(Scroll down for news of recent winners and a roster going back to 1977.)
In 1977, the American Theatre Critics Association began annually citing an outstanding new play produced professionally around the United States but not yet produced in New York City, which is well furnished with other awards. This ATCA New Play Citation continued through 1985, when for the first time three plays were cited. Starting in 1986, one of the three was given the ATCA New Play Award, with citations to the two runners-up. The annual prize was $500, then $1,000, with the money contributed some years by ATCA members’ newspapers.
In 2000, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust generously funded the awards, setting the main prize at $15,000 and two additional citations at $5,000. The award was then named the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award and Citations (ATCA/Steinberg for short).
In 2006, it was renamed the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and Citations (Steinberg/ATCA for short) and raised to $25,000, with two additional citations of $7,500. The honoree and citations are also honored by critical essays in the definitive annual theater yearbook, Best Plays, edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, founded by Burns Mantle in 1920.
Any play receiving its professional premiere as a finished work, outside of New York City, is eligible for nomination, as long as it hasn’t opened in New York by the end of the calendar year. Plays are nominated for the Steinberg/ATCA Award by ATCA members. Scripts are then read and honorees selected by a large committee of critics from different regions of the country, and the recent practice has been to announce the awards at the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors’ Theatre of Louisville. Many ATCA Award selections have gone on to major off-Broadway or Broadway productions, and many have received subsequent other awards.