Beating out more recognizable works as The Old Settler and Freedomland, Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living has nabbed the 1998 Osborn Award for a work by an up-and-coming playwright.
The Award, bestowed by the American Theatre Critics Association in honor of late critic Elizabeth Osborn, will be given to Gilman Feb. 21 as part of ATCA's annual New York mini-meeting (running Feb. 20-22).
The Glory of Living, which premiered at Chicago's Circle Theatre, Dec. 1996, takes a graphic look at "child abuse, sexual deviance and serial murder." Richard Strand's My Simple City, about racial injustice, is the Osborn runner-up.
Ten other award nominees were Sharon Bridgforth's No Mo' Blues, Vicky Covington & Randy Marsh's The Last Hotel For Women, Stuart Flack's Sidney Bechet Killed A Man, Amy Freed's Freedomland, Thomas Gibbons' Black Russian, Lynne Kauffman's Fakes, Dawson Nichols' Escher's Hands, John Henry Redwood's The Old Settler and Tracy Young's Euphoria.
* Please note that the Osborn Award is separate from ATCA's New Play Award, still to be announced. Six finalists have been announced for this year's Award, given only to shows that premiered outside New York City during the previous year:
*The Darker Face of the Earth, Rita Dove's poetic setting of the Oedipus myth in the antebellum South. (Oregon Shakespeare Festival; revised premiere at NJ's Crossroads Theatre). * Black Russian, Thomas Gibbons' parallel tales of a black immigrant to Russia in the 1930s and his son's later search for his American roots. (Philadelphia InterAct Theatre; Eugene O'Neill Center workshop. A New York production is set to open June 4 at the Blue Heron Theatre.)
* The Cider House Rules, Part II -- Peter Parnell's epic dramatization of the John Irving novel. (Seattle Repertory Theatre; 1998 production to open at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum.)
* The Old Settler -- John Henry Redwood's tale of a Harlem family's life, love and disappointment. (McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ.)
* My Simple City -- Richard Strand's poignant drama about cross cultural misunderstandings and injustice. (Chicago, IL's Rivendell Powertap Productions.)
* Jitney -- August Wilson's first full-length version of his own early comedy-drama. (Pittsburgh Public Theatre; revised production at New Jersey's Crossroads Theatre).
The top three dramatists will receive Citations, while the grand prize winner will also receive $1,000 (donated by the Chicago Tribune). All three will also have their works cited and excerpted in the Otis Guernsey "Best Plays" annual volume. In 1997, the winners were Jane Martin (Jack & Jill), Arthur Miller (The Ride Down Mt. Morgan) and Alfred Uhry (The Last Night of Ballyhoo).
Winners will be announced March 28 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival. The American Theatre Critics Association comprises critics from across the country and is allied with the International Association of Theatre Critics.
-- By David Lefkowitz