Norman Nadel died Oct. 25, age 95. He had been critic in turn for the Columbus (Ohio) Citizen, the New York World-Telegram and Sun and the New York World Journal Tribune, chaired the N.Y. Drama Critics Circle and arbitrated disputes over foreign actors on N.Y. stages. As cultural affairs writer for Scripps-Howard and critic-at-large for the Independent News Alliance, his reviews appeared in more than 700 newspapers. The first director (later, critic in residence) of the National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theater Center and an emeritus member of ATCA, he is interviewed by Jay Handelman in ATCA’s own Under the Copper Beech: Conversations with American Theater Critics (2004). In later life he split his year between Naples, Florida (Naples News obituary) and Bar Harbor, Maine (Bar Harbor Times).
Critics and criticism keep making news, so after appearing here on the home page, such items will move to our new “Criticism in Controvery” page. Examples to date: the flap over a Cleveland music critic, Pulitzers ignoring the drama jury, Theresa Rebeck taking on critics, and Tonys returning the critics’ votes.
Oct. 15 — Gerald Weales, winner of the 1965 George Jean Nathan Award (the highest national award reserved for theater criticism) and an ATCA emeritus member, says, “After more than a half century of reviewing, I formally retired. My farewell appears at the end of my latest and final “American Theater Watch” for The Georgia Review” (Fall issue). Read that that characteristically concise farewell here.
Sept. 27 — Three actors, a director, music director, librettist, playwright and one who defies category make up the eight 2010 selections of the Theater Hall of Fame, to be inducted ceremoniously on Jan. 24, 2011, beneath the names of more than 400 previous members on the walls of Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.
The inductees are actors Brian Dennehy, Linda Lavin and Fritz Weaver; director Michael Blakemore; music director Paul Gemignani; librettist James Lapine: playwright Caryl Churchill; and the multi-dimensional Joseph Chaikin (deceased). (Apologies that an earlier version of this list incorrectly included Paul Sills.)
ATCA members form the major part of the Hall of Fame electorate, which also includes Hall members and selected theater historians, notables and other critics. The Hall of Fame is administered by Terry Hodge Taylor. Click here for more on the Hall of Fame.
The Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation and the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) are pleased to announce that playwright Michele Lowe has been awarded the 2010 Francesca Primus Prize for her play Inana. Lowe will receive her award at an upcoming ATCA conference.
At the ATCA/O’Neill conference “All Campus” panel on “The Theater Looks at Critics,” July 17, featuring an actor, director, designer, non-critic journalist, two producers and two playwrights (see below * for list; click here for a few excerpts), moderated by O’Neill managing director Preston Whiteway.
ATCA started the proceedings by presenting an award and a check. Barbara Bannon, chair of the Primus Prize committee, presented a plaque to the 2009 winner, Jamie Pachino, who had long since received the $10,000 check made possible by the generosity of the Francesca Primus Foundation. The 2010 Primus winner, Michele Lowe, will received her plaque at a future conference.
Then Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, president of Foundation ATCA, presented an $1,800 scholarship check to Dan Sullivan, head of the National Critics Institute — who immediately passed it on to Whiteway. Jenkins also distributed to this year’s NCI fellows copies of Under the Copper Beech: Conversations with American Theater Critics, which he edited, published by the Foundation in 2004. It’s a reminder that we all work in the great critical tradition nurtured by Elliot Norton, Henry Hewes, Ernest Schier and others.
In the background sat the ATCA bench, presented in 2004 to mark the 30th anniversay of ATCA’s founding at the O’Neill in 1974.
(* “The Theater Looks at Critics” panel: actor Peter Jay Fernandez; director Wendy Goldberg [also NCI Artistic Director); designer Rachel Hauck; journalist Patrick Healey; producers Tom Viertel [also chair, O’Neill board] and Steven Hendel [Fela]; and playwrights Jamie Pachino and Adam Rapp.)
The debate about the criteria for ATCA membersip that flared (by design) at ATCA/O’Neill is now going forward on Wendy Rosenfield’s Drama Queen blog. It’s her July 21 entry — take a look and click on Comments. Leonard Jacobs also comments on his Clyde Fitch Report, although so far mainly (negatively) about our hotel. Let us know where else ATCA/O’Neill comment appears. If you were there, send us any links to your published comments or write comments to add to our ATCA Blog.
The conference ended July 18 with the satisfaction of much accomplished. (The next day it poured in New London, but that’s another story.) As soon as we rejoin life in our home cities, we hope to get those accomplishments posted here — officers elected, actions taken, awards given, decisions made, insights achieved. Meanwhile, look back on the conference blog here — now 13 posts and still counting. And if you wish you’d been there or want to know what you missed, go to the conference page and find the full schedule.
Michael Phillips, film critic for the Chicago Tribune, most recently shared TV’s “On the Movies” with A.O. Scott as joint successors to Siskel & Ebert. Before that he had a record cross-country tour as theater critic, moving briskly from the Dallas Times-Herald to the San Diego Union-Tribune to the St. Paul Pioneer Press to the Los Angeles Times to the Tribune. (Click here for the history of the Perspectives in Criticism series and its distinguished speakers.)
ALSO ATTENDING: guests at the conference include playwright Jamie Pachino, winner of ATCA’s $10,000 Primus Prize (2009) for an emerging female theater artist.
NOTE: The seagull version (above) eventually outpolled the non-seagull version (here) of the conference’s O’Neill & Critic logo; both appear on the conference banners and also the conference necktie, for the critic who dares flaunt his Daumier. (Anyone intrested in an unusual present for the critic who has everything, maybe even a job, send an email query; we can offer the logo in a nectie as well as a scarf.)
By recommendation of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford Conn., now in its 46th year, will be awarded the 2010 Tony Award for a regional theater at the ceremony on June 13. The announcement was made May 3 by the American Theatre Wing, proprietor of the Tony Awards, and its partner, the Broadway League.
ATCA made its recommendation after a lengthy process of debate and balloting. The regional theater Tony, which is limited to a theater outside New York City, is the only award based on a recommendation from a national, non-Broadway group. Presumably it is announced the day before the full slate of Tony nominations to give the winning theater a moment in the sun before the handicapping begins on the other Tony races.
For a complete list of winners of the regional theater Tony back to 1976, go to that page on this website.
March 27, Louisville, KY — Bill Cain’s “Equivocation” is the winner of the $25,000 2010 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. The largest such prize in the country, the Steinberg/ATCA recognizes the best American scripts which premiered professionally in the award year (2009) outside New York City.
The Steinberg/ATCA and two additional citations were presented March 27 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Cain received a commemorative plaque and a cash prize of $25,000. The two citations, including plaques and $7,500 each, went to “Time Stands Still,” by Donald Margulies, and “Legacy of Light,” by Karen Zacarías.
“The long-standing partnership between the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the American Theatre Critics Association has recognized some of today’s greatest writers, and helped identify the great playwrights of tomorrow,” said trustee Jim Steinberg. “We’re delighted to help support the unique telling of tales on the American stage.”
The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) announces that Jason Wells has won its 2010 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award will be presented March 27 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ky.
The Osborn Award recognizes Well’s play, Perfect Mendacity, which premiered in May 2009 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, directed by Michael Donald Edwards. Originally commissioned by the Manhattan Theater Club, Perfect Mendacity was developed as part of Steppenwolf Theatre’s fourth annual First Look Workshop Series, where it was directed by David Cromer.
Cheers for Richard Christiansen. On March 1, Chicago’s Tony-winning Victory Gardens Theater named its new 109-seat studio theater after the retired chief critic for the Chicago Tribune, a key figure in the growth and recognition of Off-Loop Chicago professional theater and a longtime ATCA member. Read more under Milestones: Achievements, or enjoy this eye-witness tribute by Chris Jones and this one, on our ATCA Blog page, where Jonathan Abarbanel reports from the event.
Elizabeth Maupin, former ATCA chair and long-time critic for the Orlando Sentinel, retired Feb. 26 — see her announcement in the Transitions section of the Milestones page. You can also read her final Sentinel blog; in bidding farewell to 9,609 days at the Sentinel, she promises to continue writing about theater in other ways. Check out the wonderful reader comments attached.