Harrison David Rivers has won the 2018 Relentless Award for “The Bandaged Place,” a play about an abusive relationship between two gay men.
Bestowed by the American Playwriting Foundation, the prize was created in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman after his death in 2014. It recognizes unproduced works of theater that exude, among other criteria, passion and fearlessness.
“The Bandaged Place” initially seemed “overtly traditional,” said David Bar Katz, the foundation’s executive director. But it stood out for its blatantly violent moments, which Mr. Katz said many writers would avoid.
“The balance between beautiful poetic movement, language and extreme brutality is just incredibly honest,” he added.
Mr. Rivers is the first male playwright to win the award, now in its fifth year. He will receive a $45,000 prize and have the option to hold staged readings at prominent theaters across the country, as well as at the Old Vic theater in London.
Previous winners include Sarah DeLappe (“The Wolves”) and Clare Barron (“Dance Nation”), who shared the 2015 prize, and Aleshea Harris, who won in 2016 for “Is God Is.”
More than 2,000 submissions were winnowed down to eight by theater professionals. The jury, which includes Lynn Nottage, Eric Bogosian and Thomas Bradshaw, chose the winner from among those eight finalists.
Many of the entries grappled with gender issues that mirror today’s cultural conversations. But what set “The Bandaged Place” apart was that it was not political “in the sense of trying to make a statement about homosexual relationships or the dynamics of being homosexual,” Mr. Katz said.
The judges also selected two finalists: Lisa Sanaye Dring, for “The 626 Project,” and Genne Murphy, for “The Girl Is Chained.” Both playwrights will receive $1,000 and reading and development opportunities.
An earlier version of this article, based on information from the foundation, misspelled the given name of a finalist for the prize. She is Genne Murphy, not Genna.
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