The Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award

inaguaral recipient: Ren Dara Santiago

The honor is presented to an emerging playwright of exceptional work ethic, character, and talent.  

The award takes its name from Cornelia Street in the West Village, which has been home to the work of some of the nation’s greatest playwrights, including Eugene O’Neill, Maria Irene Fornes, Lanford Wilson and John Guare, and was also the location of Caffe Cino, one of the birthplaces of the Off-Off Broadway theatre movement. 

The Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award carries a cash prize of $3,500, and includes publication of one of the playwright’s works in Rising Phoenix Rep’s theatre arts magazine, Caffe Cino.  

“Ren personifies the spirit of this award,” commented Daniel Talbott, Artistic Director of Rising Phoenix Rep. “She is an extraordinary talent, an explosive, infinitely original voice, and a heart-led collaborator. We couldn’t be more honored to have her grace Rising Phoenix Rep’s first award.” 

“Kind, fearless, socially conscious, Ren’s writing is something that gives me faith in the future of American theater,” commented playwright and mentor Lucy Thurber

“Ren Dara Santiago is a dazzling new voice, full of the fire and honesty we need so much in the theater right now. Hurrah!” cheered playwright and mentor Adam Bock

 Ren Dara Santiagois a Fila-Rican playwright from Harlem. Her newest work, Something in the Balete Tree, was written in 2018 with support from Gingold Theatrical Groups’ The Speaker’s Corner, Clubbed Thumb’s Early-Career Writer’s Group, mentor-playwright Erin Courtney, and the Playwriting Mentorship Residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm, where she was mentored by Adam Bock. The Siblings Playhas had development at The Cherry Lane Theatre (Mentor Project), LAByrinth Theater, MCC Theater, Ojai Playwrights Conference, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Her short plays include Little Stories for Cino Nights with Rising Phoenix Repertory; Big Worldfor the Ugly Sister benefit show; and Love & Animation for Middle Voice at Rattlestick’s Gay Brunch 2013. She is a guest teaching artist at The National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, a former Artistic Producer and founding member of Middle Voice at Rattlestick, and an eternal member of The Baldwin Project by Lucy Thurber, who has mentored her since adolescence.