Credit Geordie Wood for The New York Times
Since 2008, Arts in the Armed Forces has existed as a kind of matchmaker for members of the military and the theater community, inviting renowned playwrights, actors and directors to perform for, interact with and, hopefully, enrich patrons who may be better equipped for literal minefields than emotional ones. Now, a new award from the organization will aim to help a service member produce a play of his or her own.
The organization announced the inaugural Bridge Award on Monday, granting $10,000 to a playwright who has served in the military for the production of a new play. The announcement was made during the group’s annual Broadway fund-raising event, which this year featured a reading of “Jesus Hopped the A Train” led by Laurence Fishburne and John Leguizamo.
“We’re reaching out to cadets, current servicemen and women, veterans and providing a space” where they can tap into their inner scribe, Adam Driver, founder of Arts in the Armed Forces and a star of “Girls” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said by telephone last week. “The military has acronyms for acronyms that can explain everything, but when it comes to explaining an experience, a post-traumatic experience, there’s not a lot of opportunities.”
Mr. Driver, who served in the Marine Corps before attending Juilliard to study acting, said he hoped the award would encourage current and former service members to give voice to their individual experiences — and help dispel preconceptions about the cultural sophistication, or appetite, of those who join the military.
The winner will be chosen by a judge, the playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks, from a list of finalists selected by a panel of special guest readers.
“There’s no reason to think that this community doesn’t have anything to say,” Mr. Driver said. “Maybe they don’t have access to another way of saying it.”