2019 Bridge Award Winner Announcement from Adam Driver
Shairi Engle, 2019 Bridge Award Winner
"It's an honor for my work to be read by the AITAF team and an immense honor to be selected as the 2019 Bridge Award recipient! Thank you for this opportunity and invitation. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the upcoming adventure and so excited to learn from the talented and inspirational artists at AITAF! I'd also like to thank La Jolla Playhouse for providing a home (and cheese crackers) for the eclectic group of veteran writers I'm privileged to be a part of. Because of that cohort, the thing I couldn't write became the thing I couldn't help but write. They have my heart."
- Shairi Engle
"TAMPONS, DEAD DOGS, AND OTHER DISPOSABLE THINGS is a tough, disturbing, enraging, consistently surprising, smart, very funny and ultimately moving and revelatory play. It's a powerful, unsparing exploration of the nature of traumatic memory that fully and bravely confronts intractability while discovering within despair an ambiguous but possible opportunity to hope. The writing is rich and vivid, the characters are original and unpredictable, and it's propelled dramatically, through conflict and action, with a deeply serious purpose. Central to the play is a device that almost never succeeds; I won't specify what the device is, because flat description can't do justice to the deft way Ms. Engle handles it or the theatricality and meaning she derives from it. The play is marvelously stageworthy, but it's also literature, written to be read - that understanding of playwriting is rarer than it should be, and encountering a playwright who gets it is an occasion to rejoice."
- Tony Kushner
Shairi Engle Bio:
Shairi Engle is a former Air Traffic Controller with the USAF and now writes, takes photographs, and drinks IPAs in somewhat sunny San Diego. She's a volunteer writing and performing coach with the literary non-profit So Say We All (SSWA), an organization that helps individuals tell their true stories. Shairi performs her own personal essays when provided with snacks. She's also a member of a ragtag writing group of veterans that meet routinely at La Jolla Playhouse. Shairi's first commissioned site-specific play will make its debut this October in the San Diego Without Walls (WOW) Festival. TAMPONS, DEAD DOGS, AND OTHER DISPOSABLE THINGS is her first play.
The Final Selecting Judge was Tony Kushner.
Tony Kushner's plays include A Bright Room Called Day; Angels in America, Parts Oneand Two; Slavs!; Homebody/Kabul; the musical Caroline, or Change and the opera A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck, both with composer Jeanine Tesori; and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide To Capitalism And Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures. He has adapted and translated Pierre Corneille's The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan and Mother Courage and Her Children; and the English-language libretto for the opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols' film of Angels In America, and for Steven Spielberg's Munich and Lincoln. His books include Brundibar, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award, two Oscar nominations, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, among other honors. In 2012, he was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. He lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.
THE VERY LAST DAYS OF THE FIRST COLORED CIRCUS by Steven Butler
An all-black traveling circus in the 1920's attempts to deal with the pressures put on them by the circus's white owner -- who stole the circus out from under the nose of Ollie, the black man who used to own it. Through these vibrant, compelling characters -- who literally have to sing and dance for their survival -- we see the way racism is commodified, internalized, and patronized by audiences who can't live without it. This is a funny, vivid, and well-researched portrayal of the shifting alliances between a deeply affectionate, deeply conflicted group of people who all are searching for dignity, freedom, and love.
THE PRODIGAL ONE by A.J. DeLauder
The patriarch of the Hale family is dying, forcing the question of who will inherit the family farm, which has been passed down along the male line for as long as anyone can remember. But eldest child Alison has been working the farm while her younger brother is off serving in Iraq, and now, she wants to be the official heir -- even in the face of her mother's steadfast opposition. And Alison is also grappling with another issue -- the long-buried truth of her gender identity. In this humane, carefully-wrought story about what happens when truths collide, we see the struggle of a family and a farm trying to do the best they can in the face of inevitable change.
AFTER PEOPLE LIKE YOU by Jason Pizzarello
It's 10:49pm and two couples -- Anna and Diego, and Tim and Keri -- are taking the same R train to Forest Hills, Queens. They've all just been to the same wedding, but they haven't spoken in five years -- and as their subway ride progresses, we learn that there's more than that silence fueling the space between them. This R train-ride takes place in the future, in the wake of a climate related event called the Surge -- but the characters are still living their lives, dealing with the litany of mundane and monstrous problems that confront ordinary people, apocalypse or not. Through the spiky specificity of its characters and the careful narrative revelations, this play asks: is this a great time to be alive? Is being alive enough?
LOCAL GODS by Anton Sattler
Miriam, a military police officer of 14 years, has recently moved home with her husband. They struggle individually and as a couple to find a sense of connection from within their new normal -- when in fact, nothing is normal. She is suspicious of her brother-in-law's treatment of his daughter Kaitlyn, haunted by decisions she made in Iraq, and conflicted about her responsibilities and regrets. Unfolding in parallel with a counterpointed series of email exchanges between a soldier from Miriam's platoon and his sister, Miriam and her family's struggles to move forward are a keenly observed, poignant portrait of the losses we suffer when we go to war, and the losses we suffer when we come back.
The Bridge Award Team
Submissions Coordinator/Reader Committee Chair
J. Stephen Brantley
Alice Eve Cohen
Leah Nanako Winkler