Jointly sponsored by ATCA and the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, the Primus Prize is given annually to an emerging woman theatre artist. Playwrights, artistic directors, and directors are also eligible.
Svich's play is a dramatic adaptation of Isabel Allende's novel, "The House of the Spirits," "which follows the fortunes of three generations of a Chilean family, especially its women, against the backdrop of political upheaval that shaped and split the country during the major part of the 20th century," according to the ATCA. "That Svich could translate such an encyclopedic work into a concise and emotionally powerful play is admirable enough, but she does it with a wonderful mix of poetry, song, and earthy realism that brings the characters and events that shape their lives to vibrant life."
The House of the Spirits was read as part of the 2010 Colorado New Play Summit and given a full production at the Denver Center Theatre Company in fall 2010. A Spanish-language version premiered in 2009 at Repertorio Espanol/NY, where it won numerous awards. The Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis staged a bilingual production last fall.
Svich was selected from 22 nominees by ATCA's nationwide committee of critics, headed by Barbara Bannon and composed of Marianne Evett, Kathryn Osenlund, Lynn Rosen and Herb Simpson.
Founded in 1997 in memory of actress, critic and ATCA member Francesca Primus, the Primus Prize has been overseen by ATCA since 2004, when the qualifications were expanded to include directors and artistic directors. Svich's others plays include Instructions for Breathing, Wreckage, Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart, 12 Ophelias and The Booth Variations.
ATCA is the national organization of theatre critics, an affiliate of the International Association of Theatre Critics. In addition to the Primus Prize, it administers the $40,000 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. ATCA members also recommend a regional theater for the annual Tony Award and vote on induction into the Theater Hall of Fame. For further information, visit www.americantheatrecritics.org.
Previous Winners of the Francesca Primus Prize
1997 Julia Jordan, playwright, Tatjana in Color
1998 Brooke Berman, playwright, Wonderland
1999 Melanie Marnich, playwright, Blur
2000 Brooke Berman, playwright, Playing House
2001 S. M. Shepard-Massat, playwright, Some Place Soft to Fall
2002 Alexandra Cunningham, playwright, Pavane
2004 Lynn Nottage, playwright, Intimate Apparel
2005 Michelle Hensley, artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company, Minneapolis
2006 Karen Zacarias, playwright and founder/artistic director of Young Playwrights' Theater, Washington, DC, Mariela in the Desert
2007 Victoria Stewart, playwright, Hardball
2008 EM Lewis, playwright, Heads
2009 Jamie Pachino, playwright, Splitting Infinity
2010 Michele Lowe, playwright, Inana