Playwright Aleshea Harris wins national prize for 'Is God Is'
A play by former St. Petersburg resident Aleshea Harris has won The Relentless Award, which honors Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Is God Is, her full-length play, is billed as "a revenge tale of twin sisters that takes “a revenge tale of twin sisters that takes its cues from the ancient, the modern, the tragic, the spaghetti Western, hip-hop and Afropunk." Plays must be previously unproduced and written by a U.S. citizen to be eligible. Winners receive $45,000 and a week-long residency at Ryder Farm, an artist residency program in Brewster, N.Y., as well as help developing the play through a series of staged readings at top theaters across the country, according to the American Playwriting Foundation, which established the award.
More than 2,000 new plays were submitted for the 2016 contest, which began last year. Selection committee members included playwrights Eric Bogisian, David Bar Katz, Lynn Nottage, Thomas Bradshaw, John Ortiz, Lucy Thurber and Jonathan Marc Sherman.
Harris moved to St. Petersburg in 2004 and stayed for several years. Her local performances includes Hair and Gem of the Ocean at American Stage, The Frogs and Sleeping Beauty at Freefall. In 2012 Freefall staged her original Rip.Tide, about the aftermath of a hurricane, which called for 3,000 gallons of water on the stage. Harris teaches in the School of Theatre at California Institute for the Arts.