Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oddfellows to Honor Christopher Shinn

Oddfellows Playhouse’s Board of Directors will recognize 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist Christopher Shinn with the organization’s 1st Distinguished Alumni Award. The presentation will be made on Thursday June 17th at Oddfellows Playhouse’s 35th Birthday Gala Celebration at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland, CT. The evening will also feature a live and silent auction to raise $40,000 for Oddfellows Playhouse’s scholarship program.

Christopher Shinn, one of America’s most exciting young playwrights, began his playwrighting career when he won a statewide competition held by Oddfellows Playhouse for his play, Safety. Chris was involved at Oddfellows during his sophomore and senior years of high school. When asked how the Oddfellows program shaped his path, Shinn said, “I had never written a play before when I first learned about the [Oddfellows] competition— I don't think I would have written one had it not existed. By the time I reached my senior year, I was already planning to go to college to study playwriting. So in just a few short years I went from not even imagining writing a play to deciding it was what I wanted to do with my life.” This is how participation in Oddfellows Playhouse changes young people’s lives. Shinn went on to attend NYU and study playwrighting under the award-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America Parts 1&2).

Since completing school, Shinn has enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he was nominated for an Olivier Award as Most Promising Playwright and in 2008 his play Now or Later was produced at London’s Royal Court Theatre. In 2008, Shinn was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his play Dying City, which was also produced by Hartford Stage last year. Most recently, his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler premiered on Broadway at the Roundabout (American Airlines Theatre) starring Mary Louise Parker (Weeds, Fried Green Tomatoes) in the title role. Currently Shinn lives in New York City where he writes and teaches playwrighting at The New School.

Oddfellows’ Board of Directors will present the award to Shinn at the 35th Birthday Gala Celebration taking place on Thursday June 17th at St. Clement’s Castle. The event, sponsored by Pratt & Whitney, Liberty Bank, Centerplan Companies, Citizens Bank, the Community Health Center, Inc, Middlesex Hospital and Young’s Printing, will feature a live and silent auction to raise $40,000 needed for scholarships for Oddfellows’ theatrical programs for low & moderate income youth, so Oddfellows can continue to shape and change the lives of Connecticut’s youth.

Tickets are available by emailing 35gala@oddfellows.org or calling 860-347-6143.

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