‘Star Wars’ actor looks to discover top military or veteran playwright
By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 13, 2017
WIESBADEN, Germany — Aspiring playwrights in or formerly in the military now have thousands of reasons to put their ideas on paper.
Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization of actor Adam Driver — who portrays archvillain Kylo Ren in the latest pair of “Star Wars” films — is putting up a $10,000 prize, known as the Bridge Award, for the best full-length play written by a current or former servicemember, with submissions due before March 1.
“There’s no reason to think that this community doesn’t have anything to say,” Driver said in an interview with the New York Times last month. “Maybe they don’t have access to another way of saying it.”
All full-length, unpublished plays — which need not have a military theme — will be considered by a group of judges that will include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.
In addition to the $10,000 prize, the winner will be able to see their play performed by professional actors next fall, either in New York or on their military base if they are on active duty. The winner will also receive an award at the AITAF Broadway show in November.
More information is available at http://aitaf.org/the-bridge-award/.
Driver, who joined the Marines shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks and served for just under three years before being medically discharged, has long been an ardent supporter of arts in the military. His nonprofit group seeks to bridge the divide between “military and civilian, servicemember and family member, the world of the arts and the world of practical action,” according to its website. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year.
AITAF’s support comes as multiple overseas military theater groups have struggled or shut down since a 2016 cut to their operating budgets.
However, Europe’s annual “Toppers” theater awards show was as vibrant as ever this spring, with dozens of military-affiliated groups from across the Continent represented, Installation Management Command-Europe entertainment chief Dane Winters said.
It seemed like the threat of cuts spurred writers and actors to greater heights, Winters said.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the field this year, but everyone was so energized,” he said.