ATCA’s 2014 annual conference runs today through Sunday (April 2-6) at Actors Theatre of Louisville, but ATCA meetings the first two days will quickly yield to the Humana Festival of New American Plays, the premiere such festival in the country. On this, its final weekend, it attracts an audience especially thick with theater professionals. We’ll announce the Steinberg/ATCA awards on Saturday. The partying is also great. Maybe we’ll have a minute or two to post some notes along the way.
Longtime ATCA member Jay Stanley, who loved theatre, threw lavish parties for celebrity friends, broke taboos and established his own Marquee Awards, died March 8, 2014. He was 84. Click here for an obituary.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson will deliver the 33rd Perspectives in Criticism talk at ATCA’s annual conference at the Humana Festival in Louisville, April 3. This is a departure for the series, inaugurated in 1992, which has never featured a playwright except on a panel in 2011. The prolific Gunderson’s “I and You” is a finalist for this year’s Steinberg/ATCA Award, to be awarded in Louisville, and was also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
ATCA announces that Topher Payne has won its 2014 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award will be presented April 5 at the Humana Theater Festival at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.
The Osborn Award recognizes Payne’s play, Perfect Arrangement, which premiered in June 2013 at The Source Festival in Washington D.C., directed by Linda Lombardi. The award is designed to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature. Last year it went to Keri Healey for Torso. Previous winners have included Yussef El Guindi, Rebecca Gilman, Keith Glover and Richard Kalinoski.
For more about Payne and Perfect Arrangement, click here for full press release.
“Alternative criticism”: blog, tweet, amateur and pro, dedicated web sites, critical avant-garde, the audience role – some of the subjects in the February issue of Critical Stages, the online web journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics, along with book reviews and more. Critics world-wide are joined by ATCA members Russell Warne, Randy Gener and Leonard Jacobs.
ATCA has selected six finalists for the 2014 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 2013. No play is eligible if it has gone on to a New York production within the award year.
Generously funded at $40,000 by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, this is the largest national new play award of its kind. The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented April 5 at Actors Theatre of Louisville, during the Humana Festival of New American Plays.
No play is eligible if it has gone on to a New York production within the award year. Last year’s winner, Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way, opens on Broadway this spring. This year’s finalists, alphabetically by playwright, with the theater where each premiered:
Fear Up Harsh, by Christopher Demos-Brown (Zoetic Stage, Miami).
I and You, by Lauren Gunderson (Marin Theatre Company, California, as part of the National New Play Network’s rolling world premiere program).
Smokefall, by Noah Haidle (co-production of South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, Calif., and the Goodman Theatre, Chicago).
H20, by Jane Martin (Contemporary American Theater Festival, Shepherdstown, WV).
Stupid F**king Bird, by Aaron Posner (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington D.C.).
Seven Spots on the Sun, by Martin Zimmerman (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park).
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, Lynn Nottage, Moises Kaufman and Craig Lucas. Last year’s honoree was Robert Schenkkan’s “All The Way.” For a full list of all winners and runners-up, go to www.americantheatrecritics.org and click on Steinberg-ATCA under Awards.
For more about the finalists, the award, ATCA and the Steinberg Trust, click here for the complete press release.
The recipient of the 2012-23 prize, the most prestigious in our field (except for the Pulitzer, which only occasionally might go to a theater critic), is Scott Brown, theater critic for New York Magazine from 2010-2013. He has been a columnist at Wired magazine and a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly. The co-author of the off-Broadway comedy “Gutenberg! The Musical!,” he is currently working on TV and theater projects. More info here; more about the Nathan award here.
The O’Neill Theater Center’s search for a new director of the National Critics Institute has selected Chris Jones. For 15 years theater critic for the Chicago Tribune (and before that, Variety), Chris chairs ATCA’s committee on the regional theater Tony. He succeeds Dan Sullivan, previously critic at the Los Angeles Times, who in turn succeeded the late Ernie Schier, NCI founder and previously critic at the Philadelphia Bulletin; both were also founders of ATCA. To complete the circle, the O’Neill was the birthplace of ATCA, which underwrites an NCI scholarship each summer. Links:
O’Neill Center announcement.
About Chris Jones.
This summer’s NCI (June 28-July 12) and how to apply.
The Theater Hall of Fame, for which ATCA members are the bulk of the electorate, inducted its class of 2013 on Jan. 27 at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre: Ellen Burstyn (inducted by Betty Buckley), Lorraine Hansberry (posthumously, by Phylicia Rashad), David Hays (daughter Julia Hays), Cherry Jones (Zachary Quinto), Cameron Mackintosh (in absentia, by Robert Wankel), Lynne Meadow (Sarah Jessica Parker), George C. Wolfe Jr. (John Guare) and Jerry Zaks (Jack Viertel). Emcee Joel Grey started the evening with a customized version of “Welkommen” from Cabaret.
The fullest account of the evening (click here) is in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
For an extraordinary induction speech, given by Julia Hays about her father, David (whom ATCA members cannot have fully known when they voted for him), click here.
Hopeful update from ATCA chair (Feb. 10)
Police say not a hate crime (Jan. 30).
A comprehensive update (Jan. 28).
Update about the arrest of a suspect (Jan 29).
Howard Sherman column, with pictures of the candlelight vigil (Jan. 28).
How to contact Randy.
Some ATCA responses.
ORIGINAL POST, LINKS BELOW:
Long-time ATCA member Randy Gener, 2008 winner of the George Jean Nathan Award, was assaulted at midtown Manhattan on Jan. 17 and taken to a hospital where he had brain surgery. A LGBT activist, Randy may have been victim of a hate crime. A free-lancer, Randy had no health insurance: fund-raising is underway. There will be a candlelight vigil in Manhattan at 7th and 53rd this evening (Sunday, Jan. 26) at 6 pm. All ATCA grieves.
Some of Randy’s accomplishments.
Randy’s sister is posting current information on his Facebook page.
There will be a prayer rally for Randy at the Philippine Consulate this evening (Monday, Jan. 27) at 7 pm.
Sarasota’s Asolo Rep was slapped down by Brian Friel for making significant changes in “Philadelphia, Here I Come,” as reported by Jay Handelman (Sarasota Herald-Tribune). In “Who Thinks It’s OK to ‘Improve’ Playwrights’ Work?,” Howard Sherman points out the issues are legal as well as moral and aesthetic.
In the debate over “August: Osage County,” some movie critics have had opinions on a play they haven’t seen. Chris Jones (Chicago Tribune) clears some air with “Don’t pit ‘August’ the movie vs. play.”
Any ATCA member 35 or younger is eligible, and there’s still time to join. Most expenses are paid.
Deadline to apply is Feb. 15.
Registration now open for ATCA’s 40th anniversary conference!
The bluegrass will be extra-blue, the bourbon will be extra-strong and every play will be exciting (we hope) when ATCA gathers in Louisville, April 2-6, for its 40th Anniversary Annual Conference… .
Click below for an index to some (hardly all) “bests” or “top ten” theater lists for 2013, not from just NYC but also Albany, Atlanta, the Berkshires, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Connecticut, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, South Florida, Utah and Washington D.C. The lists vary: Note Don Aucoin’s (Boston), celebrating “most adroit scene-stealing” and “most likely to make you want to hit the bars afterward for a good stiff drink.”
(Send links to any additional lists to the editor; they’ll be added if they’re (1) by ATCA members, (2) by non-members from major outlets, or (3) the only list we can find for that city. NOTE: since being posted Jan. 13, the index has continued to grow.)
In yesterday’s column, Liz Smith lists (most of) the inducters for the upcoming Theater Hall of Fame ceremony (Jan. 27): Sarah Jessica Parker, Zach Quinto, Phylicia Rashad, Robert Wankel, Jack Viertel, John Guare and Betty Buckley. They’ll present inductees George Wolfe, Ellen Burstyn, Cherry Jones, Lynne Meadow, Jerry Zaks, Cameron Mackintosh, Lorraine Hansberry and David Hays. (There’s one inducter missing, and the others don’t match up in just that order. How do you think they’ll pair up? For more, scroll down or click here.)
Theater historian William Green, professor of English at Queens College-CUNY for 52 years, died Nov. 13, age 87. Bill was an active guest at ATCA conferences for many years before someone finally ruled that his writing about Broadway qualified him to join. His chief scholarly work was on Shakespeare, and he was an officer of the American Society of Theatre Research and the International Federation for Theatre Research. His impish, thoughtful participation in ATCA will be greatly missed.
Barbara Gross, an ATCA member for some 20 years, passed away Nov. 20, age 66. Unknown to most who enjoyed her quiet, perceptive presence at ATCA conferences, she had had a long battle with cancer. An alum of the critics boot camp at the O’Neill Theater Center, she was a free-lancer for Backstage, the Washington Post and Playbill. Her day job was as a writer with the National Institutes of Health, from which she retired in 2010.
ATCA chair Jonathan Abarbanel pays tribute here to both Barbara and Clara Hieronymus.
The doyenne of American theater critics, Clara was one of ATCA’s founders, following Henry Hewes in the central role of executive secretary, 1984-2001. She died Saturday in Savannah, Tenn., according to her daughter-in-law Martha Hieronymus, who told Evans Donnell of ArtsNash, “She went peacefully at home around 9:05 p.m.” Evans first reported her passing; here’s The Tennessean’s full obituary. You should find some comments on the ATCA Facebook page.
ATCA chair Jonathan Abarbanel pays tribute below to both Clara and Barbara Gross (above).
If ATCA has a home, it’s where it was born in 1974, under the copper beeches at the O’Neill Theater Center, home of the annual National Critics Institute. NCI has had just two directors -– Ernie Schier and Dan Sullivan, both founding members of ATCA -– and Dan has just retired. NCI is seeking his successor, as O’Neill executive director Preston Whiteway explains in the following letter seeking applicants. The deadline to apply is Nov. 15.
“Spotlight on Broadway” is an ambitious, fact- and people-filled website devoted to the history, architecture and much more of the 40 Broadway theaters. Executives, producers, designers, architects, historians and lots and lots of actors provide video background and anecdotes. Former ATCA chair Jeffrey Eric Jenkins provided historical research on all the theaters and is featured talking about 27 of them. Take a look.