New York Stage and Film Announces Founders Award and Pfaelzer Award Winners


New York Stage and Film announced today that Jeremy O’brian is the recipient of the 2021 Founders Award, a prestigious award that provides financial and administrative resources, as well as access to the NYSAF artist community. This year’s finalists for the Founders’ Award were Troy Anthony, Zeniba Now, Banna Desta, Gethsemane Herron-Coward, Katie Madison and Marcus Scott.

The Founders ‘Award recognizes an exceptional generative artist, in honor of the founders’ enduring commitment to nurturing emerging voices. The Founders Award is now selected by recent award recipients. This year’s committee included Ngozi Anyanwu, Keelay Gipson, Kirya Traber and Max Vernon. Recipients are offered $ 2,500, an extended NYSAF summer season residency in the Hudson Valley, and financial and administrative support for a project for which they are the sole curatorial voice. Jeremy o’brian will be hosting several events in the vicinity of World AIDS Day, including a conversation that demonstrates the multiplicity of available stories from black, gay and HIV-positive artists, which will be available as a live event and podcast audio for streaming. Jeremy will also offer a reading from his play Boys Don’t Look at Boys as a compliment to the previous conversation.

New York Stage and Film also announced that Elisa Bocanegra has been named the 2021 recipient of the Pfaelzer Award, created in honor of production manager Johanna Pfaelzer’s 20-year commitment to nurturing artists and their developing stories at New York Stage and Film.

The Pfaelzer Prize is selected in consultation with Johanna Pfaelzer and the recipient receives artistic and administrative support for projects of their choice throughout the year, culminating in a residency during the NYSAF summer season. The residency is supposed to include a reading, workshop, or other development activity that best supports the artist and their work. The recipient will be actively involved in NYSAF’s rich community of artists and artistic staff and will have the opportunity to benefit from Ms. Pfaelzer’s project mentorship.

“I am delighted to be working with New York Stage and Film,” said Founders Laureate Jeremy O’brian. “Boys don’t watch boys is a game of great importance, highlighting my deepest hope for a world where we normalize black boys by prioritizing vulnerability, gentleness and a deep esteem for self and the other. My time with NYSAF will be spent developing this play, and I’m excited to introduce myself to the New York theater community at a time that feels both new, exciting, and booming in their awareness of what might be. look like a true inclusion and representation. “

“I know firsthand the power of a great mentor. Olympia Dukakis was mine, and she encouraged me to start HERO Theater,” said Elisa Bocanegra, Pfaelzer recipient. “This new chapter in my career concerns the commissioning and development of new works. I am very honored to receive mentorship from Johanna Pfaelzer. fortunate.”


Jeremy O’Brian is a first generation Mississippi-born penman. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Tougaloo College before attending and graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master of Arts in African and African Diaspora Studies. He is the author and producer of the short film Sky blue (2021). He is the recipient of the Black Queer Fellowship of the Birmingham Black Repertory Theater Company (2020), the Liberation Theater Playwriting Residency Fellowship (2019), the Athena Theater’s Athena Writes Playwriting Fellowship (2018) and the Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voice in Playwriting Fellowship (2016). His pieces include: Egg; or anything dipped in a softened egg (Development: Athena Theater), a curious thing; or the k’ain’t fly superheroes (Workshop Production: JAGProductions), under one roof; or at home in mississippi (Development: Liberation Theater Co.), and boys don’t watch boys (Semi-finalist: Writing Scholarship from the Kingdom of the Playwright).


Elisa Bocanegra is a producer and actress who has now added directing to her credit. She is the founder of HERO Theater in Los Angeles. Elisa received a TCG Leadership U grant, which allowed her to serve on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival executive team for two seasons. His directing credits include TROIE, where she teamed up with homeless shelters around Los Angeles to raise awareness about the crisis. Other directing credits include The floating island plays by Eduardo Machado and a new project called Nuestro Planet. This ten-year New Multimedia Works initiative focuses on educating Latinx audiences about environmental justice in the Americas. Elisa was part of the NEXUS initiative at New York Stage and Film. As a performer, she has worked in numerous theaters including The Goodman Theater, Roundabout Theater Company, South Coast Rep, Center Theater Group, Hartford Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Williamstown Theater Festival. His film debut was in the winner of the Sundance Film Festival, A battle between girls.


Troy Anthony is a New York-based, Kentucky-born songwriter, director, and director practicing black queer joy. He has presented works at The Shed, Joe’s Pub, Musical Theater Factory (MTF), Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater, Prospect Theater Company and 54 Below. Commissions include The Public Theater, The Shed, Atlantic Theater Company and The Civilians. Troy has been seen in Hercules, Twelfth Night and As You Like It by the Public Theater. He is the founding director of The Fire Ensemble, where he focuses on the intersection of musical theater, community practice and social justice. He is also a 2019-2020 MTF maker and current MTF board member.

Banna Desta is an Eritrean and Ethiopian-American playwright and screenwriter who creates stories about and for the African Diaspora. For the stage, her short play Pining, a tragicomedy that explores the thrills and flaws of attraction, premiered at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and was released by Samuel French in 2019. For the screen, she is currently screenwriter for the BET + First Wives series. Club. Most recently, she wrote a short film for the Disney Discovers 2021 showcase, collaborating with the next wave of up-and-coming actors and directors in New York and Los Angeles. Previously, she wrote and co-produced the feminist and comedy short Akinyi + Yvonne, which made the official selection of many festivals. She received the John Golden Prize for Excellence in Drama Writing at NYU, where she received her MFA in Drama Writing.

Gethsemane Herron (she / she) is a playwright from Washington, DC She has developed work with JAG Productions, The Hearth, Magic Time @ Judson, The Ice Factory Festival at the New Ohio Theater, Playwright’s Playground at the Classical Theater of Harlem, The Fire This Time Festival, Roundabout Theater Company, WP Theater, Ars Nova and the Playwright’s Center, where she is Jérôme Fellow 2021-2022. Member of Ars Nova 2020-2022 playgroup and member of WP 2020-2022 theater lab. Additional residencies of The Liberation Theater Company, Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, VONA, Tofte Lake and Millay Colony, where she received the Yasmin Fellowship. Columbia award winner @ Roundabout 2020. Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival winner. Finalist for the Van Lier alouette scholarship. MFA: Columbia University. Proud member of the Playwright’s Guild.

Katie Madison is a songwriter, writer, director, producer and musical theater artist currently based in Canarsie and Munsee Lenape, also known as Brooklyn. She is the recipient of a New York City Artist Corps Grant in 2021 and was chosen by The Downtown Alliance in conjunction with En Garde Arts and The Tank to reopen New York City in their first performance in direct after the pandemic. She was a resident of Critical Breaks with Hi-Arts in April 2021 and her work was commissioned by the Department of Musical Theater at the University of Michigan, Crossroads Theater Company, The American Opera Project, The Civilians, Milwaukee Skylight Theater, The Tank and Judson Memorial. Church. His show [ taking ] space was a 2019 Sundance Theater Lab finalist, and was one of three National Black Theater Soul Producting Residency finalists that same year. Find his digital work online // instagram: @kvmad // sound cloud:kvmad //

Zeniba Now (her / Z) is an award-winning designer whose writings, musicals, songs and performances have been seen all over the world and on the internet. She describes herself as a musical storyteller and art scientist working in a variety of mediums on subjects ranging from liberating quantum science fiction to gynecological slapstick. Connect with Z’s work via

Marcus Scott is a playwright, musical theater writer and journalist. selected works: Sibling Rivalries (Long-listed for the 2020 Theater503 International Playwriting Award; finalist for the 2021 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and the 2021 ATHE-KCACTF Judith Royer Excellence In Playwriting Award; semi-finalist for the 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award and the 2021 New Dramatists Princess Grace Fellowship Award), Tumbleweed (Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2017 finalist; New Dramatists Princess Grace Fellowship Award 2017 semi-finalist), Cherry Bomb (2017 Drama League First Stage Artist-In-Residence recipient) and Sundown Town (Abingdon Theater Company’s Virtual Fall Festival of Short Pieces). His articles have appeared in Architectural Digest, Time Out New York, American Theater Magazine, Playbill, Elle, Out, Essence, The Brooklyn Rail, among others. Follow her: New Game Swap. Learn more about her on her blog:


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