Tony got another Trophy. And it’s not a Tony.
The talented Tony Kushner won a brand new playwriting prize this week, which put $200,000 in his bank account. As this NY Times article states, the $200k purse is a fat one, compared to the $50k Pritzker or the $10k Pulitzer.
Nothing like trouncing the other big prizes with a few more zeros to show how important the subject matter, writing for the stage, truly is.
And for that, I’m uberly grateful to the uberly generous Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. The Steinbergs dedication to the theater is unprecedented.
But if I had a couple hundred Gs to give away? With all due respect to Mr. K, I wouldn’t give him a G.
Why? It certainly isn’t because he doesn’t deserve it.
It’s because the $200k wouldn’t make much of a difference to the man who “has spent much of his time in recent years writing Hollywood scripts.”
But put $200k into an account of a kid who is still working on his Angels in America while working at a diner at the same time?
That would make a difference.
I’d give the green to a rookie of the year. A promising playwright. Someone on his or her way up that could use a little less worrying about his or her electric bill and a little more worrying about Act II.
But it wouldn’t be that easy. Oh no. As a Producer you never want to give away something without a guarantee of something in return. My $200k would come with a catch. You gotta have a play in one year’s time. Not saying it has to be good, but it has to be done.
Or maybe it would be $100k in cash and $100k in production costs. Some kind of split that would give the playwright what most of them want even more than a trophy or $200k : to see their show up.
For years we’ve all griped about how we’ve lost our best writers to Hollywood (including Mr. Kushner, according to the article).
Big prizes and notoriety for the young ones would not only help keep the ones we’ve got, but they might also reverse the flow, and send us some of what the West Coast has to offer.
So, when $200k feels like $20 bucks, make the biggest difference you can when you dole it out.
Just imagine how getting that money would make you feel.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.