Moscow native and celebrated American playwright Samuel Hunter is one of 21 artists, scientists, political activists, writers and filmmakers who make up the 2014 class of MacArthur Foundation Grant recipients.
Often called a “genius grant,” the honor recognizes exceptional individuals doing transformative, creative work with a track record of achievement in their field and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future. Fellows each receive a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000.
Hunter, 33, began writing plays in high school. He honed his craft at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, The Juilliard School, Iowa Playwrights Workshop and by writing a series of award winning plays that explore the cultural landscape of the American West and the divide between our perceptions of sexual orientation and humanity. Many of his plays, such as the Obie Award-winning “A Bright New Boise” and his critically acclaimed “The Whale" have received productions in New York City and at regional theaters across the country.
"I certainly don't sit down and say, 'What can I write about Idaho today?'" Hunter said in an interview for Treasure Magazine in February. "But I keep writing plays set in Idaho, although I don't think there is anything quintessentially Idahoan about them. Of course, I bring who I am to the work, and Idaho is a big part of who I am, both consciously and subconsciously."
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Either way, Hunter's voice out of Idaho — like Sam Shepard’s and August Wilson’s — reflects something about the American West, specifically the Northwest. And right now, it's resonating nationally.