Presented biennially "to award excellence in American Theater," the first winners include Lynne Nottage's Ruined for Outstanding New American Play and Will Eno's Middletown for Promising New American Play.
Nottage and Eno will be honored at a private reception Sept. 20 at The Players in New York City. Each playwright will be presented with $15,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter's photograph of Horton Foote.
As contenders for Outstanding New American Play and Promising New American Play, Nottage and Eno were nominated by Manhattan Theatre Club and Vineyard Theatre, respectively.
Mari Marchbanks, founder and executive director of the Horton Foote Prizes, said in a statement, "Horton Foote is widely regarded as one of the leading American dramatists of our time. He wrote some of our most beloved works and his lifelong dedication to, and his passion for, the theatre was boundless. In celebrating the life and legacy of Horton Foote, the Prize honors the work of the American playwright. We hope the Prize inspires its recipients in their continued contribution to the canon of American theater."
The selection committee included Chair Michael Bigelow-Dixon, Pam MacKinnon and Lisa Portes. The four judges were selected personally by Mr. Foote and are artistic directors with whom he worked closely: André Bishop (Lincoln Center Theater), James Houghton (Signature Theatre), Andrew Leynse (Primary Stages) and Michael Wilson (Hartford Stage). The judges' theatres were exempt from the selection process. Ruined had its world premiered as a co-production with Goodman Theatre in November 2008 and Manhattan Theatre Club in February 2009. The world premiere of Middletown at the Vineyard Theatre will begin previews Oct. 13.