Chelsea Marcantel’s “Airness” wins 2018 Osborn New Play Award

Chelsea Marcantel’s “Airness” wins 2018 Osborn New Play Award

(April 5, 2018) ATCA has named Chelsea Marcantelwinner ofthe 2018 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award recognizing an emerging playwright. The award will be presented at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville on April 7.

The Osborn Award cites Marcantel’s Airnesswhich premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival for New American Plays. Airness concerns a woman entering her first air guitar competition. There she discovers there’s an art form at the center of what may seem on the surface like just people pretending to play instruments.

A panelist on the ATCA New Play Committee, which selects the Osborn winner, called it “much more than a lark about a stranger in a strange land. It does what too few plays do…transforms audience assumptions. And it does it without condescending and with a wonderful sweetness and sincerity.” Another added, “It’s a play that demonstrates the value of choosing ties with others that transcend preconceived conceptions.” “Joy,” another critic wrote, “is hard to pull off. This one does it beautifully.”

Originally from southwest Louisiana and now based in Los Angeles, Marcantel completed a Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Fellowship at The Julliard School in 2016 and is working on commissions from San Francisco Playhouse and Delaware Theatre Company.

ATCA’s Osborn Award is designed to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature. The award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn. It carries a $1,000 prize, funded by the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association. Visit for a list of previous Osborn Award winners.

Making the selection from plays nominated by ATCA members is the ATCA New Plays Committee, chaired by Lou Harry, arts & entertainment editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal and That committee also selects honorees for the $40,000 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award.

Other committee members are:

  • Misha Berson, Seattle Times (Seattle, WA)
  • Bruce Burgun, The New Orleans Advocate (New orleans, LA)
  • Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
  • Amanda Finn, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)
  • Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Pam Harbaugh (Indialantic, FL)
  • Erin Keane, Salon (Louisville, KY)
  • Mark Lowry,, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas, TX)
  • Jonathan Mandell, (NYC)
  • Julius Novick, freelance (New York City, NY)
  • Marjorie Oberlander, freelance (New York City, NY)
  • Kathryn Osenlund, freelance (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, VA)
  • Wendy Rosenfield, (Philadelphia, PA)
  • David Sheward,, (Jackson Heights, NY)
  • Martha Wade Steketee, freelance (New York, NY)
  • Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing, (Charlotte, NC)
  • Bob Verini, Variety (Boston, MA)

The American Theatre Critics Association was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of critics’ functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theater critics, it has several hundred members who work for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and websites across the United States. ATCA is also a national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide.

ATCA also presents the Francesca Primus Prize, funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, honoring outstanding contributions to the American theater by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence. Annually it makes a recommendation for the Regional Theater Tony Award presented by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League and votes on inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Lou Harry, ATCA New Plays Chairman,
Martha Wade Steketee, ATCA Executive Committee Chair,

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