Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2016 
Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 12:43AM
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Additional $7,500 citations go to Steven Dietz and Jen Silverman

ATCA has selected Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” as the winner of the 2015 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2015. Qui Nguyen

This “sexy comedy about culture-shocked, grieving Vietnamese refugees who fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon” features “a vivid, specific voice, a wonderful sense of humor and compelling stakes,” said the judges. “Vietgone” premiered at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California.

Two citations that carry $7,500 awards were presented to Steven Dietz’ “Bloomsday,” which premiered at ACT Theatre in Seattle, and Jen Silverman’s “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane,” which premiered at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company. 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.

Dietz’s play is “lovely and thoughtful,” with a “slightly supernatural sparkle” about two people meeting on the streets of Dublin, visited by their 35-years-later selves. Silverman’s play is a “lyrical love story” that “uses memorable, flawed characters to tell a powerful and personal story” about the abuse of women in South Africa. Steven Dietz

The winners were selected from 28 eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal/IBJ.com.

“It isn’t just a privilege, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to experience the work of these theater artists and to passionately debate with such learned colleagues,” said committee chair Harry. “These are plays the American theatre can take great pride in — plays that deserve long lives and multiple productions.” Jen Silverman

In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. Since 2000, the award has been generously funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Since the inception of ATCA’s New Play Award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Donald Margulies, Lynn Nottage, Moises Kaufman and Craig Lucas. Last year’s honoree was Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale.” For a full list of 39 years of winners and runners-up, click here

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife. In support of the American theater, it has provided grants totaling millions of dollars for new productions of American plays and educational programs for those who may not ordinarily experience live theater.

ATCA was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of critics’ functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theater critics, with members working in print, on radio and television and websites, ATCA is affiliated with the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide. 

ATCA also administers the $10,000 Francesca Primus Prize, funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, honoring contributions to the American theater by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence, and it awards the Osborn Award to an emerging playwright. Annually, ATCA makes a recommendation for the Regional Theater Tony Award presented by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League and votes on inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Other ATCA New Play Committee members are Kathleen Allen, freelance (Tucson, AZ); Misha Berson, Seattle Times; Bruce Burgun, freelance (New Orleans, LA.); Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, WI); Evans Donnell, Nashvilleartscritic.com (Nashville, TN); Pam Harbaugh, BrevardCulture.com, florida.theatreonstage.com (Indialantic, FL); Michael P. Howley, theatremontgomery.blogspot.com (Montgomery, AL); Erin Keane, culture editor, Salon.com (Louisville, KY); Jerry Kraft, www.SeattleActor.com (Port Angeles, Wash.); Mark Lowry, TheaterJones.com, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas, TX); Julius Novick, veteran critic and professor (New York City); Marjorie Oberlander, freelance (New York City); Kathryn Osenlund, CurtainUp, Phindie (Philadelphia); Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, Va); Frank Rizzo, Variety (New Haven, CT); David Sheward, ArtsinNY.com, Theaterlife.com, CulturalWeekly.com (Jackson Heights, NY); Martha Wade Steketee, Howlround.com, TDF Stages, UrbanExcavations.com (New York, NY); Herb Simpson, artesmagazine.com, totaltheater.com (Geneseo, N.Y.); and Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing, CVNC.org (Charlotte, NC).

For more information on the Steinberg/ATCA Award, contact Wm. F. Hirschman, ATCA chair (954-478-1123), or Lou Harry, New Plays Committee chair (317-472-5202).

Article originally appeared on American Theatre Critics Association (http://americantheatrecritics.org/).
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