The annual National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn., just finished its first year under Chris Jones (Chicago Tribune). Known for years as a “boot camp for critics,” NCI has broadened its subject to theater writing. Word is that Jones brought fresh energy to the intensive program, proving a worthy successor to NCI founder Ernie Schier (1968-1998) and Dan Sullivan(1999-2013). Foundation ATCA supports NCI with an annual scholarship, this year $2,000.
After 22 happy years of ATCA membership, Pat Feldhaus, who reviewed for various Northern California dailies, has retired. “Thank you for all my good times,” she says, especially ATCA conferences (including London, 1995), at which she would write and perform a song about the event. She also used her IATC card to write about plays around the world, but at 85, she finds travel difficult. “I’ve done all the things I’ve wanted to.”
*Added June 9: Here’s a video of Signature’s Tony Award acceptance speech, nicely including ATCA.*
The Tony Awards Administration Committee announced April 28 that the 2014 Regional Theatre Award will go to New York’s Signature Theatre, based on the recommendation of ATCA, which makes its choice through a confidential internal process of proposals and balloting. We are delighted our recommendation was accepted, as it has been every year since the award was instituted at ATCA’s suggestion in 1976. The award will be presented along with the other Tonys on June 8. Award announcement here; previous winners here. The award includes a grant of $25,000.
In its 40th year, ATCA is financially stable and looking to reach out to new critics. New officers elected, new programs planned, new thinking at Foundation ATCA. This fall, New York; next year, New Orleans; the year after, Moscow … uh, Philadelphia.
With two new members, the new excom meets on the afternoon of April 5. In full view (right): Jonathan Abarbanel, Myrna Petlicki, Erin Keane.
That night, a brief appearance is made by a sheetcake honoring ATCA’s 40th birthday (born in 1974): (at the left) from left, chair Abarbanel; Osborn Prize winner Topher Payne; former chair and Foundation president Jay Handelman; Foundation board member Glenn Loney; former chair Chris Rawson.
Louisville, KY, April 5, 2014 — ATCA has named Lauren Gunderson’s I and You recipient of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2013.
Gunderson’s delicate but droll play about teenagers exploring life and death received $25,000 and a commemorative plaque at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville on April 5.
Two citations that carry $7,500 each were presented to Christopher Demos-Brown for Fear Up Harsh and Martin Zimmerman for Seven Spots on the Sun.
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.
Louisville, KY — ATCA members today selected New Orleans as the site for the 2015 national conference, next spring, to be chaired by member Alan Smason.
The executive committee re-elected Jonathan Abarbanel chair, along with Tim Treanor vice-chair; Barbara Bannon and Kerry Reid were named secretary and treasurer.
The “convention hat,” laden with memorabilia from conferences past (including a bottle of Drama Critics Beer from the 1998 Denver conference), which had been bestowed on Treanor at the end of the CATF conference he chaired last summer, was duly passed along to Abarbanel, chair of this conference at the Humana Festival.
He insisted it be shared with Louisville critc Erin Keane.
ATCA today honored long-time theater critic, playwright and citizen of the theater, Ira J. Bilowit, naming him a Member Emeritus. This doesn’t mean he’s doing any less, simply that he’s done so much, both for criticism and ATCA, and in fact he will co-chair ATCA’s weekend conference in New York this fall. (For a video interview with Ira from 2009, click here.) Ira joins other ATCA emeritii: Tish Dace, Lawrence DeVine, Marianne Evett, Welton Jones and Julius Novick. (For other, former ATCA emeritii, click here and scroll down.)
Louisville, KY — Elected today to 3-years terms on the ATCA executive committee were Erin Keane of Louisville and Lou Harry of Indianapolis. They succeed Brad Hathaway of Sausalito and Eddie Rubin of New York. Wendy Rosenfield of Philadelphia was re-elected to a second term.
Louisville, KY — For the first time, a playwright was invited to give the Perspectives in Criticism talk that has been a feature of 33 ATCA gatherings since 1992. A few snippets of her lively remarks, engagingly delivered, which will continue to stimulate discussion throughout the conference:
“I am a playwright and you are a room full of critics and that is not awkward at all. Not at all… .
“… any review that encourages audiences to see the play for themselves is a good review to me … .
“I can tell you that more than being disliked, playwrights fear being misunderstood … .
“I can tell you that reviews of new plays are powerful forces in that play’s future … .
“I can tell you that people outside of our towns read reviews to decide whether or not they’re going to even read the play… .
“Rolling World Premieres save lives… . “
Louisville, KY — Tim Treanor, chair of ATCA’s professional development committee, today announced a new program for peer mentoring to the annual ATCA conference, meeting at the Humana Festival. Members will offer themselves as mentors and, after a few weeks to set up the mechanism, other members will be invited to send three pieces of work for in-depth assessment. Connections will be made by the ATCA administrator. Mentor, mentee or both may remain anonymous, as they choose. Fuller guidelines will be announced shortly.
Louisville, KY — For the full text of Jonathan Abarbanel’s welcoming remarks, sketching the state of the organization and outlining the work ahead, click below.
ATCA’s 2014 annual conference runs today through Sunday (April 2-6) at Actors Theatre of Louisville, but ATCA meetings the first two days will quickly yield to the Humana Festival of New American Plays, the premiere such festival in the country. On this, its final weekend, it attracts an audience especially thick with theater professionals. We’ll announce the Steinberg/ATCA awards on Saturday. The partying is also great. Maybe we’ll have a minute or two to post some notes along the way.
Longtime ATCA member Jay Stanley, who loved theatre, threw lavish parties for celebrity friends, broke taboos and established his own Marquee Awards, died March 8, 2014. He was 84. Click here for an obituary.