Kristi Henderson
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

KU professor receives emerging playwright award

Thu, 04/19/2012

Darren M. Canady

LAWRENCE - A professor of English at the University of Kansas has been recognized by a national association as one of the top emerging playwrights.

The American Theatre Critics Association has named assistant professor Darren M. Canady the winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award, in recognition of his play “Brothers of the Dust.” The award will be presented to him at the association’s conference in June in Chicago.

The Osborn Award is meant to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature. “Brothers of the Dust” will be included in the Best Plays Theater Yearbook, and Canady will receive a $1,000 cash prize funded by the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association. The award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn.

“Brothers of the Dust” premiered in May 2011 at Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago and was directed by Daniel Bryant. The play “looks at a farm family in 1958 Arkansas: the brother who stayed to work the land and is discouraging his son from attending college, the wastrel whose entrepreneurial dreams imploded, and the poet pursuing a writing career in Chicago. As secrets emerge, the potential for discovery of oil on the family homestead pits each against the other in a clash of values.”

Canady has described the play as being rooted in his own family history.

“I grew up hearing, seeing and listening to family stories that were only told if they could be performed with as much blood, life, exuberance and expressiveness as possible,” he said. “Many of these stories grew out of personal journeys experienced against the backdrop of Jim Crow, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement… [I] find myself consistently returning to investigations of family, history and social change in the ever-changing landscape of the American Heartland.”

Currently an assistant professor in the University of Kansas’ English department, Canady holds a B.A. in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.F.A. from the Tisch School of the Arts and an Artists’ Diploma from the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights program. He has held residencies at America-in-Play, the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His work has been recognized with the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award from the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Juilliard.

The Department of English is in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas. The College is the largest and broadest academic unit at KU. Nearly two-thirds of KU students pursue degrees from the College, which offers dozens of diverse majors in natural sciences and mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, international and interdisciplinary studies, and the arts.

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