Finalists Named for 2022 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award

Finalists Named for 2022 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award

NEW YORK — The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has selected five finalists for the 2022 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, recognizing playwrights of the best scripts that premiered professionally outside of New York City in 2021.

“Despite all the difficulties theaters faced during the pandemic financially and with periodic restrictions on public gatherings, these companies around the country performed a great service to their communities and playwrights by premiering these worthy plays in front of live audiences,” said ATCA New Play Committee co-chair Misha Berson, a freelance critic based in Seattle.

The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented on April 9 at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program of its kind.

“Just as we have been thrilled by the return of live, in-person theater across the country, we are thrilled to once again present these prizes in person this April,” said ATCA New Play Committee co-chair Cameron Kelsall, a freelance critic based in Philadelphia. “We thank South Coast Repertory and the Pacific Playwrights Festival for giving us a home, and for making space for us during their exciting conference.”

In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. No play is eligible if it has gone on to a New York production within the award year. Since 2000, the award has been generously funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

The 2022 finalists, listed alphabetically by play title, are:

Extreme Home Makeover by Makasha Copeland. In the wake of its patriarch’s death, a struggling Tejano family sees their way forward through participation in a popular reality television program. Members of the judging panel described the script as “witty,” “clever” and “a take on reality television culture I’d never seen before.” Premiered by Theatre Exile, Philadelphia.

Galatea by David Templeton. Set in the distant future in a space station high above a ruined Earth, this science-fiction fantasia considers what humanity means in a post-human society. Judges called the play “inventive” and “suspenseful.” Premiered by Spreckels Theatre Company, Rohnert Park, Calif.

Poor Clare by Chiara Atik. An irreverent riff on the lives of saints, this playfully anachronistic dramedy chronicles the religious awakening of an Italian noblewoman at the hands of an impassioned visionary. Judges praised the “smart take on historic characters” and “anachronisms that work to connect us to the conflict at the center of the story.” Premiered by Echo Theater, Los Angeles.

The West End by Keith Josef Adkins. A historical drama set in 1941, this play chronicles Black Americans heading north through the Great Migration and German Americans facing prejudice at the height of World War II, all housed under the roof of a boarding house in the Cincinnati neighborhood that gives the play its title. Through “colloquial language” and “realism streaked with mysticism,” the play exhibits “maturity … a sense of history, place and character.” Premiered by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Young Money by Erlina Ortiz. When a brash hip-hop star and a conservative cleaning woman are forced to shelter in place under stressful circumstances, they forge a bond despite differences in age, socioeconomic status and worldview. The judging panel applauded the script’s “rich language and raffish spirit,” and the playwright’s ability to “find a unique point of view and an interesting way to get the messages across through characters and conflict.” Premiered by Azuka Theatre, Philadelphia.

These five finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country and evaluated by a committee of theater journalists, led by Misha Berson (Seattle, WA) and Cameron Kelsall (Philadelphia, PA). Other participating committee members included Nancy Bishop (Chicago, IL), Mike Fischer (Milwaukee, WI), Melissa Hall (Indianapolis, IN), Lou Harry (Indianapolis, IN), Susan Haubenstock (Richmond, VA), Ed Huyck (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), Elizabeth Kramer (Louisville, KY), Wendy Parker (Midlothian, VA), Martha Wade Steketee (New York, NY), Doug Strassler (New York, NY), Perry Tannenbaum (Charlotte, NC), Karen Topham (Chicago, IL), and Bob Verini (Boston, MA).

Since the inception of ATCA’s New Play Award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Lynn Nottage, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Moises Kaufman, Craig Lucas, Nilo Cruz, Lauren Yee, Horton Foote and Qui Nguyen. Last year’s honoree was Her Honor, Jane Byrne by J. Nicole Brooks.

Find the full list of past awards and citations at the Award program page.

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