In an email, excom chair Bill Hirschman gives a comprehensive report on actions taken and contemplated by the new excom elected at the New Orleans conference. Included are calls for recommendations for the Steinberg and Osborn awards, plus news on electronic voting, the Bitter Lemons controversy, printed directory, a call for volunteers, and plans for future conferences in Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco. The full report follows.
Speaking for the ATCA excom, chair Bill Hirschman has said:
“The American Theatre Critics’ Association, the only national organization of professional theater critics, is concerned with the model started by Bitter Lemons. While it does not guarantee a favorable review or allow theater companies to choose the reviewer, this pay-for-play arrangement creates a clear appearance of a conflict of interest. That appearance, even if spurious, undermines the crucial credibility of not only Bitter Lemons’ critics, but all critics.
“Our profession has fought for decades to preserve the image of independence. When our work is put out for sale to those we cover, we are concerned not just for the criticism itself but for the bypassing of editorial judgment in deciding what and what not to cover.”
Follow the active responses @Theatre_Critics (orange section, left-hand column).
ATCA members at the New Orleans conference in March took time between beignets to elect new members to the Executive Committee, and the Excom elected new officers: Bill Hirschman, chair; Brad Hathaway, vice-chair; Barbara Bannon, secretary (continuing); and Mark Lowry, treasurer.
Elected to three-year Excom terms were:
* Brad Hathaway, former Excom member and treasurer, a pioneering cyber journalist, currently working as a freelancer in Sausalito, Calif.
* Edward “Eddy” Rubin, also a former Excom member, currently a freelancer in New York City writing about theater and the fine arts.
* Martha Steketee, general editor at Chance Magazine in New York City and a contributor to HowlRound, TDF Stages, Dramatics and other outlets.
* Filling the remaining term of Myrna Petlicki, who stepped down, is Charles Giuliano, founder, publisher and editor of Berkshirefinearts.com based in Adams, Mass.
Hirschman said, “Our profound gratitude is due departing Excom members Tim Treanor, Michael Howley and Myrna Petlicki, whose loss will be keenly felt because of their extensive behind the scenes service and insightful advice. We sincerely hope they will remain intimately involved with the leadership.”
The 2014 class of the Theatre Hall of Fame was finally induced Monday, May 4, at the Gershwin Theatre. Chosen in 2014 by an electorate made up primarily of ATCA, plus members of the Hall, the ceremony originally scheduled for Jan. 26 had to be postponed because of a Broadway-closing blizzard. The only changes were that the original emcee, Jim Dale, wasn’t available, so had to be replaced by a very capable Pia Lindstrom, and inductee Alvin Epstein couldn’t make the trip, but was inducted by Cherry Jones. The other seven inductees: F. Murray Abraham (presented by Brian Kulick), Blythe Danner (Lynne Meadow), Frank Rich (Rocco Landesman), Susan Stroman (Andre Bishop), Marshall W. Mason (John Lee Beatty), Philip J. Smith (Robert Wankel, pinch-hitting for Bernadette Peters) and Alfred Uhry (Dana Ivey). The audience of some 125 was replete with industry notables.
For a full account of the ceremony, click here.
The Tony Awards Administration Committee has ratified ATCA’s recommendation of the 100 year-old Cleveland Play House for the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, to be conferred during the Tony Awards on June 7.
For the Cleveland Plain Dealer coverage, click here. For the description on the ATCA ballot that garnered the recommendation, click below.
Alan Smason takes a deserved victiory lap in these reminiscences about ATCA’s New Orleans Conference, March 25-29. Click here.
Additional citations to Lucas Hnath and Nathan Alan Davis
M. Elizabeth Osborn Award to Tom Coash
ATCA has selected Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale as the recipient of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2014. Gilman’s shattering play about the moral dilemma facing a social worker received the top award of $25,000 and a commemorative plaque during the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Two Steinberg/ATCA citations that carry $7,500 each were presented to Lucas Hnath’s The Christians and Nathan Alan Davis’ Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program recognizing regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States.
ATCA also presented the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, which recognizes emerging playwrights, to Tom Coash’s Veils. For more about these awards, click here.
NEW ORLEANS - Brad Hathaway (San Francisco Bay area), Martha Steketee (NYC) and Ed Rubin (NYC) were today elected to three-year terms on the ATCA executive committee, and Charles Giuliano to a one-year term. Rubin and Hathaway have been on the excom before; Seketee and Giuliano are newcomers. Welcome aboard!
Coincidentally, on a proposal by Robert Sokol, San Francisco was selected the site for the annual conference in 2017, following Philadelphia in 2016.
NEW ORLEANS - Barry Gaines completed two terms on the executive committee (he continues as ATCA administrator) and was honored with a bust of the supposed author of the plays by the man from Stratford (about whom Barry writes in his day job as an academic). Then New Orleans conference chair Alan Smason was honored with the Conference Hat, encrusted with souvenirs of conferences past, to which he had already added a New Orleans voodoo doll for good luck. He gets to pass it on next year to the chair of the 2016 Philadelphia conference.
NEW ORLEANS - Often-controversial Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss delivered this year’s Perspectives in Criticism lecture, the latest noted speaker in a series going back to 1992 (see the distinguished roster). Lo and behold, she turned out to be a 24x7 workaholic, passionate about her work (like most of us), but a critic whose view of her controversies in a city of passionate opinions is naturally far more anodyne than those who have objected. Her talk was part autobiographical sketch, part a brief discussion of those controversies, which certainly remain lively to an audience of critics who struggle all the time with matters of tone and content. Listen to her here:
NEW ORLEANS - That’s the great divison in New Orleans — post Andrew Jackson, post Civil War, but especially post-Katrina. There’s only one full Equity theater in town, but there’s a active semi-pro (which we’d call it where many of us come from) theater scene, or call it community theater with professional standards, represented with spirit this afternoon by a panel of five: (from left in the picture) Dennis Assaf, A.J. Allegra, Aimee Hayes, moderator Allan Smason, Jim Fitzmorris and Gary Rucker.
NOTE: More about ATCA/New Orleans on Twitter at #ATCA2015 or FB at ATCA American Theatre Critics Association.
NEW ORLEANS — Amid gracious thanks and her incisive, humorous remarks about the playwriting process and some of her own specific experiences, especially on the development of The Nether, Jennifer Haley received the 2014 Primus Prize plaque (she received the $10,000 check last year, when the prize was announced) at this morning’s membership meeting at the ATCA/New Orleans conference. Our congratulations! Her presence here is a gift to us.
(NOTE that the deadline for nominations for the 2015 Primus Prize — self-nominations included — is April 30.)
The 2015 ATCA conference opened yesterday with food, music, a Hirschfield exhibit, the swirl of the French Quarter and, oh yes, even some warm-hearted theater (all after a day of travel for most of us), and your correspondent, who ended up in the wee hours with the traditional beignets and coffee, is now trying to drag himself down to the morning ATCA meeting. More to come! (You might also check the FB page.)
ATCA has selected six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2014. The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented April 11 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program of its kind.
The finalists, alphabetically by playwright: Tom Coash, Veils; Nathan Alan Davis, Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea; Rebecca Gilman, Luna Gale; Lucas Hnath, The Christians; Caitlin Parrish, The Downpour; Richard Strand, Butler.
For fuller descriptions of the plays and the history of the Steinberg/ATCA Award, click below.