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Theatre Professor James Ijames Awarded National Arts Club Kesselring Prize

Villanova professor, actor, director and playwright earns the 2018 prize for his play, Kill Move Paradise.

James Ijames, Villanova assistant profesor of history

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The National Arts Club has selected James Ijames, MFA, Villanova University assistant professor of Theater, actor, director and playwright, as the recipient of the 2018 Kesselring Prize for his play, Kill Move Paradise. As a winner of this prestigious award, Ijames will receive $25,000 from the Club Kesselring Fund and the chance to have a two-week residency to develop his work at the National Arts Club’s historic clubhouse. A ceremony and reception, which will include staged readings and scenes from Ijames’ plays, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the National Arts Club in New York City.

“I'm really overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Ijames, who received the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention prize for his play, The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington. “I’m incredibly grateful to the Wilma Theater for submitting the play, to the National Arts Club and Kesselring Prize committee. I would be remiss to not say ‘thank you’ to my Villanova community who continue to support my work as a writer and artist.”

Ijames’ Kill Move Paradise is about four black men in a cosmic waiting room that was inspired by the growing number of shootings of unarmed black men and women. In addition to Kill Move Paradise, he has also produced a number of other plays including Moon Man Walk, The Threshing Floor and Osiris: Redux. He has appeared regionally at Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, Baltimore Center Stage and InterAct Theatre Company.

Ijames is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2017, he received the prestigious Whiting Award for Drama and was granted a Pew Fellow Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in California. Ijames He was also a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting and the 2015 winner of the Terrence McNally New Play Award for WHITE. His Barrymore Awards include the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist, awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play (for Superior Donuts and Angels in America) and the 2014 Barrymore for Outstanding Direction of a Play for his work on The Brothers Size.

The Kesselring Prize was established in 1980 by Charlotte Kesselring – widow of noted playwright and Club member Joseph Kesselring – to honor and support as yet not nationally recognized playwrights with an honorarium and indirect support towards development of their work.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.