Monday, March 14, 2016

Finalists Announced for Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award

The American Theatre Critics Association has announced the six finalist plays for this year's Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. This award recognizes the playwrights whose scripts were deemed the best among plays that premiered professionally outside New York City during the previous year.

This 2016 finalists are Steven Dietz for Bloomsday, Samuel D. Hunter for Clarkston, Jen Silverman for The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, Jonathan Norton for Mississippi Goddamn, Lynn Nottage for Sweat, and Qui Nguyen for Vietgone. ATCA offers more detail on the plays:

BLOOMSDAY by Steven Dietz
"Tender, beautiful, and heartbreaking," said one panelist about Dietz's tale of four – well, actually two – characters meeting on the streets of Dublin. A brief encounter between Cathleen, a guide on a tour of locations from James Joyce's Ulysses, and Robbie, an American who never read the book, is complicated and enhanced by visits from their 35-years-later selves. Yes, we've all seen what-might-have-been stories on stage, but in the words of other panelists, this "artful and elegant," "lovely and thoughtful" play with its "slightly supernatural sparkle" had an ending that's "a genuine epiphany."
Bloomsday premiered at ACT Theatre in Seattle.

CLARKSTON by Samuel D. Hunter
"Deftly entwining a love story with a classic tale," according to one panelist, Clarkston, set in a nondescript town in eastern Washington, "expresses the sorrows and yearnings of working class people who have heavy burdens and few options." It's about the bridging of a divide between a pair of Costco employees, one seriously ill. Although one is a distant relationship of Meriwether Lewis, these two are on very different journeys of discovery in this story that is "told simply with no razzmatazz, just quiet power and characters you care about," a panelist commented.
Clarkston premiered at Dallas Theater Center.

A soccer star is drawn back home in search of her lover, who runs a safe house for women, in this "smart, stunning, excellent" play. It is, according to one panelist, "an illuminating political play that uses memorable, flawed characters to tell a powerful and personal story." Another added that the play is "an assured, fascinating window into the abuse of women in South Africa, but also much more – a lyrical love story, a probe of how media can help and hurt when drawing attention to violence, the conundrum of deciding whether to live in a foreign country where you can be safe and prosper or remain at your own peril in your tumultuous native land."
The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane premiered at Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre.

Norton takes us to the house next door to Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers in this drama about a family making tough decisions in a tumultuous time. "He may have used Nina Simone's song as his title, but the play's content isn't borrowed at all," one panelist commented. Others added that the "fast-moving, dramatic, and revelatory" play with a "truly explosive, molten core" includes "nothing PC or sentimental." The play has, according to another, "a raw quality that actually benefits the tense 'desperate hours' scenario of neighbors and families divided by the insidious pressures of racism."
Mississippi Goddamn premiered at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

SWEAT by Lynn Nottage
Disappearing jobs impact a group of friends in a play that features "great storytelling" with "a rich gallery of characters" and "a compelling story arc," according to panelists. In the great tradition of bar-set plays, “One could say Sweat is about the ways the national economy is shifting away from manufacturing jobs. One could also say it's about parents and children, about how skin color separates in ways we can't/don't often articulate, and about how business decisions made by unseen people in power can destroy lives." It's "an extraordinary play" that "grabs at the beginning and packs a wallop in the end."
Sweat premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

VIETGONE by Qui Nguyen
"A sexy comedy about culture-shocked, grieving Vietnamese refugees who fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon? Where everyone is really speaking Vietnamese, but we're hearing it as slangy, cheeky English? I marveled at what this playwright was bringing off," commented one panelist about Vietgone, a very entertaining, fresh tale that slyly reveals its darker contours." Others noted that the play offers "a vivid, specific voice, a wonderful sense of humor and compelling stakes" and that Nguyen "does great things with fine sensibility, language and structure, along with the right mix of lunacy" in style that "is as fresh as the content."
Vietgone premiered at South Coast Repertory.

The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each will be presented April 9th at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. With that $40,000 pool of prizes, the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award is the largest national new play award program.

ATCA has honored new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City since 1977, with the idea that plays performed in New York are eligible for many more awards than those produced regionally, and a spotlight should be given to those plays in the latter group. No play is eligible for the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award if it has gone on to a New York production within the award year. Since 2000, the award has been generously funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Last year the top prize went to Rebecca Gilman for her play Luna Gale. with citations to Lucas Hnath for The Christians and Nathan Alan Davis for Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea. Previous recipients include Adrienne Kennedy, Craig Lucas, Arthur Miller, Marsha Norman, Robert Schenkkan, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson. For a list of all the winners and citation recipients from 1997 to 2014, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment