November 06, 2017

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – November 6, 2017 – The Writer’s Foundry at St. Joseph’s College is proud to announce that faculty member Leah Nanako Winkler was recently awarded the inaugural Mark O’Donnell Prize at the newly named Mark O’Donnell Theater at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn.

“We at The Writer's Foundry are thrilled for Leah Nanako Winkler,” said Grace Bonner, director of The Writer's Foundry at St. Joseph's College. “I've followed Ms. Winkler's amazing career since first seeing her play, Kentucky, and we all feel like we've won the lottery with this great news.”

Winkler is a Japanese-American playwright from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her play Kentucky was among the top 10 on the 2015 Kilroys List and recently received an Off-Broadway Premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre in a co-production with Page 73 and the Radio Drama Network. Winkler is also the author of six other critically-awarded plays. She was a member of the Ma Yi theater lab, The Dorothy Streslin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages, a 2016-2018 Time Warner fellow at the Women’s Project, and a 2017 Sundance/Ucross Fellow, among other honors. In 2017, her play, Two Mile Hollow (2017 Kilroys List) will receive a simultaneous world premiere in Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Francisco. She was recently cited by The New York Times as a distinctive new voice.

The Mark O’Donnell Prize was created by The Actors Fund with royalties from the estate of late Tony-winning Hairspray co-librettist Mark O’Donnell, who died in 2012 at the age of 58.

“I feel deeply grateful to Steve O'Donnell, Jack Tantleff, Playwrights Horizons and the Actors Fund for this amazing honor,” said Winkler. “I've loved Mark O'Donnell's writing since high school and I strive to write with humor, playfulness and heart, just like he did. I love being a part of the St. Joseph's faculty, and cherish every single one of my smart, creative, empathetic students.”

The Prize is awarded annually to emerging theatre artists who show talent and promise. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize and is open to writers, composers, directors and designers, and is co-administered by Playwrights Horizons. In addition to the prize money, the award includes access to The Mark O’Donnell Theater to develop a reading of a new work.

For more information, contact Michael Banach at [email protected].

St. Joseph’s College has been dedicated to providing a diverse population of students in the New York metropolitan area with an affordable education rooted in the liberal arts tradition since 1916. Independent and coeducational, the College provides a strong academic and value-oriented education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, aiming to prepare each student for a life characterized by integrity, intellectual and spiritual values, social responsibility and service. Through SJC Brooklyn, SJC Long Island and SJC Online, the College offers degrees in 50 majors, special course offerings and certificates, affiliated and pre-professional programs.