At its New York City mini-meeting, May 2, the American Theatre Critics Association honored playwright Keith Glover with its annual Osborn Award. Glover's Thunder Knocking At The Door, which premiered at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, took this year's prize for a play with the most distinctive voice.
Glover was commissioned to write Thunder as part of the Southern Writers Project. Other works by the dramatist include The Coming Of The Hurricane and In Walks Ed. The $300 award stipend is made possible by FATCA (Foundation Of The American Theatre Critics Association).
At the noon ceremony, which took place in Broadway's Plymouth Theatre, Glover told the assembled critics that the premiere of Thunder Knocking On The Door was an especially momentous occasion for him - because it coincided with the birth of his daughter, Lena. ("Everybody told me `you should name her Thunder!'" said Glover.) The playwright took the opportunity to credit the late Gerald Chapman for serving as his mentor, and George C. Wolfe for opening doors to black artists in America.
Asked what he would do with the $300 award stipend, Glover said, "This goes into my daughter's college fund."
national critics `tion Set in 1966 in Bessemer, Alabama, where Glover was born, the African-American fable blends mystery, drama, comedy, magic and music to tell the story of the Dupree family, leading to a guitar duel between brother Jaguar and Marvel "The Conqueror" Thunder. The Osborn Award -- established in 1993 to honor late critic Elisabeth Osborn -- goes to a rising writer with a distinctive voice. Previous Osborn winners include Anne Galjour's Hurricane (1994), Charlie Varon's Rush Limbaugh in Night School (1995), and Richard Kalinoski's Beast on the Moon (1996). ATCA's 250 member-critics see hundreds of new plays each year, yet only six that premiered outside New York City were nominated for the 1997 award. The other nominees were Stephen Daly's Lifeidreamedof (Chicago's Center Theater); Adam Goldberg's One on One (California's Lodi Drama Festival); Carter Lewis' An Asian Jockey in Our Midst (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Ann Noble's And Neither Have I Wings to Fly (California Conservatory Theatre); Jeff Resta's The Diva Classification System (Seattle's Annex Theatre). The organization recently awarded its 1997 New Play Award to Jane Martin for Jack and Jill at Humana Festival in Louisville.
--By David Lefkowitz