January 2023 Programs

Newly announced January programs include ongoing partnerships with Bookstore1 and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, among others. Featured artists and performers sharing their work include author of Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood DaMaris B. Hill, composer and performer Molly Joyce, interdisciplinary visual artist Kenneth Tam, soloing violinist in pop superstar Beyoncé’s band Lady Jess, playwright Terry Guest returning to the Hermitage after an extended run at Urbanite Theater and a sold-out showing in a previous “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” appearance, author of critically acclaimed story collections and novels Diane Cook, playwright and director Kareem Fahmy, and 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award-winner Shariffa Ali.  

The newly announced programs in the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season pick up on Friday, January 6th, 2023 at 5pm on the Hermitage Beach with “Distinction and Unity.” Featuring three inventive artists working in three different fields, this cross disciplinary conversation spans literature, music, and visual art. Visual artist Kenneth Tam’s work focuses on ritual and reframing masculinity with a self-described “strain of absurdity and awkward humor.” Author DaMaris B. Hill’s latest work has been called “urgent” and “luminous” by Publisher’s Weekly, while composer and performer Molly Joyce has been described as one of the “most versatile, prolific, and intriguing composers working under the vast new-music dome” by The Washington Post

On Thursday, January 12th at 5pm, the previously announced “Violin and Voice,” cancelled in October due to Hurricane Ian, will be reborn on the Hermitage Beach. Combining the music of Lady Jess, violinist, arts leader, and frequent Beyoncé collaborator with the poignant and humorous words of award-winning playwright Terry Guest, this program paints a picture of the experience these two leading artists have living and making work in the United States and around the world. Presented as the sun sets on the Hermitage Beach, don’t miss the chance to meet these two remarkable artists as they create the works of tomorrow.  

The Hermitage returns to Bookstore1 on Friday, January 20th at 6pm where Hermitage Fellow Diane Cook presents a program focused on her collection of stories, Man V. Nature. The author’s debut work garnered substantial critical attention, making the short list for the Guardian First Book Award, the Believer Book Award, the PEN/Hemingway award, and the Los Angeles Times Award for First Fiction. Hear the author read selections of the work and discuss the different considerations when creating a story collection versus a novel, which she has since published to critical acclaim (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in Fiction). 

This season of the Hermitage’s “Artists and Thinkers” online series begins with “Kareem Fahmy’s Distinct Society” on Monday, January 23rd at 5pm ET. In the lead-up to its world premiere with Pioneer Theater in Salt Lake City, Fahmy’s play tells the story of a sleepy library that straddles the U.S.-Canada border as it becomes an unlikely crucible for five people all grappling with the “Muslim ban” in various ways. Dive into the literary, historical, and cultural considerations that influenced the writer as well as the characters and what examining their actions reveals about our own humanity. 

The popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series continues on Thursday, January 26th at 5pm with 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award Winner Shariffa Ali. This incredible theater maker hailing from South Africa is joined by singer, collaborator, and Ali’s dear friend Vuyo Sotashe to share insights into the plan for her new commission. Still in progress, the work is centered on small-town South Africa where a middle school choir, their principal, and their parents conspire to disguise the town’s most beloved singer as a girl in order to have him sing as a female soloist in a national competition. Learn about the origin for this commission in its early stages, hear text and songs that could influence the story, and get to know the theater-makers creating the work. The Hermitage Major Theater Award is made possible with generous support from Flora Major and the Kutya Major Foundation.

2022 Artful Lobster Raises a Record-Breaking $265,000

The Hermitage Artist Retreat raised more than $265,000 at the 2022 Hermitage Artful Lobster luncheon on Saturday, November 12. Now in its fourteenth year and this year marking the 20thAnniversary Season of the organization, this annual event raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program and expanded community programming initiatives. Proceeds from this year’s benefit will also be used to support campus repairs following the impact of Hurricane Ian. Over 200 guests attended the sold-out event, which took place outdoors beneath a large tent on the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus and was co-chaired by Maryann Casey and Elizabeth Moore, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as master of ceremonies. Michael’s On East served a plentiful barbeque and much-heralded lobster feast.

Hermitage Fellow and acclaimed musical composer Adam Gwon headlined the event. A recipient of the Kleban Award, the Fred Ebb Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, and the Frederick Loewe Award, among others, Adam Gwon’s work has been performed on six continents and across the United States at venues such as Roundabout Theatre, Signature Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and more. Gwon’s performance featured songs from his hit musical Scotland PA, which was written partly at the Hermitage, among other pieces. Gwon’s music was performed by the composer himself, along with accomplished vocalists Martina Long and Brandon Wardell. The event also featured an inspiring performance from Reggie Harris, a returning Hermitage alumnus, remarkably gifted musician and storyteller, and pillar of the international folk music scene for more than 40 years with his music regularly topping the folk charts. His skill and charm deliver a message of joy, unity, tolerance, and peace through the powerful medium of live music. 

“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great dance, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” noted Andy Sandberg. “We are thankful to all who attended or supported this year’s festivities. The generous outpouring of support for the work we are doing at the Hermitage is a demonstration of our community’s extraordinary commitment to the arts and the creative process.” Sandberg added that the proceeds from this year’s Artful Lobster will also support vital repairs to the Hermitage buildings and grounds following the impact of Hurricane Ian.

Sponsors and partners for the 2022 Artful Lobster include Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CHUBB, Key Agency, Herald-Tribune/LOCALiQ, and Sarasota Magazine. A full list of this year’s sponsors, benefactors, and partners can be found here.

Hermitage Presents First “Cross Arts Collaborative” Program Nov. 30

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will present a showcase of new work created during the inaugural year of the Hermitage Cross Arts Collaborative. Made possible with generous support from the Koski Family Foundation, this new initiative is designed to give performers and company members from leading Sarasota arts organizations a chance to expand their artistic practice from ‘performer’ to ‘creator.’ The goal of the Cross Arts Collaborative is to inspire and encourage generative work created by some of the best and brightest performers in our vibrant performing arts community. Nominated by their respective ‘host’ organizations in collaboration with Emily Mann, long-tenured Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre Center and Emeritus member of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council, Florida Studio Theatre’s Tsebiyah Mishael Derry and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s Derric Gobourne Jr. spent two weeks on the historic beachfront campus of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, developing their proposals to create new work. The resulting community program, “Cross Arts Collaborative: New Voices and New Work,” will be held on Wednesday November 30 at 5pm ET on the Rooftop Terrace at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s downtown Sarasota venue. The hour-long outdoor event will feature both of these remarkable performers and creators sharing excerpts from their original works-in-process.  

“We wanted to offer this one-of-a-kind opportunity to some of the leading artists in Sarasota, creating space for a talented performer to focus on being a generative artist,”said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “There are actors, dancers, musicians, and performing artists working amidst our circle of collaborators who have passion projects waiting in the wings. This could be an actor writing a play between productions, a cellist composing a symphony after rehearsals, a dancer yearning to expand into the choreographer’s space – or someone looking to work across an entirely new genre. This residency is designed for an artist who is hungry to expand their creative practice and explore a new ‘hat’ within the arts and entertainment space.” Sandberg added that this new Cross Arts Collaborative initiative would not be possible without the generous support of the Koski Family Foundation, longtime supporters and champions of the Hermitage.

“We are proud of our long history of collaboration with the Hermitage and the collective impact we have on the Sarasota community,” said Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “The Cross Arts Collaborative is an exciting new way to gather resources in service of wonderful artists like Derric who consider Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe their creative home.” 

           “Every time we partner with the Hermitage, the result is a unique look into the creative process of making theater through the eyes of a leading artist in the field,” added Florida Studio Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “I’m so pleased we are able to collaborate once more to provide this opportunity to Tsebiyah who is quickly making a name for herself as one of those leading artists. We are honored to call her an FST creative family member and cannot wait to see what this dedicated time and space to delve into her richly varied artistry has produced.” 

Nearly all Hermitage programs are free and open to the public (with a $5/person registration fee), offering Gulf Coast audiences a chance to engage and interact with some of the world’s leading talent. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration for this event is required.

New Fall Programs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will resume fall programming throughout the Gulf Coast region on October 28, with a full line-up of outdoor and indoor events through the end of the year. Though the impacts of Hurricane Ian took a significant toll on the Gulf-to-Bay campus, the organization has been working quickly to restore the buildings and grounds and has just welcomed artists back to its Manasota Key campus for the first time since the storm. 

“We have been working around the clock to bring the Hermitage campus back to life and resume operations, and we’ve been truly overwhelmed by the generous support from our extraordinary artists, audiences, donors, partners, and neighbors,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are incredibly proud of our mission and the work we are doing to serve artists and our community. After two decades in existence, thousands of Hermitage champions have made it known that we are not going to let this storm bring down the Hermitage’s spirit. It is moments like these when our community needs to come together most, and the arts are one of our most powerful tools for healing.”

The newly announced programs in the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season pick up on Thursday, November 17th at 6pm with acclaimed pianist and Hermitage Fellow Conrad Tao. Tao, who Sarasota Orchestra audiences may remember from his acclaimed 2021-2022 Masterworks Series performance, offers insight into his latest work “Keyed In” and shares in-process excerpts of work. Seen on stage at some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world, Tao has been called a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by The New York Times, who also cited him as “one of five classical music faces to watch” in the 2018-19 season; he is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and was named a Gilmore Young Artist — an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. 

On Friday, November 18th at 2:30pm, New College of Florida hosts Hermitage Fellow and internationally produced composer Yvette Janine Jackson for a “Radio Opera Workshop” in which Jackson will share selections of what The Guardian calls “immersive, nonvisual films.” Inspired by historical events and cultural realities, Jackson’s work uses narrative created through sound to transport listeners to other worlds. This gifted composer shares insights about the nuances in the creation of sonic environments in addition to sharing work and discussing it with students and the public.

December programming kicks off on the Hermitage Beach with an exciting program highlighting the Hermitage’s commitment to interdisciplinary work spanning music, visual art, and theater. “Multihyphenate Multimedia: Music, Visual Art, and Theater” features two incredible Hermitage artists whose talents cannot be contained by a single medium, style, or language. Raquel Acevedo Klein was named by The Washington Post as one of “2022’s Classical Composers and Performers to Watch,” and she is also an immensely talented visual artist. Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Guadalís Del Carmen creates original work across stage, television, and film that never shies away from the multifold perspectives of contentious issues, giving her audiences “no easy answers and no one to hate” while leaving them “more than a little entertained and a whole lot wiser” (ChicagoOnStage). See and hear original works from this incredible duo and dive into the unique, intersectional voices driving their work on Friday, December 2nd at 5pm as the sun sets over the Hermitage Beach. 

On December 9th, acclaimed Puerto Rican composer and 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner Angélica Negrón (pictured) presents a program showcasing the broad range of unconventional musical tools in her repertoire in addition to the conventional instruments found on orchestra stages around the world. Inspired by nature and the music all around her, Negrón’s wide-ranging performance and compositional practice includes plants and found objects, often layering in vocals and other electronics in playful and creative ways. Be among the first to hear a demonstration from this revolutionary artist and learn about her creative process in “Angélica Negrón: Playing a Plant,” on Friday, December 9th at 5pm on the Hermitage Great Lawn. This program is presented in partnership with CreArte Latino, ensembleNewSRQ, UnidosNow, and New Music New College. (Negrón’s Hermitage Greenfield Prize commission is expected to culminate in an outdoor orchestral string performance in the spring of 2024, which will be presented in partnership with ensembleNewSRQ.)

The last scheduled program of 2022 – “Notes: On Writing and Music” – will take place on Thursday, December 15th on the Hermitage’s Manasota Key beachfront, presented in partnership with the Johann Fust Library Foundation. Featuring two artists who both bring an international perspective, the program spans literature and music. Nigerian-born Chigozie Obioma, whose two novels The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize in Fiction, reads selections of his work and discusses his creative process. He is joined by Filipino-American musician, instrument designer, and returning Hermitage Fellow Levy Lorenzo, whose quirky and innovative work has been described as “a potent force on the side of exuberance, pleasure and awe of virtuosity” by The New York Times. Join these two incredible artists as the sun goes down on the Hermitage Beach, December 15th at 5pm.

“As we work through the Hermitage’s ongoing recovery from the storm, we are more excited than ever for the dynamic range and scope of our fall program line-up, which speaks to the expansive diversity and creative talents of our brilliant Hermitage Fellows,” adds Andy Sandberg. “Each one of these hour-long events is going to be a completely different experience in a variety of beautiful settings, offering our community a rare glimpse into innovative works in process. We are grateful to our partners and collaborators throughout the region, who help us to expand the geographic reach and impact of our Hermitage programming. We look forward to introducing the work of these visionary artists to thousands of new and returning audience members in this 20th Anniversary Season for these truly one-of-a-kind events.”

Post-Hurricane Update

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Dear Hermitage Friends,

Thank you for all of your thoughtful notes of concern. The love, support, and kindness shown by our artists, supporters, neighbors, audiences, community partners, and collaborators has been overwhelming.

First and foremost, I am grateful to report that the Hermitage staff is all safe, though many of us are still without power throughout the Gulf Coast region, and some members of the team are facing damage to their homes. Since this week was held out for annual repairs, no artists were on the premises at the time of the storm’s arrival.

The Hermitage campus took a hit from Hurricane Ian, but fortunately we are looking at a matter of significant repairs, not rebuilding. The storm surge flooding was not as high as our neighbors to the south, though the wind damage on Manasota Key was quite severe. The building structures have remained largely in place, but we do have some collapsed sections and building repairs ahead of us, plus the grounds of the Hermitage have suffered considerable damages from this hurricane.

Click here to see Jay Handelman’s Herald-Tribune story on the impact of Hurricane Ian on the Hermitage: “Hermitage Artist Retreat May Have Suffered $1 million in Hurricane Ian Damage

I must thank and recognize our incredible staff for the work they did to prepare the campus. Everyone went above and beyond in terms of storm preparations, and the team did everything we could to protect the Hermitage in the lead-up to this monster hurricane. Each member of the staff cares deeply about the Hermitage and put in many hours of heavy labor to prepare the buildings as if it was their own home – nailing up plywood over the historic windows, building sandbags to limit the flooding, and much more.

I am also thankful that last year we made significant investments in building infrastructure throughout the campus, which helped to mitigate the damage. The work that was done to prepare the buildings was invaluable, but as a historic beachfront property in Ian’s path, the impact was very much felt.

Now, the critical work ahead must begin. We are deeply committed to ensuring the Hermitage is restored and protected so that this vital property survives — and thrives — for many years to come.

Our goal is to be operational again as soon as possible — ideally in the weeks ahead, but it’s too soon to give an exact estimate until we know more details about the scope of work, as well as the electricity on the island. While various staff members and I have been down to the campus, please be advised that Manasota Key is not yet the most accessible place to visit.

Regardless of how things shake out with government assistance – which we are of course pursuing – we are going to be facing significant direct expenses to repair the campus and to protect the Hermitage from future weather emergencies.

If you are able, please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation to help our Hermitage Hurricane Repair Efforts. Whatever amount you are able to contribute would be enormously helpful as we look to revive our beautiful campus.

If you prefer to mail a check, please notify our Development Director Amy Wallace via email at Development@HermitageArtistRetreat.org or by phone at 941-475-2098, Ext. 2. Mail delivery on Manasota Key could be delayed until roads are cleared. You may also call Amy to make a payment with a credit card by phone, as she is able to receive calls remotely.

For those who are not able to contribute monetarily, we will be in touch soon about ways you can help to raise awareness and lend a hand. We recognize some of you are facing significant losses of your own, and our hearts go out to all of our friends and neighbors who suffered in Ian’s path.

Funds raised will be used not only to repair the campus and restore the ecological grounds, but also to better protect the campus moving forward. There is a reason so many of our artists and audiences describe the Hermitage as “magical” – now, we must keep that magic alive. 

On behalf of the entire Hermitage team, thank you for all of your support, which is appreciated now more than ever.

Together, we will get through this and emerge even stronger!

With heartfelt gratitude,

Andy Sandberg
Artist Director and CEO

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Hurricane Ian Damage

Hermitage Artist Retreat may have suffered $1 million in Hurricane Ian damage

by Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 1, 2022

The historic wooden cottages that make up the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key in Englewood are still standing after Hurricane Ian, but will probably require more than $1 million in repairs.

“It looks like the giant from ‘Into the Woods’ walked onto the campus and stomped around,” Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg said Saturday.

“It’s hard to assess the full damage as yet and we’re working to get contractors down here, but I’m guessing we’re looking at seven figures of damage repairs,” he said.

Fortunately, there were no visiting artists in residence at the retreat, which traditionally closes for a few weeks each September to refresh and repair the buildings. The Hermitage has canceled residencies for two weeks and a program on Oct. 6 at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s Bay Preserve, Sandberg said.

“The grounds are severely torn up. There are trees, leaves and branches on every square inch of the property and all over Manasota Key, and it’s hard to access the key. Manasota Key seems like it’s been a little bit forgotten here on this barrier island that splits two counties,” Sandberg said. 

The Hermitage has five historic buildings on a nine-acre campus where artists from around the world come up to six weeks over two years to work on new projects without the pressures of their everyday lives.

Two of the structures date to 1907, including the Hermitage House, which has served as the main gathering place for artists and some visitors on the grounds. Sandberg said those buildings were moved back 50 feet from the water’s edge during a restoration about 20 years ago. Three other buildings date back to 1941.

Sandberg said when he first drove up after the storm passed, “I was prepared to find that some of the buildings had washed away to Mexico. I was happy to see that the campus is still there. But we suffered some severe damage, some flooding. Fortunately, the storm surge wasn’t as bad as they expected, but the wind damage was pretty bad.”

A few of the doors and windows blew out on the historic structures, and a kayak shed “essentially blew away and I can’t tell you where it went,” he said. The lanai screen also was ripped away from the Palm House, which serves as the organization’s administrative offices.

Sandberg said everything is fixable and “it’s going to take quick action to make it happen. Our top priority is getting back to habitability. We can’t control when Manasota Key gets power back, but we can take action to make sure the buildings are up to functionality in that time.”

He added that some of the artists who have already been to Hermitage have offered to come down and help.

Read the complete article here.

Adam Gwon and Reggie Harris to Perform at 2022 Artful Lobster

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, now celebrating its 20th Anniversary Season, announced today that Hermitage Fellow Adam Gwon, an acclaimed musical theater composer whose work has been described by The New York Times as “funny and urbane with a sweetness that doesn’t cloy,” will headline the Hermitage’s signature fall fundraising event, “The Artful Lobster: An Outdoor Celebration!” on Saturday, November 12th from 11:30am to 2pm at the Hermitage campus on Manasota Key (Sarasota County, Florida). Gwon is joined by Reggie Harris, a returning Hermitage alumnus, remarkably gifted musician and storyteller, and pillar of the international folk music scene for more than 40 years. Harris will also be presenting a community program at Booker High School as part of the “Hermitage @ Booker” series on Friday, November 4th

Now in its 14th year, the Artful Lobster raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program, supporting the creative process of artists from around the world in the fields of music, theater, visual art, literature, dance, and more. This popular event, which takes place outdoors beneath a large tent on the Hermitage’s beachfront campus, features a lobster feast catered by Michael’s On East, in addition to live performances from renowned Hermitage Fellows. The co-chairs for the 2022 Artful Lobster are Maryann Casey and Elizabeth Moore

A recipient of the Kleban Award, the Fred Ebb Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, and the Frederick Loewe Award, among others, Adam Gwon’s work has been performed on six continents and across the United States at venues such as Roundabout Theatre, Signature Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and more. 

A consummate storyteller and teaching artist, Reggie Harris’ music has regularly topped the folk charts. His skill and charm deliver a message of joy, unity, tolerance, and peace through the powerful medium of live music. 

Hermitage Receives Over $220,000 in Regional and National Grants 

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) has recently received seven significant grants totaling over $220,000 that will support a variety of programs and initiatives, including the impact of Hermitage Fellows in the region, program accessibility, and organizational communications. Grants were received from the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, The Exchange, Florida Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Hermitage received $100,000 from the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation in general operating funds to support community programming and artist impact. “We are incredibly grateful to the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation for believing in our mission and celebrating the work we are doing to both support artists and make an impact in our community,” notes Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “This gift is a powerful vote of confidence in our programming and community outreach – and this grant has already inspired others to support our efforts.” 

The Hermitage was recently awarded a $50,000 Strategic Partnership Grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) to support the Hermitage’s core artist residency program and to once again serve as the Lead Community Sponsor for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Weekend. This is the sixth year of CFSC’s support of this annual celebration, scheduled for April 14-16, 2023. CFSC previously awarded the Hermitage a $4,500 Capacity Building Grant in the spring to support organizational communications software and database infrastructure.

The Venice Endowment and Zoe Anderson Charitable Funds at Gulf Coast Community Foundation(GCCF)provided a $40,000 Arts Appreciation Grant in support of the Hermitage’s mission: to inspire and foster the most influential and culturally consequential art and artists of our time. The Hermitage became one of Gulf Coast’s “Arts Appreciation” grantees in 2021, following multiple years of ongoing support and partnership. 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) renewed its support for the Hermitage with a $10,000 grant. These funds are intended to support the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program.

Additional community program support came from The Exchange, which awarded $5,000 to support “Hermitage North” programming through programs such as “Hermitage @ The Bay.” Florida Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded the Hermitage a $4,850 Community Project Grant in support of its virtual programming series: “Artists and Thinkers: A Creative Conversation.”

Though Hermitage programs are hosted at venues throughout the Gulf Coast region, many of the Hermitage’s artist programs are held on the Hermitage Beach, and a $9,400 grant from the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation will be used to improve beach accessibility for members of the public.

The Hermitage is widely recognized for its national artist residency program and its rapidly expanding community programming, introducing area audiences to some of the world’s leading artists across all disciplines. “As our programs and collaborations continue to evolve and expand throughout our region, we are excited to build bridges to new audiences,” says Sandberg. “We are deeply appreciative for these generous grants from both new and longtime supporters, all of which will allow us to provide more support and resources to the diverse and accomplished Hermitage artists who are making a meaningful and lasting impact in our community.”

Playwright and Screenwriter Madeleine George Receives Hermitage Major Theater Award 

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced today that accomplished playwright and screenwriter Madeleine George, currently a writer on the hit Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building,” has been newly selected as the 2021 recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA). This national jury-selected prize, established by the Hermitage last year with generous support from the Kutya Major Foundation, offers one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country. George will receive a cash prize of $35,000, as well as a residency at the Hermitage (Sarasota County, Florida) and a developmental workshop in a major arts capital such as New York, Chicago, or London in the fall of 2023. Originally awarded in December of 2021 to Radha Blank who is not able to fulfill the commission due to conflicting professional commitments, the inaugural Award Committee reconvened to enthusiastically endorse George – one of four distinguished finalists nominated in the initial process – for this prestigious honor.

Madeleine George’s plays include Hurricane Diane (Obie Award), The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (Pulitzer Prize finalist; Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award), Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Susan Smith Blackburn finalist), Precious Little, and The Zero Hour (Jane Chambers Award, Lambda Literary Award finalist).  Honors include a Whiting Award, the Princess Grace Award, and a Lilly Award. Her translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters premiered at Two River Theater in 2022, and her audio adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For is forthcoming from Audible Originals. Madeleine is a founding member of the Obie Award-winning playwrights’ collective 13P. She is currently a writer and producer on Hulu’s acclaimed mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building, starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez.

“I was surprised and thrilled to get the news about the Hermitage Major Theater Award,” said George on receiving the news from Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “It’s such an honor to be joining in the Hermitage’s awe-inspiring family of artists, and I’m excited to have resources and time to put towards my commissioned play, which has been on my mind for a while and which I’m eager to share with the world.”

The Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) was established in 2021 to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. HMTA winners are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders in the field of theater. The 2021 HMTA Award Committee included Doug Wright, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright, and past president of the Dramatists Guild of America; Leigh Silverman, Tony Award nominee and Obie Award-winning director; and Liesl Tommy, Tony Award nominee and Obie Award-Winning stage and screen director.

Hermitage Announces New Members of National Curatorial Council

Each year, the organization’s esteemed Curatorial Council selects artists of extraordinary ability across multiple disciplines for Hermitage Fellowships. The Hermitage Curatorial Council is comprised of visionary leaders connected to some the most renowned cultural institutions in the world.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat recently announced its 2022-2023 Curatorial Council, comprised of distinguished national arts leaders spanning the fields of theater, music, visual art, literature, and arts education. The newest additions to the Council include award-winning visual and multimedia artist Sanford BiggersNew York Times bestselling author Cathy Park Hong, Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Rajiv Joseph, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun. Sanford Biggers and Du Yun are also Hermitage alumni, with Biggers winning the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2010 – the first awarded in the discipline of visual art.

“We are honored to welcome these visionary leaders to the Hermitage Curatorial Council,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “Sanford Biggers, Cathy Park Hong, Rajiv Joseph, and Du Yun are forward-thinking creative minds with a finger on the pulse, each highly regarded for their unique contributions to their respective fields. The members of this esteemed Curatorial Council share a collective passion for the development and creation of new work from bold and diverse voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to have them in the Hermitage family. With their breadth of experience, their vast networks, and their insightful ability to identify extraordinary talent, we know that the selection of our Fellows could not be in better hands.”

Sanford Biggers was awarded the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2010. His work is an interplay of narrative, perspective, and history that speaks to current social, political, and economic happenings while also examining the contexts that bore them. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often-overlooked cultural and political narratives from American history. Appointed the 2021-2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar in the MIT Department of Architecture, he is also a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of the Rome Prize in Visual Art, and the 2018 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award.  

Cathy Park Hong’s New York Times bestselling book of creative nonfiction, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and earned her recognition on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021” list. She is also the author of poetry collections Engine EmpireDance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Translating Mo’um. Hong is the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is a full professor at Rutgers-Newark University.

Rajiv Joseph’s play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice won the Obie Award for Best New American Play, first in 2016 with Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play) and in 2021 for Describe the Night. Other plays include ArchdukeGruesome Playground InjuriesAnimals Out of PaperThe Lake EffectThe North PoolMr. Wolf, and King James. He is also a member of Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

Du Yun was born and raised in Shanghai, China, and works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theater, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience” (The New Yorker), Du Yun’s second opera, Angel’s Bone (libretto by Royce Vavrek), won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Composition category for her work Air Glow. Her collaborative opera Sweet Land with Raven Chacon (for opera company The Industry) was named the 2021 Best New Opera by the North America Critics Association. Du Yun is a past Hermitage Fellow.

The full National Curatorial Council for the 2022-2023 season, comprised of 13 accomplished and diverse nominating members from across the country, includes: 

Sanford Biggers (visual art), Celebrated Visual and Multimedia Artist, Guggenheim Fellow, Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner

Eric Booth (arts education)International Arts Learning Consultant with Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, LA Philharmonic, Juilliard, and more

Christopher Burney (theater and film), Artistic Director of New York Stage and Film

Daniel Byers (visual art)Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University 

Claire Chase (music) Flutist, Avery Fisher Prize Winner, and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow

Jennifer Clement (literature)President, PEN International 

Kimberly Drew (visual art), Writer, Independent Curator, and Art Influencer

Nataki Garrett (theater), Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Cathy Park Hong (literature), Award-Winning Author and Time’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021”

Rajiv Joseph (theater), Award-Winning Playwright and Screenwriter; Member of Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago

Mitchell Jackson (literature), Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

Terrance McKnight (music) Evening Host of WNYC/WQXR Radio

Du Yun (music)Pulitzer Prize-Winning and Grammy Award-Nominated Composer