Staging new plays just got sweeter for three Los Angeles playwrights and four local theater companies.

The Los Angeles New Play Project, founded to support original works presented on the Los Angeles stage, will award each of the selected playwrights $20,000, with an additional $20,000 going to each of the four producing entities that have agreed to produce the winning plays.

This year, two of the four plays selected were authored by one playwright. David Johann Kim’s “Pang Spa” will be premiered by Chalk Repertory Theatre and his “Two Stop” will be staged by the Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA. Both plays are set in the Los Angeles Korean community in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict and are related in character and theme.

Rosie Narasaki’s “Unrivaled” is slated to be produced by Playwrights’ Arena, and Marlow Wyatt’s “SHE” by Antaeus Theatre Company. All productions must take place within 18 months of the announcement of the grant award.

Kim’s “Two Stop” takes place in a Korean-owned convenience store on April 29, 1992, the night the verdict from the Rodney King trial became the flash point for the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising.

Set on the outskirts of L.A.’s Koreatown, Kim’s “Pang Spa” depicts the lives of a formerly prosperous grocery family whose business was destroyed that night. The backyard of a tenement will be transformed into an improvised Korean spa, complete with “waterfall” and “dipping pool,” for the planned immersive production.

Narasaki’s “Unrivaled” is based on two renowned Japanese female writers of the 11th century. The play pulls back the curtain on gender politics, sexuality, and class structure in a period that draws parallels to contemporary Western culture.

Wyatt’s “SHE” tells the story of 13-year-old Sojourner Freeman of Clark County, Mississippi as she battles her single mother and navigates a rocky summer trying to piece together the money to fund tuition at a prestigious Academy of Arts and Science, where she’s been invited to attend. Wyatt’s writing takes its cues from everyday life, its rhythms, patterns and movement, representing authentic storylines from diverse American subculture. This is her first full professional play production.

Narasaki’s work has been developed and produced by Becky and Baldwin, the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute, hereandnow theatre company, and more.

Kim was named “Artist in Residence” for the Kennedy Center’s “Imagination Celebration” program for their theatrical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s autobiography “The Fairy Tale of My Life.”

By establishing these awards, LANPP hopes to contribute to high-quality original work on the small and mid-sized stages of Los Angeles County. The grants are intended to help attract excellence in playwriting to the Los Angeles theater community and to encourage the production of exciting, untried plays.

“We launched Los Angeles New Play Project in order to support some of the best writers who are working to develop new plays,” explained Paula Holt. “Additionally, by helping to support small theaters that work so hard to present new plays to the local audiences, we are offering a spark for L.A. theaters coming back to life after these challenging years.”

The Los Angeles New Play Project grant is the brainchild of producers Holt and Nathan Birnbaum. The project is administered in cooperation with the UCLA Foundation, UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, and is funded by a generous benefactor who has asked to remain anonymous.

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