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Natalie Raybould, Hai-Ting Chinn, and Jeffrey Gavett in Yesterday Tomorrow by Annie Dorsen. Photo: Alexandre Schlub.

Annie Dorsen Receives the Spalding Gray Award

Director and writer Annie Dorsen has won the Spalding Gray Award. The $20,000 commission accompanying the honor will fund her upcoming piece The Slow Room, which is set to premiere in September as part of Performance Space New York’s Posthuman Series.

Dorsen, a visiting professor in theater and performance studies at the University of Chicago, explores the intersection of life and algorithmic processes in her work, which encompasses theater, film, dance, and other media. The Slow Room will investigate the uncertain space between the virtual and the embodied, as well as the possible pitfalls of language itself.

“For my new piece, I’ve been reading Hannah Arendt, in particular what she writes about a culture in which language is corrupted by lies—lies told to create confusion, to distract, to distort, to destabilize, to pollute the public discourse,” says Dorsen. “And her great insight is that in such a culture not only do our public institutions suffer—but even as individuals, even within the privacy of our own minds, we bit by bit lose our capacity for self-reflection, for critical thinking, for imagination. As I try to make sense of what's happening to our country, it seems an urgent mission to keep re-invigorating our language with meaning, to keep our language alive and complex and worthy.”

Dorsen’s ecent projects include the algorithmic work Yesterday Tomorrow, 2015, which premiered at the Holland Festival and has been presented at Berliner Festspiele. In 2017 Ugly Duckling Presse published her script A Piece of Work, and her essays can be found in publications such as Theatre magazine, EtceteraFrakcija, and TDR: The Drama Review. In 2014 she was the recipient of the Herb Alpert Award for the Arts in theater, and in 2016 she won a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award.

Previous recipients of the Spalding Gray Award include Tim Etchells, Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Rabih Mroué, the National Theater of the United States of America, Radiohole, and Heather Woodbury. It will be presented by the Spalding Gray National Consortium; Performance Space New York; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; On the Boards in Seattle; and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

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