Mia McCullough has won the 2002 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, given by the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) to honor up-and-coming playwrights. The award will be presented Feb. 23 in a ceremony at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City as part of ATCA's annual New York "mini-meeting" conference. McCullough will receive a $1,000 cash grant, travel expenses and a commemorative plaque.
McCullough's play, Chagrin Falls, was staged in Fall 2001 by Stage Left Theatre in Chicago, in a production directed by Kevin Hackman. The play tells of a young reporter who travels to Chagrin Falls, Oklahoma, to interview a death-row inmate and ask him for forgiveness. Though she does not get the interview, she learns that the town's economy depends on killing people and cows, and the residents bear the grief and guilt that institutionalized death brings on.
The M. Elizabeth Osborn Award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of a distinguished author, script editor and mentor to playwrights. The award, chosen annually by ATCA's New Play's Committee, recognizes a play by a writer whose work has not received a major production and who has not yet attained national recognition.
The chair of the ATCA's New Plays Committee, Alec Harvey of the Birmingham (Alabama) News, reported that one of his committee members called McCullough's play: "a splendid piece of writing" and said "She is a full-fledged playwright, unusually talented."
McCullough graduated from Northwestern University's Creative Writing for Media program and has written 11 plays. Chagrin Falls also won the 2001 Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. McCullough is a member of The Playwrights Collective, The Dramatists Guild, the American Theater Company Relatives, and she's a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. She lives in Evanston, Illinois and also works on a crisis line at a shelter for battered women and their children in the Chicago area, in addition to facilitating a creative writing group for women in the shelter once a month. The American Theatre Critics Association works to raise the professional critical standards and public awareness of critics' functions and responsibilities. It is a member of the International Association of Theatre Critics and is the only national association of professional theatre critics.
— by Keith Lazarus