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Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig named 2011 Wasserstein Prize winner

Date: Dec 29, 2011
Press Release


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Emerging playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig will receive the 2011 Wasserstein Prize in recognition of her work to date and her promise, as exemplified in part by her play 72 Transformations. 72 Transformations is about a woman's attempt, in modern China, to define herself in relationship to her family and to her changing country. The Wasserstein Prize is given by the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) to encourage the work of a young woman playwright in honor of the late Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright, Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006.  The $25,000 prize is awarded to a young woman who has not yet received national attention.  The Wasserstein Prize is funded by the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) and administered by Theatre Development Fund. 

Established in 2006 by the Educational Foundation of America and the Dramatists Guild of America in memory of their friend and board member, Wendy Wasserstein, a strong advocate for emerging women writers, the Wasserstein Prize is intended for a writer for whom the prize will make a substantial difference in her professional life.  It is hoped that the prize, which was first awarded in 2007, will provide her with encouragement and national exposure. 

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s play Lidless received the Yale Drama Series Award, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, the Keene Prize for Literature, and the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize. She has been a finalist for the Blackburn Prize, received residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, Ragdale, and the Santa Fe Art Institute, and is under commission from South Coast Rep and Seattle Rep. Her plays have been produced by Trafalagar Studios 2 on the West End, Page 73 Productions in New York, Interact Theatre in Philadelphia, and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in West Virginia. They have been developed at the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, Seattle Rep, PlayPenn, the Alley Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Playwright’s Foundation and Yale Rep. Frances received an MFA in Writing from the James A. Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin, a BA in Sociology from Brown University, and a certificate in Ensemble Created Physical Theatre from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. Her work has been published by Glimmer Train, Methuen Drama, and Yale University Press. Frances was born in Philadelphia, and raised in Northern Virginia, Okinawa, Taipei and Beijing.

The previous winners of The Wasserstein Prize were Linda Ramsey (2007), Laura Jacqmin (2008) and Marisa Wegrzyn (2009).

THE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OF AMERICA (EFA) was founded in 1959 by Richard Prentice Ettinger and his wife, Elsie. The foundation's giving is currently focused on the following four areas: the arts, education, population control and reproductive freedom, and the environment.  For more information, go to:

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