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Marisa Wegrzyn named 2009 Wasserstein Prize winner for her play, "Hickorydickory." $25,000 prize to be presented at a reception in New York City on Tuesday, December 1.

Date: Nov 17, 2009


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Emerging playwright MARISA WEGRZYN is the recipient of the 2009 Wasserstein Prize for her play Hickorydickory. The Wasserstein Prize was established in memory of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006.  The $25,000 prize is awarded for an outstanding script by 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. It will be presented by Wendy’s life-long friend and EFA Board member Heidi Ettinger and TDF’s Executive Director Victoria Bailey at a reception at The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South in  New York City on Tuesday, December 1. In addition to the $25,000 prize, Ms. Wegrzyn’s play, Hickorydickory, will receive a reading at Second Stage Theatre in New York City on Monday, February 1, 2010.

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 to whom $25,000 will make a substantial difference in her professional life.  It is hoped that the prize, which was first awarded in 2007, will ease financial pressures on the recipient and provide her with national exposure and encouragement. 

Upon winning the prize, Marisa Wegrzyn, a Chicago-based playwright, remarked, “I'm thrilled to win the Wasserstein Prize for Hickorydickory. I can take a break from worrying about the rent and get back to writing. If it helps get the script into the right hands, that would be tremendous. Either way, it's incredibly generous and encouraging.”

When asked to describe her play, Ms. Wegrzyn explained, “Hickorydickory is a sentimental play. It's violently sentimental. Sweet and bloody and funny. The fantasy at the heart of the story -- that we all have a clock inside that tells us the time of our death -- is something I think about in that ‘what if’ way. What if I could know exactly when I was going to die? Would I even want to know that? What would I do with my time knowing exactly how much was left? My time is finite but how finite? Those questions drive me mad.”

 “Wendy was not only admired as one of the foremost playwrights of her generation, but also for her generosity of spirit to young writers,” said Heidi Ettinger. “I believed she would have embraced the intention of this award with open arms and done whatever she could to encourage and inspire these young playwrights' visions.  Wendy was my great friend of thirty years as well as being a tireless advocate for women in the arts during the time that she served on the board of the Educational Foundation of America. I know all who knew her miss her wisdom, compassion, and wit, and hope that the ‘Wendy prize’ serves as a fitting memorial for our friend.”

This is the first year that the Wasserstein Prize is being administered by Theatre Development Fund. “Wendy Wasserstein became a significant part of TDF on that fateful day in 1998 when she asked us to partner with her on a theatre arts education program whereby underserved high school students would see their first Broadway shows with a group of their peers and be mentored by a theatre professional for an entire school year,” said TDF’s Executive Director Victoria Bailey. “She was the theatre professional, and hers was the first group in what became the ‘Open Doors’ program. The program has served hundreds of students.  It continues to flourish and currently has a roster of 24 mentors and 21 groups. Open Doors is an ongoing symbol of Wendy’s vision and commitment to the future of the theatre. We’re thrilled to further share in another part of Wendy’s legacy as the administrator of The Wasserstein Prize.”

Playwrights were nominated for the prize by leading theatrical practitioners who were particularly knowledgeable about new plays and emerging playwrights. The nominated scripts were evaluated by readers and the winner was chosen from a group of finalists by a panel of friends and colleagues of Wendy Wasserstein. Andre Bishop, Alma Cuervo, Yscaira Jimenez, Bruce Norris and Linda Winer served on this year’s selection panel.

The previous winners of The Wasserstein Prize were Linda Ramsey (2007) and Laura Jacqmin (2008) for their plays, The Feather House and And when we awoke there was light and light, respectively.

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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