EXCLUSIVE: The 2017 Yale Drama Series Prize has been awarded to Jacqueline Goldfinger for her play Bottle Fly. The work was chosen by London-based playwright Nicholas Wright (A Human Being Died That Night) and is to be given a staged reading in November at the National Theatre Studio.

Now in its eleventh year, the award comes with a stipend of $10,000 and is determined in  cooperation with Yale University Press. It’s solely sponsored by the David Charles Horn Foundation and given out annually for a play by an emerging playwright, selected by a judging panel of one distinguished contemporary playwright.

Jacqueline Goldfinger
Azuka Theater

In addition to the money, the prize includes publication of the winning play by Yale University Press and a staged professional reading. The Yale Drama Series is an annual international open submission competition for emerging playwrights who are invited to submit original, unpublished, full-length, English language plays for consideration.

This year’s runners-up are Andrew Rosendorf for Cottontail and Carla Grauls for Natives.

Bottle Fly was the first full play that I wrote after having children,” Goldfinger says. “It was only possible because Yaddo and the Sustainable Arts Foundation blessed me with (baby free) time to spin a story from family lore. I found myself reflecting on the stories that I’d been told growing up, and those I would choose to tell my children. I was also inspired by Octavio Solis’ family drama, Lydia, as well as by the disappearing Everglades culture, which is being overrun by asphalt highways, spendthrift retirees and other forms of  ‘progress.’ ” Goldfinger’s Southern Gothic play The Arsonists has just begun performances at Philadelphia’s Azuka Theatre.

“Set in a bar in the Everglades, Jacqueline Goldfinger’s Bottle Fly brings together a rich variety of American classes, cultures, heritages and desires,” said Wright, who chose Bottle Fly from over 1,000 submissions from 45 countries. “Its voice is passionate and straight-from-the-heart; the world it shows us is earthy, cruel and hilarious; the story at its core is one of profound and reckless love.”

Francine Horn, president of the David Charles Horn Foundation, said, “Spending my winters now in Florida not far from the Everglades, it was surprising that we would have a winner and a runner-up, Bottle Fly and Cottontail, both writing on its dying cultures, bleakness and the need to escape this wilderness.”