Projects:The Kesselring Fellowship

The Kesselring Fellowship
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Presented in collaboration with The National Arts Club

Over the last 26 years, New York’s National Arts Club annually highlights the work of playwrights who show exceptional promise through the Kesselring Prize. Named in honor of beloved playwright Joseph Kesselring, author of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, the Kesselring Prize was first presented by The National Arts Club in 1980, funded by Mr. Kesselring’s widow, the late Charlotte Kesselring, and had a mission to highlight the work of emerging playwrights who had not yet received prominent national attention. Previous winners have included David Auburn, Melissa James Gibson, Tony Kushner, Nicky Silver, Anna Deavere Smith, David Lindsay-Abaire, Jose Rivera, Heather McDonald, Philip Kan Gotanda, Kira Obolensky, Tracey Scott Wilson, and Marion McClinton.

The Exchange and The Orchard Project are proud to announce a partnership with the Club and a relaunch of the Prize as the Kesselring Fellowship. The new Fellowship will be committed to generating new work, further ensuring that outstanding playwrights are provided with the tools and support to keep working in NY theatre and contribute to the cultural life of the city.

In 2008, an industry panel of writers, literary managers, actors, producers and directors and critics chose Jordan Harrison to receive the Kesselring Fellowship, and playwrights Will Eno, Rinne Groff and Marcus Gardley to receive Kesselring Honors.

In 2009, the panel and the National Arts Club choose to give out two lead awards rather than one. These two playwrights, Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghad Zoo at the Mark Taper Forum) and David Adjmi (Stunning, Lincoln Center Theatre 3) were awarded Kesselring Fellowships. Playwrights Jenny Schwartz and Tarrel Alvin McCraney were also named as Kesselring Honorees.

“The Club is so excited to relaunch and redefine the Kesselring Award, which in turn will strengthen its mission to assist playwrights,” said O. Aldon James, Jr., President of the National Arts Club. We are confident this new fellowship will involve many people from the theatre industry in the life of the Club and communicate our commitment to supporting new art in New York.”

The Kesselring Fellow receives a large honorarium and additional development support for a project of their chosing, in addition to a committed residency and workshop at the Orchard Project in upstate NY. The tenure of the Fellow will be marked by a reading of a play of their choice at the start of the fellowship and a reading of the new play at the end of the year. The Fellow can also use the year and resources to work on another commission. The three Kesselring Honorees are each presented with an honorarium, a presented reading of a play of their choice, and the opportunity to develop work with The Exchange and the Orchard Project over the course of the following year. All four playwrights will also be included in other literary and artistic events at the National Arts Club over the course of the year. In total, the Kesselring Fellow receives $7000 of direct support and $14,000 of indirect support through development, and each Honoree receives $1500 in direct support and an additional $2000 in indirect support through development.

Established in 1898, The National Arts Club was the first private club in Manhattan to include women in its membership. In addition to the Kesselring Prize, the National Arts Club confers Medals of Honor in all the arts categories, given to individuals and/or organizations for their lifetime contributions. The National Arts Club also awards scholarships to young artists, and has an outreach program for high schools. O. Aldon James, Jr., President of The National Arts Club, and Dianne Bernhard, the first Vice-President of The National Arts Club, are Co-Chairmen of the Club’s Kesselring Committee. For information about The National Arts Club and its programs, call 212-475-3424.

The Exchange is a NYC theatre company committed to producing the classics of today and tomorrow and redefining the way new theatre is created. In 2007, the board of the famed Jean Cocteau Rep invited Ari Edelson to relaunch the company with this new mission, for which he serves as Artistic Director. In partnership with the Catskill Mountain Foundation, The Exchange also runs the Orchard Project, the nation’s only development center focused on the work of companies and innovative leading artists from the US and abroad. For more information, please visit or




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