ATCA

The American Theatre Critics Association, Inc. is the only national association of professional theatre critics. Our members work for newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and on-line services across the United States. Membership is open to any writer who regularly publishes substantive pieces reviewing or otherwise critically covering theater.

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Join Us on Twitter: @theatre_critics and @atca_member
Member Blogroll
David Dow Bentley III is the thepeoplescritic.com, which can also be read at the Houston Chronicle and broadwaystars.com.

Nancy Bishop is editor and publisher of Third Coast Review, a Chicago-centric arts and culture website. You can read her reviews there and her pop culture writing here.

Lindsay Christians is a full-time arts and food writer for The Capitol Times in Madison, Wisconsin. She has written theater reviews there since 2008.

David Cote blogs, reports on theater and reviews Broadway, Off and Off-Off productions for Time Out New York and davidcote.com.

Harry Duke covers theatre throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His essays and reviews can be found on the For All Events website and in the Sonoma County Gazette.

Sandi Durell is publisher, editor, and a critic at Theater Pizzazz which covers Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theater, including openings, red carpets events, and interviews.

Michael Grossberg  writes on theater, comedy and the arts in Theater Talk, for the Columbus Dispatch.

Jay Handelman writes  News, reviews and opinion for the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Pam Harbaugh’s blog, Brevard Culture, offers reviews, commentary and links in arts and culture primarily for residents of Brevard County and the Orlando area.   

Lou Harry  writes Lou Harry’s A&E: opinion, debate and discussion on arts and entertainment for the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Bill Hirschman is editor, chief critic and reporter for Florida Theater On Stage.

Chris Jones writes reviews, interviews and commentary for Theater Loop at the Chicago Tribune.

Aaron Krause is the editor of Theatrecriticism.com, founded by Alan Smason (Steppin’ Out, WYES-TV), which offers original theatre reviews and republishes current critical print works online.

David Lefkowitz publishes the theater website TotalTheater.com, co-publishes the theater journal Performing Arts Insider, and reviews on his weekly radio show, Dave’s Gone By.

Jack Lyons covers the theatre scene for the Desert Local News. Jack is based in Desert Hot Springs and covers the entire Coachella Valley and the rest of Southern California including select productions in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and San Diego.

Katherine Luck writes news and reviews of theatre in Seattle, Portland, and around the Puget Sound at Pacific NW Theatre.

Jonathan Mandell reviews Broadway, Off-Broadway and independent theater productions, and covers theater for a variety of publications, including Playbill and American Theatre Magazine.  He blogs at New York Theater and Tweets as @NewYorkTheater.

Andrew McGibbon writes Theatre Opinion, News and Information in TheAndyGram, based in NYC.

Kathryn Osenlund reviews Philadelphia theater productions and some New York theater festivals for www.curtainup.com. She also writes for www.Phindie.com —independent coverage of Philadelphia and arts, and tweets as @theatrendorphin.

Rick Pender edits   The Sondheim Review, a quarterly dedicated to the musical theatre’s foremost composer and lyricist.

Christopher Rawson is the senior critic (part-time) for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and also appears regularly on KDKA-TV.

Wendy Rosenfield covers drama, onstage and off, in Drama Queen and the Philadelphia Inquirer

Michelle F. Solomon is a critic, reviewing professional theater and professional touring productions, for Florida Theater On Stage and miamiartzine.com.

Martha Wade Steketee writes reviews, interviews, and commentary on Broadway, Off Broadway, regional theatre, and film for Urban Excavations in New York City.
Steve Treacy is the primary theatre critic for The Port Townsend Leader. Find his reviews of Pacific Northwest shows at ptleader.com.

Lauren Yarger  reviews Broadway and OB for Reflections in the Light and reports on pro theatre and arts in Connecticut Arts Connection.

 


 

 

For the full text of each Milestone, click on the name; for all these and previous Milestones together, CLICK HERE. They are listed in the order (latest on top) they appeared in the weekly ATCA UPDATE NOTE that some Milestones haven’t appeared in a timely fashion because of a derelict page editor.

ROBERT FAIRES, Austin, TX, was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters — the rare theater critic among poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, songwriters, playwrights, screenwriters and scholars. Faires is the Austin Chronicle’s Theatre Editor.

BILL HIRSCHMAN, Plantation, FL The ATCA Chair’s mother “Lofi” passed away after a horrendous battle with cancer. Bill penned a loving obituary which can be read here. (Jan. 14, 2019 UPDATE)

JOHN ORR (Sunnyvale, CA) and LAUREN VAN HEMERT (Cary, NC) are new members. He has been writing about theater for 40 years and has decided to become a joiner, and she writes features and reviews in Raleigh. Oct. 12 UPDATE) 

PAM HARBAUGH, Indialantic, FL: her husband, John Harbaugh, a frequent attender of our conferences, died after a lengthy fight with cancer. He was an educator and musician who was equally articulate about theater, travel, and a dozen other areas of expertise. (Sept. 5 UPDATE)

SANDY KATZ, New York, recently underwent some necessary surgery. Her husband Jerry reports she’s recovering well and should be “Travelin’ Sandy” again soon. (Aug. 28 UPDATE)

ALAN SMASON, New Orleans, won first place in the Breaking News (print) category at the 60th Annual Press Club of New Orleans Excellence in Journalism Awards Gala, for his story on the New Orleans Jewish community’s response to Hurricane Harvey. He won 2nd and 3rd place awards, as well (Aug. 28 UPDATE) 

JACKIE DEMALINE, an occasional member of ATCA during her long career as a Cincinnati theater critic and arts reporter, died at the age of 68 after a four-year battle with cancer. Her estate will support emerging playwrights through the Jackie Demaline Regional Playwriting Competition or PLAY/write!, to be held at Ensemble Theater. (June 22 UPDATE). 

For full text of these and previous Milestones, CLICK HERE. NOTE that some Milestones didn’t appear in a timely fashion because of a derelict page editor.

Do you have a Milestone to share? Member Milestones are generally for Transitions (new jobs, retirements), Achievements (awards, honors), Publications (books, TV specials) and Memorials (obituaries). Write a paragraph and send it here. Include a Twitter address in the paragraph so we can give it wider notice. 

 

 

After more than 33 years and (by her count) 13,000 reviews, the long-standing Chicago theater and arts critic Hedy Weiss has been let go by the Chicago Sun-Times. Reporting in the competing Chicago Tribune, Chris Jones writes that the sometimes controversial critic “fit into the decades-long Chicago tradition of powerful, hard-working and famously independent women writing about the arts, without compromise or apology.” Read Jones here. Here, the Chicago Business Journal reports. Weiss delivered ATCA’s 2015 Perspectives in Criticism talk in New Orleans: click for an audio recording.

As others see us: Amanda Peet on being devastated by a NY Times review and going cold turkey on reviews thereafter, click here.  

Martha Steketee’s accumulating interviews of critics for The Clyde Fitch Report (click for index).

   

 

See ATCA International for news of the International Association of Theatre Critics from the ATCA members who represent us there. See also the IATC’s own site (just [2017] handsomely redesigned) and its web journal, Critical Stages, where the current issue deals at length with Contemporary African Drama and Theatre.

 

 

 

 

The 2017 Tony Award for Regional Theater went, on ATCA’s recommendation, to the Dallas Theater Center in Texas.
 
Elsewhere (off)site: for the website of the Drama section of the (British) Critics’ Circle, click here.

 

 

 

{For collected Pull Quotes going back to July, 2012, CLICK HERE.} 

I “believe in culture as a social justice and social change project, which requires not just looking at how ‘good’ a performance is, but at what it does in the world.” — Jill S. Dolan, critic for “The Feminist Spectator” (Princeton University, Dean of the College).

“The Internet allows an avalanche of opinion for infinite sources, many of them rubbish, mean-spirited and lazy. But there’s some terrific writing out there too, and best of all there are so many new ways of reviewing.” — Frank Rizzo, 33 years as Hartford Courant critic, now writes for Variety and many more.

* Previous Pull Quotes are ASSEMBLED HERE 


Past Conferences

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New York Weekend Conference, November 3, 4 and 5, 2017. Details. 

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San Francisco annual conference, 2017

  

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NYC weekend conference, 2016 (for reports and details, scroll down central column)



2016 annual conference in Philadelphia, April 6-10.

Some coverage: day one, day two, day three-A, day three-B, day four, day five. Full schedule here

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2015 NYC Weekend Conference
Sherry Eaker & Ira Bilowit, chairs

 

2015 New Orleans Conference 
Alan Smason, chair 

 

2014 Weekend Conference
New York City
 

2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Humana Festival, Actors Theater of Louisville, April 2-6
; chair, Jonathan Abarbanel.

2013 ANNUAL CONFERENCE, CATF, Shepherdstown, WV, July 17-21 — Details here; Tim Treanor, Chair

Logo by Tim Menees after Honore Daumier

2013 WEEKEND CONFERENCE
Indianapolis, Indiana
March 21-24, 2013
Lou Harry, Chair 

2012 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Chicago, June 13-17, 2012
Jonathan Abarbanel, Chair
See ATCA BLOG for short takes

Milwaukee Add-On
Anne Siegel, Chair
June 17-20, 2012

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2012 WEEKEND MEETING
Colorado New Play Summit
Denver Center Theatre Company, Feb 10-12, 2012

2011 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Ashland, Oregon July 6-10, 2011
Chris Rawson, Chair 

Logo by Tim Menees after Honore Daumier

2010 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Conn.
Chris Rawson, Chair 

Playwright and critic

Playwright and two critics

Check out: ATCA Blog — scroll back for accounts of ATCA/Ashland, ATCA/O’Neill, more on the Pulitzer controversy, also from Humana and Denver festivals

 

 

Past event logos

 

 

(above) Sarasota, 2009. 

 

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Fun ‘n Games

Honest-to-Goodness Theater Geek Trivia Contest, Florida Theatre On Stage, Bill Hirschman, ed. (includes links to answers)

Round One.
Round Two

Tuesday
Mar052019

ATCA Names 2019 Steinberg/ATCA Finalists

The American Theatre Critics Association (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 2018.

The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented April 6 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.

In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. No play is eligible 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.

The 2018 finalists, listed below alphabetically by play (including comments from the judging panel) are:

Birthday Candles [Noah Haidle] “somehow bakes up the simple and the cosmic into a profound experience.” “There’s nothing particularly distinctive about Ernestine or anyone in her family, but they’re treated with such grace and respect that their remarkable qualities (which is of course to say, everyone’s remarkable qualities) come through.” “I started to feel a tear form on page 64, when she speaks to her granddaughter so simply and eloquently,” and even with a cake baked on stage in real time, this is “far from a gimmick play. It’s a beautiful one that walks a fine line that stays specific while occupying the universal.”  “Birthday Candles” had its world premiere at Detroit Public Theatre.

Cambodian Rock Band [Lauren Yee] offers “a very involving story about war, selfishness, atrocity, betrayal, revenge, retribution, and guilt-laden survival.” “The notion of exploring the Cambodian holocaust through contemporary investigation, past survivor memories, and rock and roll is absolutely inspired, and to execute it with such unexpected humor and supple time shifts is a real accomplishment.” “It’s refreshing to see a playwright move so deftly between three eras. The transitions felt seamless.” “This play felt at once fresh and deeply grounded in history. “Cambodian Rock Band” had its world premiere at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, California.

Downstate [Bruce Norris] provides “a real contribution to the American conversation about an important topic which often confounds honest give and take.” Woven into a rich, subtly complex plot, his characters are sex offenders, “but Norris doesn’t preach. He asks us to read between the lines. He asks us to think. And, yes, he also asks us to see the men who have committed these reprehensible acts as human. Not as forgiven, but human nonetheless.” “It’s extraordinary…and brave.”Downstate” had its world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

Lettie [Boo Killebrew] struck one panelist as “absolutely authentic in its understanding of the fault lines that make reentry fiendishly difficult for parolees and family members alike.” “I never got the feeling that the author was ticking off boxes (drug past, check; retraining problems, check; housing obstacles, check) but she got it right nevertheless: the pathology that sends someone into the school-to-prison pipeline, and that keeps them from getting out and staying out. “Lettie” not only calls attention to it but brings it alive with such humanity and dramatic tension, makes it notable.” “It’s still all too rare to read credible American plays about the contemporary American working class. This is one of them.” “Lettie” had its world premiere at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago.

Plainclothes [Spenser Davis] tells “a small scale story of work life behind security cameras” yet is a “wonder of language play and dialogue excellence.” “It considers racial issues in today’s uncertain workplace and incorporates great heart. It’s not just a playwright’s polemic.” “With terrific energy, distinctive characters, lots of humor, and something to say about race and class and corporate benign neglect” “weaving together an entertaining scenario while also gut punching the audience with real world consequences.” “Plainclothes” had its world premiere at Broken Nose Theatre in Chicago.

Witch [Jen Silverman] is “a beautifully balanced play, offering succession and inheritance issues, a silver-tongued Devil, and a gutsy unpopular woman with a great head on her shoulders. The idea of an apprentice devil makes this beguiling, a sort of “It’s a Terrible life” in Frank Capra terms.” “I’ve never seen a ‘deal with the devil’ concept blow away my expectations the way this one did.” “Simple, but so intriguing.” “Plus a strong fight scene.” “And Morris dancing.” “Witch” had its world premiere at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois.

These six finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of sixteen theater critics, led by Lou Harry of louharry.com and the Lou Harry Gets Real podcast. Other participating committee members included Nancy Bishop (Chicago, IL), Lindsay Christians (Madison, WI), Mike Fischer (Milwaukee, WI), Amanda Finn (Chicago, IL), Melissa Hall (Indianapolis, IN), Pam Harbaugh (Indialantic, FL), Mark Lowry (Dallas, TX), Jonathan Mandell (New York, NY), Julius Novick (New York City), Marjorie Oberlander (New York, NY), Kathryn Osenlund (Philadelphia, PA), Wendy Parker (Midlothian, VA), Wendy Rosenfield (Philadelphia, PA), Martha Wade Steketee (New York, NY), and Perry Tannenbaum (Charlotte, NC).

“Short of having an unlimited travel account, there’s no better way to get a sense of the vibrancy of theater across America than serving on the Steinberg judging panel,” said committee chair Lou Harry. “Once again, the wealth of offerings prompted fierce, thoughtful debate leading not only to a set of deserving honorees, but also to a renewed hope for the future of American theater. Thanks to the Steinbergs, these plays will have extra light shining on them.”

Since the inception of ATCA’s New Play Award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Moises Kaufman, Craig Lucas, and Robert Schenkkan. Last year’s honoree was “The Book of Will” by Lauren Gunderson.

Click here for a full list of all of our winners and runners-up.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife. Pursuing its primary mission to support 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.