Brooklyn-based playwright Matthew Freeman has been named the recipient of the 2021 Kesselring Prize, given annually by the National Arts Club to a playwright deserving of national recognition.
The $25,000 prize also includes a two-week residency and a one-year membership at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. Freeman will accept the prize during a December 2 ceremony featuring readings of his work.
“As live performances return and theatres reopen their doors, it is our pleasure to continue our support of the theatre community,” said National Arts Club President Alice Palmisano. “There is no better place to start than with the playwrights behind the work. We congratulate Matthew and look forward to celebrating his creativity later this year.”
Each year, NAC invites nonprofit theatres across the U.S. to nominate an emerging playwright for the Kesselring Prize; the recipient is then selected by the Kesselring Prize Jury: Tony-winning playwright John Guare, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Lincoln Center Theater Dramaturg Anne Cattaneo. Michael Parva, artistic director of The Directors Company, has been the Kesselring Prize artistic director since its inception in 1980.
Freeman and his work Silver Spring, an autobiographical exploration of grief and family, were nominated by New Dramatists, where he is a resident playwright.
“It feels somehow significant to receive a prize dedicated to an emerging playwright at a time when emerging is a word that applies to all of us in theatre. I’m deeply grateful to the National Arts Club for this honor,” added Freeman. “I’m also thankful for the many artists who helped bring this play into the world, and especially to Emily Morse and New Dramatists for providing the greatest resource of all: community.”
Freeman's additional plays include The Sea The Mountains The Forest The City The Plain, That Which Isn't, When is a Clock, The Listeners, The Most Wonderful Love, The Death of King Arthur, and Brandywine Distillery Fire. He is also artistic director of Theater Accident.
The Kesselring Prize was established by Charlotte Kesselring, widow of Arsenic and Old Lace playwright Joseph Kesselring, to honor and support emerging writers. Recent recipients include Mona Mansour (2020), Inda Craig Galvàn (2019), James Ijames (2018), Lauren Yee (2017), Lindsey Ferrentino (2016), and Lucas Hnath (2015).