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Shayok Misha Chowdhury & Laura Grill Jaye
Win the Inaugural Relentless Musical Award


Largest cash prize in American theater presented to their musical 
How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia

(December 22, 2022 – New York, NY)

The American Playwriting Foundation (David Bar Katz, Founding Artistic Director) and Building for the Arts (David J. Roberts, President) have announced that Shayok Misha Chowdhury and Laura Grill Jaye, professionally known as Grill and Chowder, have won the Relentless Musical Award for their new musical How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia. As the creators of the winning submission, Grill and Chowder will receive $65,000, the largest cash prize in American theater presented to an unproduced work, as well as opportunities to have How the White Girl… developed at various theatrical institutions, including a series of staged readings at Theatre Row.


The annual Relentless Award, created in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman, is presented this year to a musical submission in honor of Adam Schlesinger, an Academy & Tony-nominated and Emmy & Grammy-winning songwriter who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Schlesinger had served as an artistic advisor during the creation of the Relentless Award in 2015.


“The Relentless Award’s purpose is not just to honor Phil’s and Adam’s legacies, but to extend them through the launching of new works selected through the lens of their artistic sensibilities,” said David Bar Katz, leader of the Selection Committee. “Our judges, including Rachel Bloom, Sam Hollander, Brontez Purnell, Stephin Merrit and Lynn Nottage, come together through this award to uplift artists whose work embodies Adam’s and Phil’s fearlessness, passion, humor and relentless commitment to truth in art.”


In How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia, a White Girl's smooth white life in Suburbia is interrupted by an unexpected scar on her shoulder. A Brown Spot. In this musical automythography, told through a series of Kipling-esque creation myths, Grill and Chowder wade through a swamp of discarded tamagotchis, Abercrombie clippings, and soggy pogs in search of a history that holds them, even when they’d rather it let them go.


Together, Grill and Chowder have written musicals about the physics of light, the Armenian Genocide, boys who eat dirt, 19th century coalminers, and the book of Genesis. Their work has been seen or developed at Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and NYMF. How the White Girl Got Her Spots and Other 90s Trivia is their unabashedly nostalgic ode to the 90s, growing up gay, and the messiness of cultural memory.


The winner and finalists of the Relentless Musical Award were selected by a panel of judges including Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Lynn Nottage (Clyde’s), Thomas Bradshaw (When They See Us), David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”), Sam Hollander (“Ordinary Joe”), Brontez Purnell (“100 Boyfriends”) and Stephin Merrit (The Magnetic Fields).


The 2022 Relentless Musical Award Selection Committee has also recognized three finalists:


  • Hills On Fire

By Coyote Joe Stevens and Keaton Wooden

A musical ghost story about the opioid crisis in Appalachia, this folk tale follows the Stray family as they attempt to overcome poverty and escape the ghosts that haunt them in their fiery Rust Belt town. Will they survive or will the town swallow them whole?


  • Shoot for the Moon

By David Gomez and John-Michael Lyles

Shoot for the Moon explores a forbidden gay love affair between Mercy Wheatley, an up-and-coming Black prizefighter, and Federico García Lorca, a celebrated Spanish poet who is studying abroad at Columbia University. As they fall in love against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance, they're forced to overcome cultural barriers, the cut-throat boxing world, and Mercy's impending wedding to Sarah Jeffries. It's a sweaty, sexy, and surreal musical that will leave you wondering: how hard would you fight for love?


  • XY

By Oliver Houser

Chris can’t shake the past. It follows him everywhere he goes, staring back strangely when he looks in the mirror. When Chris falls in love, the line between then and now begins to blur. XY follows the journey of an intersex man as he navigates a lifetime full of “firsts.” A musical drama about reconciling the past and embracing the present, XY is a powerful and timely story about our desire to be seen.


The Relentless Award selects finalists from several thousand submissions using blind evaluation, keeping the writers’ identities, gender, race, etc. completely anonymous throughout the process. Approximately 80% of Relentless Finalists have been women.


The American Playwriting Foundation, established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman and his relentless pursuit of truth in the theater, has presented the Relentless Award annually to a playwright in recognition of a new work. In its mere eight years, the Relentless Award has become the most impactful award in theater in terms of launching some of theater’s brightest new artists who are revitalizing the American stage: Obie Award-winner Aleshea Harris, whose plays have been produced non-stop since her Relentless win; Clare Barron, whose winning play Dance Nation went on to become a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; Harrison David Rivers, whose play The Bandaged Place is up now at Roundabout Theater Company; and Sarah DeLappe, whose play The Wolves has received over 500 productions.


Building for the Arts (BFA) expands access to the performing arts by providing creative space, learning opportunities, and hubs for artistic connection. BFA’s signature projects – Theatre Row, Music and the Brain, and the American Playwriting Foundation– nurture artists, audiences, and youth with a focus on accessibility and inclusion.

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