Clarence Coo Also Receives $10,000 cash
Williamstown Theatre Festival has named Clarence Coo the recipient of the 2023 L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award for his play Chapters of a Floating Life. Coo will receive a $10,000 award and an accompanying $10,000 Jay Harris Commission to write a new play. The play will also receive a reading at the festival over the summer as part of the Fridays@3 new works reading series.
Chapters of a Floating Life follows two couples from China as they try to make ends meet in New York City in the wake of the Second World War. One husband and wife live uptown, obsessed with a past of poetry, painting, and gardens; another pair face the day-to-day realities of keeping a Chinatown restaurant in business. Their worlds, previously separated by class and education, converge when the two women find each other in Central Park and fall under the spell of the Chinese language.
Clarence Coo was born in the Philippines and grew up in a crowded, multilingual household in Virginia. He writes about language, class, and sexuality. His plays include On That Day in Amsterdam, The God of Wine, The Birds of Empathy, Beautiful Province (Belle Province), and People Sitting in Darkness. His work has been produced or developed at Primary Stages, Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has received fellowships from the Dramatists Guild of America, the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshopat the Lark, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Playwrights Realm, and he has been the recipient of
a Whiting Award and the Yale Drama Series Prize. He received his MFA in playwriting at Columbia University. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and an alumnus of New Dramatists.
Designed to recognize excellence in playwriting, the L. Arnold Weissberger New Play award is named in honor of a noted theatrical attorney and avid theatre supporter. Submissions for the award are by invitation only and are carefully evaluated by a team of readers over the course of six months. The five finalist plays are then considered by a panel of three judges. The panelists for the 2023 award were Allyson Tucker-Mitchell, Albert Park, and Maggie Burrows. The 2023 finalists were Jordans by Ife Olujobi, Sperm Donor Wanted (or, The Unnamed Baby Play) by TJ Young, The Door (The Senior Sex Play) by Jessica Dickey, and Trojan Women by Lauren Gunderson.
Williamstown Theatre Festival is a resident summer theatre festival held in the Berkshires. WTF aims to present unique opportunities for artists and audience alike, by revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events. The festival further seeks to provide a training program in which emerging theatre talents collaborate with accomplished mentors in a vital, professional, and educational atmosphere. As of 2020, WTF had an approximate budget of $2.6 million.