After three virtual staged readings of three new plays by innovative emerging AAPI playwrights, the votes for the Episcopal Actors’ Guild’s 14th Annual Barbour Playwrights Award are in. The judges have selected Garrett David Kim’s Are You There Truman? as this year’s winner.
The Barbour Playwrights Award was created in 2007 to celebrate new work for the theatre. Each year, the Episcopal Actors’ Guild (EAG) partners with a local theatre company or playwriting program to present staged readings of new work, with one playwright being awarded a prize of $500. This year’s partner was Leviathan Lab, who selected Kim’s Are You There Truman?, along with Panic Room: An Unkindness of Ravens by Cherry Lou Sy, and Learning How To Read By Moonlight by Gaven D. Trinidad to be our 2021 Barbour Award finalists.
“On behalf of the staff and board of Leviathan Lab, we were honored to partner with EAG for the Barbour Award,” said Ariel Estrada, Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Leviathan Lab. “EAG’s partnership helped us further Leviathan’s mission to advance Asian and Asian American voices in theatre and film to new audiences. The plays of all three playwrights in the series, including Cherry Lou Sy and Gaven Trinidad along with Garrett, examined the toll racism, sexism, and colonialism exacts on the hearts, minds, and bodies of Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States and the world.”
Kim’s Are You There Truman? explores how one queer person constructs, then deconstructs, then maybe reconstructs his sexuality and desire. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it provides a fascinating interrogation of what it means to love and be loved as a person of marginalized identities, examining the intersection between AAPI, LGBTQIA+, and Mixed Race Asian identities.
“It’s been interesting to work on Are You There Truman? during this past year, because it’s a play about loneliness as much as it is about queerness and decolonizing desires and the mixed-race, Asian-American experience,” said Kim. “I’m so grateful that this story about feeling alone in the world continues to find communities like EAG and Leviathan Lab that recognize the importance of telling intersectional stories. This play has become a care package to a younger Garrett, and I’m glad that its message resonates with people, especially my fellow queer, AAPI siblings.”
“Collaborating with Garrett, the amazing cast and crew from Leviathan Lab and Episcopal Actors’ Guild was simply a joy,” said fellow Barbour Award finalist Gaven D. Trinidad who directed the reading of Kim’s piece. “It is easy to collaborate with artists who you also love as fellow human beings. Garrett’s voice as a young queer Asian American playwright is so distinct, full of honesty, emotion and humor, it was easy for me as a director to lead this project. As a queer Asian American director, it would be remiss of me not to also share my gratitude that I was able to direct a show that spoke directly to the many issues that affect me and fellow queer Asian and Asian American individuals. I thank Garrett for trusting me with his complex, intersectional play.”
The Barbour Award was established and endowed by Janet Barbour Carhart, Alison Barbour Fox, and from a portion of the gift left to EAG by Mr. Thomas Barbour‘s estate.
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