And the Viv Goes to...
...theatre faculty member Cassandra Medley.
At a ceremony at the Harlem Stage last fall, Medley accepted the 2006 August Wilson Playwriting Award for her play "Relativity." The Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards-known as "Vivs"-are given for excellence in black theatre.
"Relativity," which was performed last spring at Ensemble Studio Theatre's First Light Festival in New York, addresses the interaction of science and race.
In the play, a young black scientist named Claire must choose between her white boyfriend and her mother, who is a devotee of "melanin science"-a pseudo-science positing that those with melanin pigmentation are genetically superior to the "non-melanated." During her research, Medley was surprised to discover that some of her peers accepted melanin theory as fact.
The subject matter posed a challenge at first. "I couldn't think of how I was going to bring this together," Medley said. "I couldn't find the drama of this scientific material."
Luckily, she did, and the play ultimately "stretched me beyond the types of characters I was used to writing and the types of stories I was used to telling," she said.