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Ngozichukwuka Anyanwu and Marlow Wyatt are among 10 finalists announced for the inaugural HUMANITAS/CTG Playwriting Prize by Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company. More than 200 play submissions (which took place during June) were received by CTG, which manages programming seasons at three venues: Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center; and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

The partnership between HUMANITAS and CTG, as part of the program PLAY LA, supports the best new, unproduced play by emerging or mid-career playwrights based in Southern California. The winning playwright will receive a $5,000 cash prize and $5,000 will be given to a local theatre to subsidize a world premiere production. Additionally, two runners-up will be awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

The works of Anyanwu and Wyatt celebrate girl power with Good Grief and SHE, respectively.

Good Grief follows Nkechi, a first-generation Nigerian girl whose misadventures consist of love, loss and growing up. Anyanwu is the founder and artistic director of the 1st Generation Nigerian Project. The actress, writer and producer also is co-artistic director of NOW AFRICA’s Playwrights Festival. She holds an MFA in acting from University of California, San Diego. Anyanwu will direct She Gon’ Learn by Lisa Rosetta Strum at the Obie Award-winning The Fire This Time Festival, which will run Jan. 18 through Feb. 6, in New York.

SHE tells the story of a young girl who discovers the small town she desperately wants to flee is filled with the very people who give her wings to fly. Wyatt, a Kansas City native and magna cum laude graduate of Howard University, is a two-time recipient of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Discretionary Grant. Her other works include: Living the Dream; Our Music, Our Spirit, Our Gospel; Blue Diamond Daddies; and Li’l Easy. After volunteering with the Los Angeles School District, Wyatt developed The Girl Blue Project in 2003. The empowerment program for teen girls uses performing arts to combat images of overly sexualized girls, violence, drug use, discrimination, poverty, and sexual and physical abuse.

According to the HUMANTIAS Prize website, the plays will be developed with CTG’s literary staff, led by CTG’s Director of New Play Development Pier Carlo Talenti, and presented in professional readings Feb. 12-14, at Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of a weekend celebration of new plays.

In fulfilling its mission to “change the world one story at a time,” the HUMANITAS Prize was created in 1974 “to honor film and television writers whose work explores the human condition in a nuanced, meaningful way which, ultimately, inspires compassion, hope and understanding in the human family.” HUMANITAS, founded by Father Ellwood Kieser (1929-2000), believes film and television writers have enormous power to break down the separating walls of ignorance, racism and hatred. The organization, under the leadership of President Ali LeRoi (“Everybody Hates Chris”, “Are We There Yet?”), exists to find common humanity by exploring the hopes and fears of diverse human beings.

The HUMANITAS/CTG Playwriting Prize awardees will be announced at the annual HUMANITAS dinner Monday, Jan. 11, at the Directors Guild.

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