir” Towle recounts an expedition that Malanga led to Andy Warhol’s Factory, where Malanga had just begun to work. The Gotham Book Mart provided a link to the old avant-garde by sponsoring a writing award, in which Lima, Shapiro, and Towle each had a share.
In addition to workshops the conference sponsored readings and “round-table, coffee-hour discussions” with visiting writers and artists. Under Maas the guests included poets Frank O’Hara, Bill Berkson, Kenward Elmslie, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and Gregory Corso, as well as representatives of other arts, for instance, the composer Ben Weber, Julian Beck and Judith Malina of the Living Theatre, and Amos Vogel of Cinema 16. A wintertime counterpart to these events, a “Fine Arts Festival” held on the Wagner campus every February, became the occasion for the notorious joint appearance of O’Hara and Robert Lowell in 1962, when O’Hara read “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed),” just composed on the ferry ride over to Staten Island, and Lowell responded dryly that the poems he would read had taken more time to write. In February 1964 Malanga organized a panel billed as “The New Decadents,” consisting of himself, Joe Brainard, Ted Berrigan, Dick Gallup, Lorenzo Thomas, Peter Orlovsky, and Ron Padgett.
One of the best-known playwrights associated with the Stanley Drama Award never actually won the award himself. Paul Zindel, a local kid, had finished his second year studying chemistry at Wagner College when the New York City Writers Conference began in 1956. Always interested in writing — several of his stories appeared in the Wagner student newspaper, The Wagnerian — Zindel became a scholarship student at the conference, earning his tuition by editing a newsletter published each day during the workshop, The Sea Hawk Daily (named for the Wagner College mascot, the seahawk). He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1958, and his master’s degree in 1962.
Paul Zindel continued attending the conference through at least 1961, when he interviewed the head playwriting instructor, Edward Albee, about the new, full-length drama he was writing, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” whose lead characters were based on the director of the NYC Writers Conference, Willard Maas, and his wife Marie Menken. The first Zindel play to be produced, “Dimensions of Peacocks” (1961, Eleanor Gould Theatre), was written while Zindel was a Writers Conference student, and an early version of the first act was published in the 1960 edition of the Wagner Literary Magazine as “The Cage.”
Until 1969, Zindel earned a living as a chemistry teacher at Tottenville High School on Staten Island, all the while writing plays as well as young adult novels, including “The Pigman” (1968). His major playwriting achievement, “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” first staged in mid-1965, won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize. Paul Zindel died in 2003.
The first playwright to achieve a modest degree of fame as the Stanley Drama Award winner was 1959 laureate Gene Radano, a full-time New York City policeman since 1946 who had written six other plays before penning “The Apple Doesn’t Fall,” which the New York Times characterized as “a contemporary play dealing with the impact of the mafia on an Italian family in Manhattan.” The press continued to be fascinated by the idea of an NYPD officer who was also a writer, although the records show only one more of his plays making it into production, “The Opening of a Window” in 1961.
Radano was also the author of two books, “Walking the Beat: A New York Policeman Tells What It’s Like on His Side of the Law” (World, 1968) and “Stories Cops Only Tell Each Other” (Stein & Day, 1974). Kirkus Review panned “Walking the Beat,” saying (ironically) that “the author, who is obviously not a cop himself [emphasis ours], clips and pastes ‘case’ episodes and dirty stories, unfunny and out of context.”
The 1960 Stanley Drama Award was the first to show the influence of New York City Writers Conference director and Wagner College English professor Willard Maas. Maas, a minor poet and experimental filmmaker, was best known for the parties he and his wife threw most weekends for members of New York’s artistic avant garde.
“Willard and Marie were the last of the great bohemians,” recalled their friend Andy Warhol of Maas and his wife. “They wrote and filmed and drank (their friends called them ‘scholarly drunks’) and were involved with all the modern poets. … Everybody loved to visit them.”
Two of the finalists for the 1960 Stanley Award were personal associates of Maas.
Poet Joe LeSueur was given a Stanley honorable mention for his play, “A Cool Wind over the Living.” Part of the New York School of poetry and longtime roommate and sometime lover of Frank O’Hara, LeSueur is perhaps best remembered for his posthumously published memoir, “Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O’Hara” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003). “A Cool Wind” was taped for the second season of WNTA’s highly acclaimed series, “The Play of the Week” (air date March 27, 1961).
The 1960 Stanley Drama Award went to San Francisco’s George Hitchcock for his play, “The Busy Martyr.” At the time, Hitchcock was associate editor of the San Francisco Review, a fairly well-known literary magazine. After the Review ceased publication in 1963, Hitchcock created the magazine Kayak. William Grimes, in his New York Times obituary of Hitchcock, noted that Kayak published many of the leading lights of contemporary literary life.
“The long list of poets and writers who found a home in [Kayak’s] pages included W.S. Merwin, Anne Sexton, Robert Bly, Margaret Atwood and Hayden Carruth,” Grimes wrote, also recognizing that “Kayak enjoyed fights. It set up in opposition to revered publications like The Kenyon Review and The Hudson Review, and nourished a spirited contempt for what it saw as the overly intellectual poetry of writers like Robert Lowell and Richard Wilbur,” an attitude that aligned Kayak with the New York School poets.
The 1962 Stanley Drama Award went to Terrence McNally. The circumstances of the award, however, were somewhat irregular, for a couple of reasons.
First: Though Stanley submissions were supposed to be plays “that [have] never been produced professionally,” Terrence McNally’s submission, “This Side of the Door,” had been produced by Richard Barr on Jan. 1, 1962 at the Cherry Lane Theater as part of Barr’s Playwrights 1962 series, directed by Martin Fried and featuring Estelle Parsons and William Traylor — several months before its submission for the Stanley Award.
Second: For the second year in a row, Edward Albee was one of the Stanley Award judges. Albee, however, should probably have recused himself from the judging that year because he and McNally had been romantically involved since 1960.
Aside from those irregularities in choosing the 1962 Stanley winner, there is no denying that it was the first time the award had gone to a playwright with a major career ahead of him. The award winner was announced in a press release, dated July 7, which said, “This year’s winner, Terrance McNally [sic], a resident of Manhattan, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University in 1960. During his senior year he wrote the school’s varsity show entitled, ‘A Little Bit Different.’ He has also been a stage manager for the player’s workshop at the Actors Studio in Manhattan.”
Richard Stayton, in a 1992 Los Angeles Times Magazine story about an upcoming revival of McNally’s “It’s Only a Play,” gave a painfully frank description of McNally’s first drama:
His first serious attempt at playwriting occurred in his early 20s and was a one-act titled “This Side of the Door.” That rough beginning might have ended his playwriting career.
“It’s the only play I’ve ever written that was so autobiographical I found it painful to watch,” he says. “I put that play away. I don’t know where it exists.”
In fact, a crudely typed original script of “This Side of the Door” exists in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. To read it is to find very little evidence of the later, mature McNally. In it, an alcoholic, abusive, failed salesman rages at his “fairy son”: “Want to hear about my problem?” the father drunkenly asks. “I was born with a perpetual, perennial, eternal and life-ever-after hard-on.”
Though McNally said “he put that play away” [referring to “Door”], the Gale study guide for his play, “Master Class,” says that, “after revisions, [‘This Side of the Door’] became ‘And Things That Go Bump in the Night’,” which premiered on February 4, 1964 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and ran on Broadway in 1965 for 16 performances — a two-week run.
The 1963 Stanley Drama Award went to Adrienne Kennedy for a pair of one-act plays, “Funnyhouse of a Negro” and “The Owl Answers.” She had originally submitted “Funnyhouse” with her application for Edward Albee’s playwriting workshop at the 1962 NYC Writers Conference. In that year’s Stanley contest, however, Kennedy was passed over in favor of McNally.
That did not deter her from submitting “Funnyhouse” again for the Stanley in 1963 — when she won. “Funnyhouse” also won a 1964 Obie Distinguished Play award for its production by the East End Theater in New York, which opened in January of that year, and has been translated into several languages from English. In 1964, “Funnyhouse” was published, in full, in Wagner Literary Magazine No. 4 — a publication edited by Willard Maas. “Funnyhouse” was later published by the theatrical publisher Samuel French.
Kennedy is considered a highly influential 20th century playwright, as evidenced by the quotes from a pair of critics in the introductory biography to her Wikipedia entry:
In 1969, New York Times critic Clive Barnes wrote, “While almost every black playwright in the country is fundamentally concerned with realism — LeRoi Jones and Ed Bullins at times have something different going but even their symbolism is straightforward stuff — Miss Kennedy is weaving some kind of dramatic fabric of poetry.” In 1995, critic Michael Feingold of the Village Voice wrote, “with [Samuel] Beckett gone, Adrienne Kennedy is probably the boldest artist now writing for the theater.”
In 1965, the Stanley went to Lonne Elder III for an early, two-act version of “The Ceremonies in Dark Old Men,” about a Harlem barber and his family, later considered his best-known play. A staged NYC Writers Conference reading of the play led to Elder’s acceptance into a screenwriting workshop at Yale University in 1966 and 1967, during which he refined “Ceremonies” into the form in which it was staged by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1969, winning Elder a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright as well as a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize.
In her New Yorker review, Edith Oliver wrote, “If any American has written a finer [play], I can’t think what it is.” James Baldwin wrote, “ ‘Ceremonies in Dark Old Men’ is the most truthful play I have seen in a long time.”
According to Lonne Elder’s Wikipedia biography, “In 1973, Elder and Suzanne de Passe became the first African Americans to be nominated for the Academy Award in writing. [They were nominated for] Best Adapted Screenplay ... for the movie ‘Sounder,’ starring Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, and Kevin Hooks. … A profound influence on the works of August Wilson and films such as ‘Crooklyn’ and ‘Boyz in the Hood,’ ‘Ceremonies’ remains the definitive black American family drama and the blueprint for how to tell that story.”
The 1968 Stanley Drama Award went to Venable Herndon, a former department-store advertising copywriter, for his play, “Bag of Flies.” Working as a studio screenwriter from 1967 to 1974 for United Artists, Paramount and Columbia films, Herndon is best known for having written the 1969 screenplay for the Arlo Guthrie film, “Alice’s Restaurant,” for which he won the Writers Guild Award. Starting in 1975, Herndon taught screenwriting at NYU.
In 1969, the Stanley Drama Award went to two different playwrights, one of whom remains a curiosity: Yale Udoff, author of a pair of Stanley-winning one-acts, “The Club” and “The Little Gentleman.” The latter was published three times — once in a magazine (1972), and twice in dramatic anthologies (1972, 1977) — but was not staged until 2005, by two small Los Angeles theater companies. The reason these dates are important is that “The Little Gentleman” introduces a character who is strikingly similar to Stewie Griffin in the Fox animated television series, “Family Guy,” which first aired after the Super Bowl on Jan. 31, 1999.
Udoff’s character, Ronald, the titular “Little Gentleman,” is described in the play’s stage notes as “a child somewhere between the ages of one and three. … He speaks with a British accent. The fact that he is being portrayed by an adult actor should not be used to burlesque the dramatic situation.”
In “Family Guy,” Stewie Griffin is an evil baby genius who speaks with an Oxbridge accent, though it’s never entirely clear how many other characters can understand him except for the family dog, Brian; the baby and the dog are, by far, the most intelligent members of the family.
We wrote to Udoff on Aug. 17, 2018, asking if he had ever heard of any connection between Ronald and Stewie. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, Udoff had died four weeks earlier. His associate, Alicia Beach, did reply to our email, however, saying, “While Yale is no longer with us to answer your query, what I can say is that I did hear such speculation from Yale directly.”
The only material to be found on possible inspirations for the Stewie character in “Family Guy” links the baby to one or the other of a couple of characters from separate graphic novel series, neither of which appear to be likely. No speculation elsewhere links Stewie of “Family Guy” to Ronald of “The Little Gentleman.” Still, the strong similarity between the two is intriguing, at minimum.
The 1972 Stanley Drama Award went to Marvin Denicoff for one of the two plays he submitted in that year’s competition. The Sept. 26, 1972 Wagnerian said,
Denicoff, who is director of information services for the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C., won this year’s $500 award for a play called “Fortune Teller Man,” a drama about a once-serious playwright who has been ruined by trying for years to fit himself to the formulae of Hollywood scriptwriting. …
According to Denicoff, he has two careers: one in scientific research and one in writing. The former career, says the playwright, is what has supported the Denicoff household. For the Navy, Denicoff administers a basic research contract program in such fields as linguistics robotics, automata theory, pattern recognition, software development, etc.
But Denicoff, the writer, has also published many short stories over the years. They have appeared in a number of literary magazines, including Whit Burnett’s “Story Anthology.”
In 1985, Denicoff described to Fortune magazine writer Brian Dumaine a scheme for using computers to assist in writing plays:
Marvin Denicoff, an artificial intelligence expert and an award-winning playwright, thinks a computer could help a dramatist write plays. In his vision, still very much on paper, the playwright would draft a scene and then set up a stage on his computer screen by drawing on a rich database of stock characters, sets, and costumes. He would then instruct his electronic actors to speak and move in any way he wished until he was satisfied with the scene. The playwright could also use a computer to show his finished play to potential investors.
No record could be found of any new plays Denicoff wrote using artificial intelligence before his death in 2013.
The 1974 Stanley Drama Award went to Gus Weill for his play, “The Son of the Last Mule Dealer,” which had been written in 1969. Weill spent his career as a political campaign operative and P.R. specialist in Louisiana. For 20 years, he hosted a current affairs program, “Louisiana Legends,” on Louisiana Public Broadcasting. He wrote six novels, two volumes of poetry, one or two political biographies, and numerous plays, some produced Off-Broadway and on Broadway.
His final Broadway production, “The November People,” was produced at the Billy Rose Theatre (now the Nederlander Theatre), opening in January 1978. New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow panned it: “There is an aroma of stale cigars about this particular political melodrama,” Gussow wrote.
One of Weill’s protégés was the colorful political operative James Carville, famed as head strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1992 White House run.
The 1975 Stanley Drama Award was given for “Jonathan!”, a musical play in two acts suggested by characters in the novel, “The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great,” by Henry Fielding. The book and lyrics for “Jonathan!” were written by Alan Riefe with music by Robert Haymes.
“Jonathan!” was written in 1971. Aside from that, we have found no information about the musical. At all. Anywhere.
We have discovered, however, that Riefe and Haymes had something in common: Richard Nixon. In 1968, Bob Haymes served as the national television director for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. Four years later, Alan Riefe was co-author of a mockumentary book by “Richard M. Dixon” titled “Am I Your President?”, published by Curtis Books.
The winner of the 1977 Stanley Drama Award was Jack Zeman for “Past Tense.” According to Zeman’s obituary, the play was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. It was not, however, received at all well by critics, either when it was first produced in December 1977 by the Hartford [Conn.] Stage Co., or when it was produced on Broadway at Circle in the Square in the spring of 1980.
Zeman continued writing and producing plays before joining the writing staff of CBS television. His first screenplay, “The Real McCoy,” was a finalist in the Writer’s Guild East Competition. After leaving CBS TV Development, he wrote “Griffin’s Ghost,” his second screenplay, also a finalist in the Writer’s Guild East Competition.
He died at his Woodstock, N.Y. home in August 2008, just four months after the death of his companion, Joseph V. Coleman.
The 1980 Stanley Drama Award was won by Norman Wexler for “Private Opening.”
Wexler was already hugely famous as a screenwriter. His screenplay for “Joe” was nominated for a 1971 Oscar; the script for “Serpico,” co-written with Waldo Salt, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1973. In 1975, he wrote the adapted screenplay for “Mandingo,” and in 1977 he wrote “Saturday Night Fever,” the film that made a star of John Travolta.
As successful a writer as he was, Wexler also suffered from severe mental illness. During one manic episode in 1972, he threatened to shoot President Richard Nixon. More than a decade after Wexler’s 1999 death from a heart attack, his daughter, Erica, wrote a disturbing first-person account for the London Daily Telegraph of how she and her father’s friends tried to have him committed (“The Jekyll and Hyde Life of the Man Who Wrote ‘Saturday Night Fever’,” Jan. 19, 2013).
Jonathan Larson won the 1993 Stanley Drama Award for “Rent.”
Here is a description of the play, and its Stanley Drama Award connection, from the press release for a February 2013 staging by the Wagner College Theatre:
Based loosely on Puccini’s opera, “La Bohème,” “Rent” tells the story of a group of impoverished young musicians struggling to survive in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of AIDS. It is an unforgettable tale of young artists learning to survive, love and find their voice.
Today, Jonathan Larson’s rock opera is a staple of modern musical theater — but 20 years ago, “Rent” was still a work in progress consisting of a developmental script and a few self-recorded songs on a cassette made by the playwright/composer himself.
The idea for “Rent” had been conceived in 1989, but by 1991 Larson was still waiting tables at a SoHo diner to pay the rent on a fifth floor, cold-water Hudson Square walkup he shared with two roommates and a couple of cats.
Fortunately, for him and for us, that’s when Larson somehow heard about the Stanley Drama Award competition, administered by the Wagner College Theatre. He sent his script along with a demo tape to Bill Bly, director of the Stanley … and waited.
“It just jumped right out,” Bly told Staten Island Advance arts editor Michael J. Fressola in 1996. “My impression at the time was that the script needed a little more work, but there was no question [as to whether it was that year’s Stanley Award winner]. It was just so obvious.”
Fressola himself today recalls listening to Larson’s “Rent” cassette in his car late in 1992 as he prepared a story about the Stanley.
“The tape was rough,” Fressola says. “Nothing about it was polished, and at first the concept sounded derivative and unwieldy — but the material proved to be terrific: smart, young, heartfelt, rousing and topical.”
According to Fressola, when Billy Bly told Jonathan Larson he’d won the competition, “a grateful Larson told him that the $2,000 Stanley prize would allow him to avoid taking a ‘straight’ job for a while and buy him the luxury of a little time to work on ‘Rent’.”
A year after “Rent” won the Stanley, it was given a staged reading at the New York Theatre Workshop, followed by a three-week studio production in 1994. A lengthy editing process, in collaboration with producers, readied Larson’s masterpiece for its Off-Broadway debut on Jan. 26, 1996 — a debut the composer did not live to see. Larson died early that very morning in his walkup flat, killed by an undiagnosed heart condition. He was 35.
After moving to Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre later in 1996, “Rent” went on to win every major theatrical award, including the Tony Award for Best Musical.
“As a piece of theatre in the 1990s, ‘Rent’ changed the course of musical history,” said Tony Award-winning actor Michele Pawk, who is directing this month’s Wagner College Theatre production. “For the first time, it brought pop music into the Broadway theatre and told a story.”
Pawk, a Wagner College professor, feels a great connection to the play and the life lessons that Jonathan Larson wrote about.
“I think what is really important is that, even though it is now more of a period piece, the ideas that are written about so beautifully in this play are still important. It’s about love, life and not wasting a second, because ‘you have no day like today’,” Pawk said.
Shem Bitterman won the 1997 Stanley Drama Award for his play, “The Job,” which earned the distinction, among all Stanley winners, for drawing the most entertaining critical jab from the theatrical press.
“The Job” premiered in Los Angeles at the Hudson Guild theater in November 1998; the following June, it was staged at the WPA Theatre in Chelsea [New York] with the same cast. Both stagings were well reviewed by theater critics in L.A. and New York — with the exception of John Simon, writing for New York magazine, from whose review we quote for sheer entertainment value:
But for the no less horrendous “After the Rain,” Shem Bitterman’s “The Job” would go unchallenged as the worst production of the lousiest play of this — or perhaps any — season. ... “The Job” requires the patience of Job to sit through.
The film version of “The Job,” directed by Bitterman with a screenplay he adapted from his own theatrical script, was released in 2009. It won for best screenplay at the San Diego Film Festival; the only review of the film to be found online is part of a story on the San Diego PBS affiliate’s website about the 2009 festival.
The 2003 Stanley Drama Award winner, Richard Kalinoski for “Skin of a Lawyer,” was previously distinguished for his play, “Beasts on the Moon,” which won five Molière Awards in 2001 — considered the French theater’s equivalent of the Tony Awards — most notably for Best Adaptation of a Foreign Play. In 2005, “Beasts” was produced Off-Broadway at the Century Center, with a favorable review by Ben Brantley in the New York Times.
During the Spring 2014 semester, Kalinoski was artist in residence at Wagner College, where he directed the Stage One production of his play, “My Soldiers.”
The only other Stanley Drama Award winner to return to Grymes Hill as a Wagner College Theatre professor was Benjamin V. Marshall, winner of the 2018 Stanley for his play, “Incident at Willow Creek.” Marshall was hired to teach playwriting at Wagner College during the Fall 2018 semester. During that semester, on Oct. 20, his Stanley Award-winning play was given a staged reading on campus.
The 2004 Stanley Drama Award went to Joseph A. Zaitchik for his play, “Be Our Joys.” At the time, the playwright was 80 years old. According to his son Alex, Joe Zaitchik said, “They told me the competition was for aspiring playwrights, but my hearing is not so good, and I thought they said expiring playwrights.”
Zaitchik, an English professor at UMass Lowell, took the name for his play, which he described as “a comedy with a very serious theme,” from a Robert Browning poem, “Rabbi Ben Ezra.”
It was Zaitchik’s youngest son Daniel, himself a professional actor, who got the professor thinking about playwriting. Over the years, the self-described “dabbler” published poems, short stories, academic articles and textbooks, but had not written a play before “Joys.”
Zaitchik, born in Belarus in 1924, escaped with his family to America at age 4 after his father, a rabbinical scholar, was targeted for execution following the Communist revolution.
Joseph Zaitchik’s first novel, “The Fitting,” was published by Florida Academic Press in 2011, when the author was 87 years old — just nine months before his death. He had started writing “The Fitting” in the 1950s.
In 2012, the Stanley Award was won by Karen L. Lewis. Lewis began her creative life as an actress, becoming a playwright at the suggestion of pen pal Ginger Rogers.
Lewis won the Mary Roberts Rinehart Grant, currently administered by the Graduate Creative Writing Program at George Mason University, to complete a work-in-progress, “Ezili.” Lewis’s play, “Behind a Mask; or, A Woman’s Face,” based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, was staged Off Off Broadway at Jean Erdman and Joseph Campbell’s Theater of the Open Eye in 1983. More recently, her Stanley Award-winning play, “The Perfect Wife,” was also selected as a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre’s National Playwrights Conference.
“A stretch of employment writing for soap operas [including “All My Children” and “As the World Turns”] brought me five Emmys and three Writers Guild Awards,” Lewis says. “None of these means as much to me as winning the Stanley Drama Award for ‘The Perfect Wife’.”
Of final note, playwright Harold Ellis Clark of Gretna, Louisiana, has distinguished himself in the Stanley Drama Awards annals for being named a competition finalist the most times, yet (so far) never winning the top prize:
- “Tour Detour,” 2013
- “Uncle Bobby ’63,” 2015
- “Madame Thames’s Spirit Bar,” 2016
Since beginning his playwriting career in 2010, after 18 years of writing numerous unpublished novels and unproduced screenplays, Clark’s plays have won a range of distinctions, including three times as a semifinalist at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
Since 2002, Clark has served as host/producer of WYLD-FM’s “Sunday Journal with Hal Clark,” five-time winner of the Best Radio Talk Show Award at the annual Press Club of New Orleans’ Excellence in Journalism Awards Competition Gala.