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.
In the Winter 2013 Nieman Reports, in a collection of essays titled “Critical Condition,” John Lahr (former New Yorker drama critic) lambastes American theater critics in general and a couple of well-known ones in particular (but not by name). Under the heading “The Illumination Business,” he says, in part:
“The reviewer proclaims his ignorance, then blithely practices it. His chirpy tone is the voice not of a critic but of a ‘cricket’ … . The writer makes noise but not meaning. He’s full of energy but not information… . His article is not criticism; it’s bluffing.” Later, Lahr adds, “A drama critic has a historical and descriptive function; his job is to look at and look after the theater; a reviewer’s job is to look after the audience.”
One terse response has come from Charles McNulty (LA Times) on Facebook: “I always thought [Lahr] was part of the problem. His reviews rarely provided in-depth analysis of a production… . I lost all confidence in Lahr’s critical integrity. I would read his reviews and see his dinner parties.” If you are on Facebook, you can also see piling-on comments by Jason Zinoman (NY Times) and others.
But the best place to read McNulty’s comment is in George Hunka’s online journal, “Superfluities Redux,” where on March 3 (“John Lahr v. Charles McNulty: Round 1”) he discusses Lahr’s charges. As is often the case, the comments there add some substance and lots of fun. Hunka returns to the subject the next day with “A Modest Proposal,” which attracts comments of its own.
And the debate (brawl?) goes on.
The Francesca Primus Prize is an annual $10,000 award honoring outstanding contributions to the American theater by an emerging woman theater artist who has not yet achieved national prominence. The prize is made possible through the generosity of the
Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, which honors the writer, critic, performer and cherished ATCA member who died at 42 in 1992.
Historically the award has been given to an outstanding woman playwright, but the committee also considers significant directors or artistic directors. The Primus Prize operates on an open submission basis—an applicant may submit herself or be nominated by another individual or organization. Recent winners have included Tammy Ryan, Caridad Svich, Michele Lowe and Victoria Stewart; before them, Lynn Nottage and Melanie Marnich.
For full information on criteria and method of submission, click here.
More to the point, the deadline to get the ATCA rate at the brand new Alexander Hotel is just ahead, Feb. 19.
The conference fee of $99 for members, $135 for guests, includes events, lunches, Saturday dinner, receptions, and panels. Special $150 fee for non-members who join, includes one year of dues.
See below for the full schedule, including signup procedure. Or go directly to register here on our events page.
Anthony Chase surveys the history (click here) of the great divide and, along with just about every other authority (AP style, for one), comes down firmly for the American form, “theater.” You don’t spell it “programme,” do you? Or “shoppe”? (NOTE: The ATCA site’s style is “theater” unless it’s a proper name that spells it, for whatever reason, “theatre” — like our own name. ATCA’s founder, Henry Hewes, used “re” in our name because he thought that was preferred by theater people, and critics are theater people themselves.)
Inductee Sir Trevor Nunn walked around, star struck, looking up at the walls encrusted with names in raised gold letters. Sam Waterston accepted induction by saying, “For me, from the start, the theater [as opposed to TV] has always been ‘it.’ … This honor is, as I take it, for sticking to it.” Kristine Nielsen, veteran of many Christopher Durang plays, inducted the absent playwright (laid low by an accident just suffered performing at Yale) with a catalog of all the bitchy, depressive, psychotic and wildly funny characters he’s given her to play. And in posthumously inducting Martin Pakledinaz, fellow costume designer Susan Hilferty remembered him “at the flea markets, on his bicycle racing through New York.”
For the fullest available account of the evening, click here.