ATCA Names Six Finalists for the 2015 Francesca Primus Prize
November 30, 2015 — The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has announced the six finalists for the 2015 Francesca Primus Prize. Jointly sponsored by ATCA and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, the Primus Prize of $10,000 is given annually to an emerging woman playwright.
The six finalists are Liz Duffy Adams for “A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World, Nambi Kelley for her adaptation of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” Tira Palmquist for “Ten Mile Lake,” Yasmine Rana for “The War Zone Is My Bed,” Sharyn Rothstein for “By the Water,” and Catherine Trieschmann for “Hot Georgia Sunday.”
“A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World” revisits Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” 10 years after the Salem witch trials. An older, wiser Abigail Williams returns to Massachusetts to find Mercy Lewis and try to determine what caused the hysteria that destroyed so many lives; she discovers that prejudice and religious fanaticism are still forces to reckon with. The play was produced by Moxie Theatre in San Diego.
Nambi Kelley’s “Native Son,” which debuted at the Court Theatre in Chicago, turns a dramatic eye on Richard Wright’s classic portrait of Bigger Thomas, an impoverished and oppressed black man from Chicago’s south side who falls victim to mainstream white society. To depict the conflicted feelings raging within Thomas, Kelley ingeniously creates an alter ego, the Black Rat.
Tira Palmquist found the perfect place to stage “Ten Mile Lake”—a dock in Serenbe, Georgia, that dramatically duplicated the play’s setting. “Ten Mile Lake” portrays the uneasy relationship between a dying father, Howard, and his daughter, Maggie, when she returns home to care for him. Howard’s caregiver, Donny, the play’s third character, becomes a crucial link between the two. The Serenbe Playhouse produced the play.
Yasmine Rana’s “The War Zone Is My Bed” follows the interlocking stories of six characters caught up in the war in the Balkans and Middle East. The play focuses on the impact of war, especially on women, and asks provocative questions about the role of journalists and the effect of what they write on both themselves and those around them. The Halcyon Theatre in Chicago produced the play.
Sharyn Rothstein’s “By the Water” is set on Staten Island during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Marty and Mary Murphy return to the shell that once was their home and must decide whether to rebuild or—like many of their neighbors—accept a government buyout and move to higher ground. The resulting debate reopens old family wounds. The Manhattan Theatre Club debuted the play.
Finally, Catherine Trieschmann offers a slice of rural, small-town, working-class life in “Hot Georgia Sunday.” The play uses a series of interrelated monologues to tell the same stories from several different points of view. At the center are two sisters, Jenny and Flora, who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want. “Hot Georgia Sunday” premiered at the Haven Theatre in Chicago.
The six finalists were selected from 39 award applicants by a nationwide committee of critics, chaired by Barbara Bannon (Salt Lake City, UT) and composed of Julie York Coppens (Juneau, AK), Marianne Evett (Arlington, MA), Kerry Reid (Chicago, IL), Lynn Rosen (Bellingham, WA), and Herb Simpson (Geneseo, NY). Playwrights can nominate themselves for the award or be nominated by theater companies where their work has appeared.
“The Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation was established to recognize and support emerging women artists who are making a difference in the theater community in which they work,” observed Barry Primus, the foundation administrator. The Primus Prize originated in 1997 in memory of actress and critic Francesca Primus. For more about the history of the award, click here.
ATCA is the nationwide organization of theater critics and an affiliate of the International Association of Theatre Critics. In addition to the Primus Prize, it administers two other playwriting awards: the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award.