A new book on theater criticism, Refereeing the Muses by Bob Abelman and Creryl Kushner, has the good taste to use ATCA’s old friend on its cover. The 1865 caricature “Promenade of an Influential Critic” by Honore Daumier has served as ATCA’s official logo since 1974.
Appearances so dramatically notwithstanding, the book has no connection to ATCA. But some ATCAns have given it praise. It says it examines “the skill set associated with being a critic and arts journalist” and “explores the history, evolution, and future of the profession in the United States.” It may take a place on a critic’s (or teacher’s) bookshelf beside such standards as Irving Wardle’s 1992 Theatre Criticism.
Refereeing the Muses is published this month by Peter Lang Publishing.
After 38 years of recognizing outstanding regional theaters outside NYC with its Tony Award for a Regional Theater (see list), the Tony administration has changed the award going forward to include non-Broadway theaters within the city. According to its June 13, 2013 press release, “The Tony Awards Administration Committee has announced that starting with the 2013-2014 season, New York-based theatre companies can now be eligible to receive the Regional Theatre Award.”
The award belongs exclusively to the Tonys, of course. However, it was begun in 1976 at the instigation of ATCA members, from the start ATCA was given the responsibility of making a recommendation, and it has always gone to the theater recommended by ATCA after its confidential selection process. In recognition of this, there was some informal advance discussion of the change between Tony and ATCA leaders, who expressed conflicting points of view, but ATCA was never approached formally.
The press release continues: “ ‘The Regional Theatre Award honors artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally,’ said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League & Heather Hitchens, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing. ‘New York has some of the most prestigious and creative theatre groups in the country and we are thrilled to include the New York theatre community in this category.’ ”
There is a bit more information in the resulting New York Times article (take a look), but there is no mention there of how the awardee is chosen or of ATCA’s key function. A more comprehensive article appeared in Playbill, June 28. The ATCA executive committee expects discussion on this subject at the West Virginia conference, July 17-21, by which time there may be more instruction from the League and Wing on the new parameters for the award.
The registration page for the ATCA conference at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival now acknowledges the extended early bird registration rates of $180 for members and $200 for guests. The price goes up on Sunday to $200 (members) and $225 (guests). You can register online here or by sending a check to our administrator Barry Gaines at 12809 Northern Sky NE, Albuquerque NM 87111-8089.
(Scroll down for more details and handsome conference brochure.)
Paul Hyde of the Greenville (S.C.) News and Andrew McGibbon of TheAndyGram.com have been awarded the scholships ATCA funds at the National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theater Center.
Check out the new conference brochure (download pdf).
Five plays, panels, speakers, dinners, a host of historical sites and more, plus transport, etc.
The venue: The theaters of Shepherd University.
The dates: Wednesday, July 17 to Saturday, July 21, 2013.
The National Critics Institute at the O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn-ecticut, seeks critic fellows for its 2013 program, June 29-July 15. (NOTE that critic fellows can be young or old, experienced or novice.) Director Dan Sullivan (long-time theater critic at L.A. Times and Minneapolis Tribune) and associate director Mark Charney invite applications. Read on.
(added much later) — Video clips of $40,000 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards at the 37th Humana Festival: Jim Steinberg of the Steinberg Charitable Trust; presentations by Bill Hirschman to winner Robert Schenkkan (“All the Way”) and citation winners Johnna Adams (“Gideon’s Knot”) and Lucas Hnath (“Death Tax”)
April 6, 2013— At tonight’s Humana Festival of New Plays, ATCA named Robert Schenkkan’s meditation on power and pragmatism, All The Way, the recipient of the 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing a script that premiered outside New York City during 2012. Schenkkan’s play about Lyndon Johnson’s dogged campaign to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 received the top award of $25,000.
Two citations that carry $7,500 each were presented to Lucas Hnath for Death Tax and Johnna Adams for Gidion’s Knot. At a total of $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award focusing on regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States.
For HowlRound’s week on criticism, go here. Some of the contributions:
Wendy Rosenfield on really wanting to be a critic and what criticism’s for, here.
Jason Zinoman on the critic’s passion, here.
Rob Weinert-Kendt on the personal drive to criticism, here.
John Moore on the economics of reviewing as newspapers abandon the field, here.
On April 6 at Actors Theatre, during the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays, the evening show in the Pamela Brown Auditorium will be preceded by the announcement of the 2013 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered outside New York City during 2012 — the nation’s biggest such awards ($25,000, $7,500 and $7,500). The finalists are Johnna Adams, Ayad Akhtar, Lucas Hnath, Mia McCullough, Dan O’Neil and Robert Schenkkan. Stay tuned. (Click here for more details.)
Friday night at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, playwright Tammy Ryan accepted the 2012 Francesca Primus Prize and shared a few thoughts on the value of prizes and critics.
“One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t control what other people think. You only control what you do and if you’re a writer, what and how you write. But what people think often comes into play on whether or not someone gets to participate in the American Theater. Someone has to say yes to produce your play, give you a grant or a prize.
ATCA’s annual mini-conference brings several dozen of us to the mid-west this weekend, March 21-24, just in time for spring. Reports of the festivities and art will follow.
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 2012.
The six are Johnna Adams, Ayad Akhtar, Lucas Hnath, Mia McCullough, Dan O’Neil and Robert Schenkkan (for the scripts specifically honored, see below). 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 of its kind.
Keri Healey has won its 2013 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award, give by ATCA each year to recognize the work of an emerging playwright who has not yet achieved national stature. The award specifically recognizes Healey’s play, Torso, which premiered in March 2012 at Printer’s Devil Theater in Seattle, directed by David Bennett. The award will be presented in April at the Humana New Plays Festival at Actors’ Theatre of Louisville. Last year’s Osborn Award went to Darren Canady for Brothers of the Dust.