The M. Elizabeth Osborn Award

The M. Elizabeth Osborn Award was established in 1993, named for Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn, a fondly remembered ATCA member. The award now carries a $1,000 cash award and receives recognition in the Best Plays theater yearbook. It recognizes a work by an author whose plays have not yet received a major production, such as off-Broadway or Broadway, nor received other major national awards.

Scripts are nominated by ATCA members and the winner is selected by a hard-working ATCA committee. Although the winner is announced earlier, the Osborn Award is typically presented during the Actors Theater of Louisville’s Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, at the same time as the Steinberg/ATCA Award.

For the full list of winners back to 1994, scroll down.


2016 Osborn Award

Jonathan Norton has won the 2016 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award was Jonathan Nortonpresented at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville on April 9. The Osborn Award recognizes Norton’s “Mississippi Goddamn,” which premiered in February, 2015 at the South Dallas Cultural Center, directed by Vickie Washington. (Read more.)


2015 Osborn Award

During the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the 2015 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, which recognizes emerging playwrights, was presented to Tom Coash of Atlanta for his play Veils, aPlaywright Tom Coash unique look at the differences and similarities between America and the Middle East as viewed in the clashing sensibilities of women’s rights and traditional roles in both civilizations. Two young Muslim women attending the American Egyptian University in Cairo just before the anarchic Arab Spring in 2010 are complex three-dimensional characters, with the American the more traditional of the two while the Egyptian is enamored of western pop culture. But both are searching for sustaining definitions of how they should lead their lives in order to honor both their faith and their integrity in the world. Its premiere was held in February 2014 at Portland Stage in Maine.

The 2014 Winner

ATCA announces that Topher Payne has won its 2014 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging

Playwright Topher Payneplaywright. 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.

Recent Winners

Keri Healey wins 2013 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award. Read press release.

Playwright Darren Canady wins 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award. Read press release.

Playwright Cori Thomas wins 2011 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award
Read press release.

Playwright Jason Wells wins 2010 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award
Read press release.


Playwright Yussef El Guindi wins 2009 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award
Read Press Release

ATCA honors Playwright Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder with 2008 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award
Read Press Release

Complete Roster of Osborn Winners

(The gap for 2007 is because the dating changed: instead of dating the award  by the year the play premiered, it is now dated by the year in which it is presented.)

2016: Jonathan Norton, Mississippi Godddamn, South Dallas Cultural Center

2015: Tom Coash, Veils, Portland Stage, Maine.
2014: Topher Payne, Perfect Arrangement, The Source Festioval, Washington, D.C.

2013: Keri Healey, Torso, Printers Devil Theatre, Seattle.
2012: Darren Canady, Brothers of the Dust, Congo Square Theatre, Chicago
2011: Cori Thomas, When January Feels Like Summer, City Theatre, Pittsburgh
2010: Jason Wells, Perfect Mendacity, Asolo Repertory Theatre
2009: Yussel El Guindi, Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat, Silk Road Theatre Project, Chicago, IL

2008: Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, Gee’s Bend, Alabama Shakespeare Festival
2006: Ken LaZebnik, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN
2005: J.T. Rogers, Madagascar, Salt Lake Acting Company, Salt Lake City, UT
2004: Rolin Jones, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA
2003: John Walch, State Theatre, Austin, TX
2002: Mia McCullough, Stage Left Theatre, Chicago, IL
2001: S.M. Shephard-Massat, Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver, CO
2000: Coby Goss, Senachai Theatre, Chicago, IL
1999: Dan O’Brien, the Perishable Theatre Company, Providence, RI
1998: Rebecca Gilman
1997: Keith Glover
1996: Richard Kalinoski
1995: Charlie Varon
1994: Anne Galjour