Monday, April 13, 2015

Rebecca Gilman's LUNA GALE Wins Steinberg/ATCA New Play Prize

Every year, the American Theatre Critics Association pairs with the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust to hand out awards to playwrights with new work that premiered professionally outside New York City during the previous year. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards give the winning playwrigths a total of $40,000, making this "the largest national new play award recognizing regional theaters."

Rebecca Gilman
This year, Rebecca Gilman was the big winner, with a $25,000 check presented along with a commemorative plaque for Luna Gale, which premiered in early 2014 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre under the direction of Robert Falls. The Goodman called this "powerful and arresting" story about an overworked social worker faced with a custody choice between teenage drug addict parents and a religious zealot grandparent "an unforgettable tale of faith and forgiveness"in their promotional materials, while The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones named it to his Best of 2014 List and Time Out Chicago's Kris Vires lauded it as Pulitzer Prize worthy material.

When she accepted the award, Gilman noted that the Goodman is her theatrical home. She is the author of Spinning into Butter and Boy Gets Girl, both commissioned and originally produced at the Goodman. Gilman has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Harper Lee Award, The Scott McPherson Award, The Prince Prize for Commissioning New Work, The Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, The Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, The George Devine Award, The Theatre Masters Visionary Award, The Great Plains Playwright Award and an Illinois Arts Council playwriting fellowship. Boy Gets Girl was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Play, while The Glory of Living was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Gilman is currently an artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre as well as associate professor of playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University.

Additional $7500 citations went to Lucas Hnath's The Chistians, which premiered at last year's Humana Festival, and Nathan Alan Davis's Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, part of the New Play Network' Rolling World Premiere Program with productions at the Skylight Theatre Company and Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble in Los Angeles and the Washington DC Source Theater Festival.

The Christians took a theatrical look at issues of faith in contemporary mega-churches, posing hard questions with no easy answers, while Dontrell examined a young man's attempt to connect with his roots by researching an ancestor who chose to die drowning in the ocean rather than arrive on American shores as a slave.

Since its inception, the Steinberg New Play Award has singled out and honored playwrights like Arthur Miller, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson. Lauren Gunderson took the top prize last year for her play I and You. For the complete list of winners and runners-up, click here.

For more information on the Steinberg/ATCA Award, contact William F. Hirschman, outgoing chair of the ATCA New Play Committee, at

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