The Primus Prize (which includes $10,000) honors an emerging woman theatre artist. Selected for her play Hardball, Stewart "is the very model of an emerging playwright, with a dozen plays written in just seven years and an already impressive array of awards, residencies, commissions and other honors," according to the award sponsors.
Funded by the Primus Foundation, the prize has been administered by ATCA since 2004. Stewart was selected from more than 25 nominees by a nationwide panel of critics, headed by Nancy Melich, retired theatre critic for The Salt Lake Tribune.
Hardball was selected from over 1,000 submissions to be one of 15 plays produced in 2006 at New York City's Summer Play Festival (SPF). At different stages of development it has had readings at Pittsburgh's City Theatre, New York's Vineyard Theater, London's Donmar Warehouse, Chicago's Northlight Theater, the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and it was a finalist in the 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.
The comedy about contemporary media careerism and politics, Hardball is described by the ATCA committee as "hard, glittery, slick, pertinent, confronting, controversial and well-crafted." One committee member said, "Stewart manages to make a number of political points by allowing what seems almost a fair debate between liberal and conservative."
* "The Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation was established to recognize and support emerging women artists who are making a difference in the theatre community in which they work," stated Barry Primus, administrator of the foundation. "Victoria Stewart's plays give promise of an important contribution to the theatre, which should be encouraged and supported. We at the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation are delighted to be a part of that."
Founded in 1997 in memory of the admired actress and critic Francesca Primus, the Primus Prize was until 2002 administered by the Denver Center Theatre Company and limited to emerging women playwrights.
Now, a woman in any category of theatre is eligible. The first non-playwright honored was the 2005 winner, Michelle Hensley, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company in Minneapolis. The 2006 winner, Karen Zacarías, was honored as both playwright (Mariela in the Desert) and as founder and artistic director of Young Playwrights' Theater, Washington, DC.
Stewart said several theatres are now interested in mounting a full production of Hardball.
Stewart's other plays include LIVE GIRLS, Leitmotif, Nightwatches, The Last Scene, 800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick and an adaptation of Henry James' The Bostonians.
Stewart is a core member of the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis and a member of the Workhaus Collective and the Vinegar Tom Players. Her agent is Seth Glewen.
Other awards administered by ATCA are the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Awards and the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. Overseeing all these is the New Plays Committee, chaired by Florida theatre critic William Hirschman.
Previous winners of the Francesca Primus Prize: