Alumni Triumph at Dramatists Guild and Lilly Awards Joint Ceremony

BY Felix van Kann, August 18, 2020

Two Columbia alumni received recognition at the Dramatists Guild and Lilly Awards unprecedented virtual joint ceremony last month. Dramaturgy alumna Jillian Walker '17 received The Stacey Mindich ‘Go Work in Theater' Award as part of the Lilly Awards, while alumna Kia Corthron '92 took home the Flora Roberts Award from the Dramatists Guild in recognition of her previous work and encouragement of future endeavors. Associate Professor and Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage served as one of the presenters of the award.


Many recipients, including Corthron, had been announced prior to the ceremony; Walker’s Lilly Award win however, which honors women in the industry, was announced during the ceremony’s lifestream. Walker also recently received the Bret Adams & Paul Reisch Foundation Grant


Jillian Walker writes and performs sacred texts for the theatre. Her work has taken the form of plays, musicals, lecture-sermon-concert gatherings, and self-reflective space for remembrance and liberation. Some of her work(ings) include SKiNFoLK: An American Show, co-presented by The Bushwick Starr and National Black Theatre (NY Times Critics’ Pick, Kilroys List), Sarah’s Salt, and Songs of Speculation. Walker is currently co-conspiring with The TEAM as a writer/performer on Reconstruction, and Soho Rep., where she is the 2020-21 Tow Playwright-in-Residence. 


Kia Corthron’s plays have premiered in New York at Playwrights Horizons, NY Theatre Workshop, the Atlantic, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre; in London at the Royal Court Theatre and Donmar Warehouse; and across the US Awards include the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, USArtists Jane Addams Fellowship, McKnight National Residency, Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, and others. Her debut novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter won the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. TV: The Jury, The Wire. Dramatists Guild Council member, New Dramatists alumnus.

The Lillys began in the Spring of 2010 as The Lilly Awards, an outlet to honor the work of women in the American theater. The founders are: Julia Jordan, Marsha Norman, and Theresa Rebeck. The organization is named for Lillian Hellman, a pioneering American playwright who famously said “You need to write like the devil and act like one when necessary.” The Lillys have expanded its initiatives since its conception, celebrating, supporting, and advocating for women theater artists by promoting gender parity at all levels of theatrical production.


The Flora Roberts Award was established 20 years ago in the name of the celebrated agent famous for championing plays and playwrights. It is administered by the Dramatists Guild Foundation and is presented annually to a dramatist in recognition of distinguished work in the theatre and to encourage the continuation of that work.