Eady's 'Imagination' is Oppy Award Winner

"Brutal Imagination," a play by Corneluis Eady, about the infamous Susan Smith and the trumped-up black man she claimed had kidnapped her children, won the 2002 Oppenheimer Award (known as the Oppy).

The Oppy is named after the late playwright and Newsday critic George Oppenheimer, and is awarded annually by the paper to the year's most impressive New York debut of an American playwright.

"Brutal Imagination" was given its world premiere production last winter Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St.) in Manhattan. Eady's play, which was directed by Diane Paulus and starred Joe Morton and Sally Murphy, brought to life the imaginary African-American Smith alleged had absconded with her children in 1994 when in actuality she had drowned them herself.

Eady is an award-winning poet who recently began writing for the theatre. He previously collaborated with Diedre Murray on the musicals "Running Man" and "You Don't Miss Water," which also had its debut at the Vineyard.

Since "Brutal Imagination" is Eady's first play, it was eligible for the Oppy, which does not consider musicals.

The Oppy selection committee is comprised of playwrights Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, James Lapine, and Richard Greenberg, along with Newsday chief drama critic Linda Winer, entertainment editor Cheryl Kushner, and former Newsday staffers Alan Wallach and Sylviane Gold.

Newsday publisher Raymond A. Jansen will present the award, which includes a $5,000 prize, to Eady at a ceremony on Nov. 11.