Deepa Purohit A NY Playwright
The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO), in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation, has selected playwright Deepa Purohit as the winner of the 2024 Hermitage Greenfield Prize (HGP). Purohit is an award-winning playwright who made her Off-Broadway debut in the Atlantic Theater Company’s 2022-23 season with the world premiere of her playElyria (2023 Drama League Award Nominee for Outstanding Production of a Play, 2017 NEA Commission, and 2019 Jerome Foundation support with Ma-Yi Theater Company).
The Hermitage Greenfield Prize is awarded annually, rotating between the fields of theater, music, and visual art. Purohit will receive a six-week Hermitage Fellowship and a $35,000 commission to create a new work of theater, which will have its first public presentation in Sarasota in 2026. This year, the Greenfield Foundation and the Hermitage decided to increase the cash component of the award from $30,000 to $35,000. Purohit will be the first recipient of the HGP to receive this newly increased commission prize.
Purohit was selected by a distinguished jury that included Obie Award-winning playwright Rajiv Joseph, Tony Award winner and Artistic Director of A.R.T. Diane Paulus, and Tony Award-winning actor, director, and writer Ruben Santiago-Hudson.Past winners of this distinguished honor in the discipline of theater include Aleshea Harris (2021), Martyna Majok (2018), Nilo Cruz (2014), John Guare (2011), and Craig Lucas (2009).
“Amidst a truly extraordinary field of finalists, this remarkable jury faced an incredibly difficult task to select a single recipient. Deepa Purohit emerged as an ambitious and original theatrical voice who impressed the jury with her inspiring vision,” says Hermitage Artistic Director Andy Sandberg. “Her dedication to innovative storytelling embodies the mission of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize — to bring into the world works of art that have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society.
“We thank our distinguished jurors for their dedication, and we congratulate all four brilliant finalists, whom we look forward to welcoming at the Hermitage. We’re excited to host Deepa in Florida for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner in April, and subsequently as a Hermitage Fellow in anticipation of the first public presentation of her new commission in Sarasota in 2026.”
Deepa Purohit was featured last year in the Atlantic Theater Company’s season with the Off-Broadway production of her play Elyria, earning Purohit a 2023 Drama League Award nomination for Outstanding Production of a Play. She co-founded and ran Rising Circle Theater Collective, a theater company centered on the stories of people of color. Deepa was recently announced as the Director of New Works at People’s Light Theatre. Based in Brooklyn, she studied acting at the Harlem Theatre Company in New York City. Her acting credits include Sex and The City 2 and The Sopranos. Prior to focusing on playwriting, Purohit had a career in education as a Baltimore City middle school teacher, and she is an alumna of the Teach For America program.
Hermitage Greenfield Prize recipients and finalists are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders. The 2024 jury in theater included Rajiv Joseph, an Obie Award-winning playwright, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and member of the Hermitage National Curatorial Council; Diane Paulus, a Tony Award-winning Broadway director and Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University; and Ruben Santiago-Hudson, a Tony and Obie Award-winning actor, director, and writer.
Three finalists for the 2024 Hermitage Greenfield Prize include Zora Howard, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, writer, performer, and Hermitage alumna whose plays include Stew, Hang Time, The Master’s Tools, Bust, and Good Faith; Daniel & Patrick Lazour, brothers and musical theater writers who created the original musical We Live in Cairo; and Britton Smith, a writer, performer, and co-founder of the Tony Award-winning organization Broadway Advocacy Coalition. All three will receive a Hermitage residency, in addition to a prize of $1,000.
“Deepa Purohit had a brilliant play at the Atlantic last season, and she has shown that she has the ambition and the talent as a playwright to be a real serious voice in the theater,” says Rajiv Joseph. “Deepa is definitely someone I look forward to seeing more from.”
“The experience of being a juror for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize was deeply inspiring, as we heard very engaging and innovative proposals from an incredible roster of finalists,” says Diane Paulus. “The winner, Deepa Purohit, is an artist whom I know will make a major contribution to the theater world, and through her project, to our understanding of the existential questions of how we live and die with dignity and care for our elders.”
“What an honor to be a member of the jury for the 2024 Hermitage Greenfield Prize,” added Ruben Santiago-Hudson. “Listening to the ideas bursting from the minds and hearts of four of the most dynamic theater artists of our time was a revelation. This whole process was a wonderful confirmation that our theater is in great hands and the future is indeed very bright. That the Hermitage is here to support these exceptional artists is truly a gift. It gives me the greatest pleasure to say congratulations to all four finalists – Zora Howard, Daniel & Patrick Lazour, Deepa Purohit, and Britton Smith – all champions of this extraordinary life that has chosen us called the theater. We look forward to witnessing their fierce, brave, and beautiful stories unfold.”
“I’m humbled and deeply grateful to receive the incredibly generous Hermitage Greenfield Prize at this moment in my life. I’m honestly blown away,” says Purohit. “The support of the prize and the residency will provide me with the much needed space, time, and resources that I’ve been craving to not only create a new work, but also to grow and experiment in my craft in ways I hope will contribute to American theater and the cultural fabric of our society.”
Centering the stories of South Asian women, Purohit plans to explore a question we all must encounter in our lives — how does one die with dignity in a society that values a sophisticated medical system centered on a key tenet: to prolong life? Purohit aims to bring all her skills as a playwright and theatrical polymath to this new commission, blending various forms of theatrical expression including multimedia, installation performance art, and immersive theatrical happenings. Growing up with a father who immigrated to Ohio and built his career as a surgeon in the American medical system, and a mother who spent many years at the end of her lift navigating the complex system as a patient, Purohit brings deep personal connections and insight to the story. In the face of an immense, multi-billion dollar medical and elder care industry, Purohit explores what she believes to be one of the most complicated and meaningful issues of our time — how to die with dignity.
Purohit will be celebrated at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on Sunday, April 14th at 6pm at Michael’s On East in Sarasota, Florida. Capacity will be limited, so early reservations are strongly recommended. Tables and sponsorships now available; additional information can be found at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.
In addition to the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on April 14th, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration will include programs and talks with current and past HGP winners from April 12 to 15, 2024. These events will be presented on the Hermitage Beach and throughout Sarasota County with some also available online. Additional details about these programs will be announced at a later date. The Hermitage Greenfield Prize Celebration is presented in partnership with the Greenfield Foundation, with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County serving as the Lead Community Sponsor.
In addition to the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, the Hermitage Artist Retreat launched the annual Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) in 2021, established to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. Recipients of the HMTA to date include playwright Madeleine George (Only Murders in the Building on Hulu) and theater maker Shariffa Ali, who both recently shared readings of their newly created commissions at MCC Theater in New York, as well as the most recent recipient Imani Uzuri, and a fourth winner to be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information about the Hermitage, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, and upcoming Hermitage programs, visit HermitageArtistRetreat.org.