Emerald Prize



A $10,000 Commission to Premiere New Plays by Nationally Recognized Artists

SEATTLE, WA (December 21, 2016) — Seattle Public Theater Interim Artistic Director Kelly Kitchens announced a new biennial $10,000 Emerald Prize to be awarded by the organization.

“Seattle Public Theater is dedicated to producing new plays for Seattle audiences, but rarely has the opportunity to produce world premiere plays by nationally recognized artists due to its small national theatrical footprint”, says Kitchens. “We want to change that. The Emerald Prize will connect a nationally recognized playwright to the Seattle Area’s performance community so the region’s voice is heard in national conversations and concerns.”

Earlier this year, Seattle Public Theater curated an Invitation Committee consisting of 10 members. Each member of the Invitation Committee provided the names of 5 playwrights they wished to nominate, totaling 50 names. The committee was mandated to include at least 3 artists in one of the following categories:

  1. A person of color
  2. Female-identifying
  3. A member of the LGBTQ community
  4. An artist based in the Pacific Northwest: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, or Idaho


The Invitation Committee included these new play professionals from across the country:

  • Chay Yew (Victory Gardens);
  • Valerie Curtis-Newton (University of Washington);
  • Joy Meads (The Kilroy List);
  • Nan Barnett (The National New Play Network);
  • Michelle Volansky (PlayPENN);
  • Olga Sanchez (Latina/o Theater Commons);
  • Madeline Oldham (The Ground Floor/Berkeley Rep);
  • Adam Greenfield (Playwrights’ Horizons);
  • Jeremy Cohen (The Playwrights’ Center); 
  • Torange Yeghiazarian (Golden Thread).

This year’s nominees for Seattle Public Theater’s Emerald Prize are: 

*denotes finalists announced January 11, 2017.

+denotes Emerald Prize recipient announced March 4, 2017.

  • Yussef El Guindi
  • Dael Orlandersmith
  • Betty Shamieh
  • Nahal Navidar
  • Elizabeth Heffron
  • Tariq Hamami
  • Brandon Simmons
  • Harrison David Rivers
  • Trista Baldwin
  • Susan Soon He Stanton
  • Andrew Rosendorf
  • James Anthony Tyler
  • Tearrance Chisholm
  • Sylvan Oswald
  • *Jelisa Jay Robinson
  • Emilio Rodriguez
  • *Emily Dendinger
  • James Ijames
  • Andrea Stolowitz
  • Dipika Guha
  • Anne Marie Cammarato
  • Amy Staats
  • Guadalís Del Carmen
  • *Shontina Vernon
  • Will Snider
  • Jonathan Norton
  • *Aurin Squire +
  • *Eric Pfeffinger

Of the nominees, 50% identify as women, and more than 60% are individuals of color. All were invited to submit a one page proposal for an unwritten play.

Following a blind reviewal process, Seattle Public Theater will announce 5 finalists for the Emerald Prize on January 11th, 2017 and receive a full proposal from the 5 finalists by February 15th, 2017. Kitchens will select the winner, to be announced at Seattle Public Theater’s Dream Date Gala on March 4th, 2017.

The winning playwright will be awarded $10,000 to write their play, which receives a developmental workshop, a series of staged readings throughout the Seattle area in the Fall of 2017, and is also considered under option for a full production as part of Seattle Public Theater’s 2018 season.

“New plays are vital to bringing us new ideas; they invite and often compel us to examine and engage with this ever-changing world from different perspectives. In these times of anti-intellectualism and echo chambers, we as an arts organization are committed to producing works that foster an intellectually curious community that meaningfully engages with ideas and with people”, says Kitchens. “We are thrilled that the Emerald Prize will help start one of those necessary new conversations in Seattle.”

Check out the interview Co-Producing Artistic Director Kelly Kitchens did with Gemma Wilson at City Arts Magazine about the Emerald Prize —> HERE.