Announcing the 2020 winner of the playwriting prize from Leah Ryan’s FEWW
COVID-19 may have shut down theaters, but it hasn’t shut down the voices of women, trans women, and non-binary playwrights!
And Leah Ryan’s Fund For Emerging Women Writers is thrilled to announce that this year’s playwriting prize goes to Tyler English-Beckwith for her play MINGUS. So please join us in congratulating Tyler!
In response to the news that she received the prize, Tyler wrote: “I am so honored to have been chosen to receive this year’s Leah Ryan FEWW prize. MINGUS is a play I have labored over for a long time, and for it to be recognized by such a distinguished committee lets me know that the work was not done in vain. I am so grateful to be a part of a lineage of fierce women writers.”
MINGUS tells the story of B Coleman, a high achieving, first generation college student who has revolutionary ideas but struggles with the confidence to put them forward. When the opportunity arises to win a prestigious scholarship, she seeks out a letter of recommendation from the most popular faculty member on campus, Harrison Jones, a former member of the Black Panther Party, current Black Studies professor, and prolific author from Oakland. Harrison takes her under his wing as a mentee and challenges B to see her own worth. Over conversations on theory, jazz, and family, they unlock something inside each other, and their relationship develops into an undefined entangled web of blurred lines. When Harrison makes a bold decision, will B finally find the strength to use her voice?
This year’s reading committee remarked that MINGUS is a finely crafted play with nuanced theoretical underpinnings and two compelling characters that will be great roles for actors. In the play, Professor Harrison’s description of the music of Charles Mingus could double as a description of Tyler’s drama: Mingus tells the story without conforming to any particular method or style that was thought to be legitimate at the time. But it works and we understand it because we feel it. [… Mingus] wants to tell the story in a way that only he can.
Leah Ryan’s FEWW is excited to honor this smart, dynamic, and moving play, which really stood out among the 400+ submissions we read this year.
When it becomes reliably safe to do so, we plan to host a public reading of the play in New York City. MINGUS will also receive a reading in July as part of the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, so check that out if you’re in the area!
About Tyler English-Beckwith
Tyler English-Beckwith is a playwright, filmmaker, and actress originally from Dallas, TX, and currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the recipient of the 2020 Leah Ryan FEWW Playwriting Award, and the recipient of the 2018 Kennedy Center Paula Vogel Play Prize. Tyler is also a member of the 2020 Page 73 writers group Interstate 73. Her plays include: Mingus (2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 2019 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Play Conference Finalist), Maya and Rivers (2020 Fire This Time Festival), Bitch (Development: Page 73’s Interstate 73, Joust Theatre Company), and TWENTYEIGHT (The Vortex, Austin, TX). The series of original films Tyler wrote, co-directed, and acted in titled “Umbra” can be seen on meowwolf.com. Her screenwriting work can also be heard on the upcoming scripted podcast, “Daughters of DC”. Tyler holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch, and a BA in African and African Diaspora Studies from UT Austin. Tyler hopes to create worlds, in her writing, where black women live beyond the basic means of survival and have the audacity to be autonomous.