2020 Bridge Award Winner Announcement from Shairi Engle (2019 Winner) and Vinnie Lyman (2018 Winner)


Anton Sattler, 2020 Bridge Award Winner

“Grateful is an understatement -- AITAF has built an amazing opportunity for the military community, and I’m honored to have been selected as this year’s award recipient. The Bridge Award not only provides extra motivation for veterans to put our stories on paper, but it also shows our community that someone is listening. The core ideas and emotional battles in LOCAL GODS were in my head and my heart for a long time. I don’t know that they would have ever become a play without AITAF leaving an open door that said, “come inside, we want to hear what you have to say.” This was my third year submitting to the competition, and every year, the process pushed my writing to a new plateau. I’m looking forward to working more closely with the AITAF team, and I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunity.”

- Anton Sattler

"I was deeply impressed and moved by the quality and range of the Bridge Award finalist plays. They all exhibited great skill, intelligence, craftsmanship, and most importantly, were personal expressions of unique voices and experiences. I felt each author telling the story they needed to tell -- first for themselves, and then for others. Several, but not all, of the plays captured military or veteran life, delving into an experience which has become marginalized in our country and is often portrayed stereotypically. 

All the finalist plays dealt in some way with the experience of otherness -- feeling like an outsider, struggling to find an authentic place in our communities, our nation, and our world. Though I could easily have given the Award to any of these works, I could only pick one.

LOCAL GODS by Anton Sattler painted a portrait of an American vet, Miriam, who served four tours in Iraq. Damaged yet determined, she returns in 2016 to a Pittsburgh community which is also scarred. Sattler draws his characters with exacting nuance and complexity, eschewing sentimentalism; no one is a hero, but everyone is heroically human. Miriam's story dovetails with that of Chris, a soldier who served under her command. With great control and skill, Sattler tells these parallel and inter-related stories before bringing them together in a conclusion both touching and hopeful. 

I hope LOCAL GODS finds a premiere at a major theatre, then goes on to be produced around the country and internationally, adding to the distinguished legacy of works for the stage by American artists who served."  

- David Henry Hwang 

Anton Sattler Bio:

Anton Sattler grew up in Monroeville, PA and served as a Marine infantry officer, deploying twice to Iraq with Third Battalion, Seventh Marines. After leaving active duty, he produced the critically-acclaimed Korean War documentary CHOSIN, among other film, TV, and digital projects. He now works in the tech and media space in New York City in order to fund his writing habit. Anton lives with his wife Jacqueline Kittivarakul in Queens, NY. Jackie inspired Anton to write his first play in 2018 and submit it for the Bridge Award. LOCAL GODS is his second play.

The Final Selecting Judge was David Henry Hwang.

Suzan-Lori Parks

David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop icon Prince, and worked for four seasons as a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. Hwang serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts and as Chair of the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. His newest work, Soft Power, written with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered in 2018 at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre, where it won 6 Ovation Awards including Best New Production, and just completed a successful run at New York’s Public Theater.


LOCAL GODS by Anton Sattler
When longtime military police officer Miriam abruptly quits the Army after four tours in Iraq, she throws everything she has into making a fresh start at home. But as she and her husband Damon attempt to reintegrate into civilian life, revisiting her old haunts and old friends, home feels like unfamiliar territory. Miriam struggles to reconcile her new self with her old one--and to reconcile her conscience with the regrets she has left behind overseas. Suspicious of her brother-in-law's treatment of his daughter Kaitlyn, haunted by decisions she made as an officer, and conflicted about the moral seas still raging inside her, Miriam tries to move forward--but finds that the past is ever present. Unfolding in tandem with flashbacks of memories, emails, and imaginings that won't let Miriam go, this play is a keenly observed, poignant portrait of the losses we suffer when we go to war, and the losses we suffer when we come back.



On May 2nd, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fought for millions of dollars and millions of people across the globe. This is a four-person play about two people, a Filipino and a Black American, who had both become paradigms of ascension. In this experimental  boxing/movement exploration of the American dream, we watch two men and their handlers negotiate the balance between aggression and restraint, manipulation and connection. History-based but steeped in surreality, this is a story of race, respectability, class, money, power, fast and slow violence. By turns poetic and physical, MANNY PACQUIAO PUNCHES THE WORLD BUT THE EARTH DOESN'T EVEN FLINCH is a play about a sport that is a fight that is a dance that is a performance.


THE TWO OF US by Jeremiah Jahi
It’s 1994, and the city of Atlanta has begun its makeover as it prepares for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Archer and Turner, an older Black gay couple who own a mom-and-pop soul food restaurant, can smell the change blowing into their neighborhood. With the possibility of gentrification on the horizon--as well as new visitations from the long-ago past--Archer and Turner must now grapple with the looming changes for their business and their relationship. Archer sees change as a chance to grow beyond the community they have called home for more than twenty years, while Turner wants to dig in and fight to keep what they have. An epic love story in the tragic tradition, set in the rich cultural and poetic world of everyday African American life in the south, THE TWO OF US is a story of the fight to hold onto what is precious, and the difficulty of defining what that is. It is a play about the struggle to know what to defend and what to release, and the many ways in which love is built and expressed.   

WAR WOUND by Phillip Korth
Set in Kuwait and Iraq during the early months of 2003, WAR WOUND follows a group of US Marines through the build-up to invasion and into the first tenuous days of a long, uncertain conflict.  Together, the young men experience war for the first time and discover the boredom, brotherhood, and bloodshed that define combat. Blending documentary-style realism and elements of epic theatricality, this drama is more about filling sandbags than body bags. Its conflicts are taut and brutal--but ultimately anticlimactic, as so few aspects of modern war live up to the Marines' expectations of heroism and meaning. Brutally, unsparingly observed and deeply empathic to its characters' differences and desires, WAR WOUND is a universal story of combat, yet one unique to the generation that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan at the beginning of the 21st century. Its characters come to bear the scars all veterans carry, living and dead, injured and uninjured.  

When recent Army veteran Jade Jackson moves to Brooklyn, New York to start over, she discovers that surviving the war in Iraq was much easier than surviving the civilian world. An aspiring professional musician, Jade soon finds that her dreams of making it as an artist in New York are in competition with the demands of just making do--she has an ailing super, complicated neighbors, and escalating rent to deal with. Still, she finds herself -- perhaps reluctantly -- becoming more and more entrenched in the interconnected life of her new building. Eventually, everyone’s circumstances in this South Slope apartment collide, leaving Jade to make a decision that could change everything. In this funny, heartfelt portrait of community, we meet a woman looking to start anew in an old place, and we watch the deeply textured fabric of a family form around her; this is a play about the ways in which we're on our own, and the ways we take care of each other.  


TRADITION by James Bane
THE STARS OF ORION by Joe Cappello
ASHES/ASHES by Joshua Crone
WHEN I LAND by Owen Eddy
ENSHRINEMENT by Cynthia Hines
THE WAY BACK by Rebecca Hsia
THE CONTROL ROOM by Jonathan Kilcullen
LOVE IN RESERVE by Eric Mansfield
THE GIFT by Suzanne Willett

The Bridge Award Team

David Henry Hwang

Submissions Coordinator/Reader Committee Chair
Anna O’Donoghue

Reading Committee
Heidi Armbruster
J. Stephen Brantley
Jack Canfora
Nat Cassidy
Vichet Chum
Gina Femia
Nick Gandiello
Asta Hostetter
Mike Inwood
Portia Krieger
Eric Lane
Mona Mansour
Caroline McGraw
Tira Palmquist
Barbara Samuels
Emily Schwend
Tom Story
Moritz Von Stuelpnagel
Daniel Talbott
Leah Nanako Winkler