Gregg Henry, Artistic Director of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, sent out this press release earlier this week.
The Paul Stephen Lim Asian-American Playwriting Award
Supported by the University of Kansas Endowment Association, this award is given to the outstanding full-length or one-act play on any subject written by an Asian-American student, in honor of Paul Stephen Lim’s outstanding career as teacher, playwright and passionate advocate for new voices in the American Theatre.
Born of Chinese parents in the Philippines, Paul Stephen Lim was already a successful advertising copywriter and newspaper journalist when he emigrated to the United States at the age of 24 to further his education and to pursue a career in writing. Conpersonas, his first play, won the KCACTF National Student Playwriting Award in 1976, initiating a life-long relationship with KCACTF. Lim started teaching playwriting at the University of Kansas in 1989. He founded English Alternative Theatre (http://www.eat.ku.edu) the same year to nurture and produce the plays of his students. He was awarded the Kennedy Center medallion in 1996 for his work with student playwrights, was the Region 5 National Playwriting Program Chair 2000-2003, and served on the National Selection Team in 2004. To date, 30 plays by his students at the University of Kansas have been seen at various regional and national festivals of KCACTF. http://paulstephenlim.com.
The inaugural recipient of the Paul Stephen Lim Asian American Playwriting Award is Edgar Mendoza, Carnegie Mellon University, for his play BLUE NOTE RUN. It includes a cash award of $2,500, membership in the Dramatists Guild of America, and a professional development residency to be determined in consultation with Mr. Mendoza.
Gregg Henry very kindly flew me into Washington D.C. to attend Festival 42 of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and to present the award personally to Edgar Mendoza. Here’s the short speech I gave from the stage of the Family Theatre at the Kennedy Center on the evening of Saturday 17 April 2010.
“Back in 1976, when I won the KCACTF National Student Playwriting Award, my agent said that if I wanted to work as a playwright, I would need to move to New York. I chose to remain instead at the University of Kansas as a teacher, reconnecting with KCACTF in meaningful and fulfilling ways through my playwriting students and the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards, which give voice yearly to young American playwrights of all colors and stripes.
“I am truly honored that my name is now being added to the list of KCACTF playwriting awards. The recipients of this new Asian-American playwriting award are free to chronicle our Asian-American lives yesterday as workers in the fields of Hawaii, the canneries in Alaska, the bad Chinese restaurants which sprang up everywhere the Chinese helped to build America’s railroads…or maybe our Asian-American lives today as doctors and nurses, mathematicians and computer geeks…or not. For we are all Americans first and foremost, and then the hyphenated Americans which make us all unique.
“May our awardee tonight be the first of many in the years to come.”