The awards, which come with a $50,000 cash prize, were created to "honor the accomplishments of some of the most gifted up-and-coming American playwrights, and to recognize the promise they hold for the future of American theatre." The Distinguished Playwright Awards recognize the work of theatre writers later in their careers.
Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect David Rockwell designed the statuettes. The biennial honor, known as the "Mimi," is part of the Steinberg Trust's initiative to support the work of new and established playwrights. The individual awards are presented in alternating years.
The 2011 advisory committee, who selected D'Amour and Gibson for the honor, includes Susan Booth (artistic director of the Alliance Theatre); Polly Carl (director of the American Voices New Play Institute); Jeremy Cohen (producing artistic director of The Playwrights’ Center); David Emmes (producing artistic director of the South Coast Repertory); Oskar Eustis (artistic director of The Public Theater); Todd London (artistic director of New Dramatists); and Lynne Meadow (artistic director of the Manhattan Theater Club).
"Our choice of these two writers reflects a commitment to not only celebrate this moment in their careers, but to ensure they continue sharing their unique, powerful and distinctly theatrical voices with audiences for many years to come," Cohen said in a statement.
Eustis added, "By supporting them, the Steinberg Trust is honoring their achievement, expressing confidence in their future, and making the world a better place for working playwrights." D'Amour's Detroit, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, debuted at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2010. Her plays have been produced by The Women’s Project, Clubbed Thumb, Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, New Georges, Salvage Vanguard Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company. Playbill.com first reported Nov. 11 that her play Detroit will play London's National Theatre in May 2012.
Gibson's Obie Award-winning play This was presented Off-Broadway by Playwrights Horizons in 2009. Her plays also include [sic], Suitcase, or, those who resemble files from a distance; Brooklyn Bridge; and Current Nobody. She has current commissions from the Atlantic Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club and Second Stage Theatre.