By Michael Gioia
18 Jun 2012
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 eligible.
Ryan's play, according to ATCA, "poignantly and powerfully integrates a personal story with a current world issue. When single mother Christine meets Gabriel, one of the 'lost boys' from Sudan, in the produce section of a Pittsburgh Whole Foods where he works, the two form a relationship that changes both their lives. The play avoids easy, feel-good answers in exploring the very different ways that Christine and Gabriel think he should deal with the challenges he faces."
Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods was developed in 2009 at the New Harmony Project, won the Premiere Stages Play Festival, and was workshopped at the Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and the Lark Play Development Center. Premiere Stages and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey co-produced the play in September 2010; Playhouse Rep, the professional company at the Point Park University Pittsburgh Playhouse, staged a production the following fall.
Ryan was selected by a nationwide committee of critics chaired by Barbara Bannon and composed of Julie York Coppens, Marianne Evett, Lynn Rosen and Herb Simpson. The committee announced an additional commendation to playwright Dominique Morisseau for Follow Me to Nellie's, her portrait of how a Mississippi brothel and its outspoken madam become entwined in the civil rights struggle to register black voters in 1955.
Ryan's other plays include Lindsey's Oyster, a cooperative production with Turkish playwright Zeynep Kaçar on what it means to be female in their different societies, A Confluence of Dreaming, FBI Girl: How I Learned to Crack My Father's Code, Dark Part of the Forest, Baby's Blues, The Music Lesson and Pig.
Founded in 1997 in memory of actress, critic and ATCA member Francesca Primus, the Primus Prize was originally administered by the Denver Center Theatre Company. ATCA began overseeing the award in 2004.
Previous recipients of the Francesca Primus Prize include Julia Jordan (Tatjana in Color), Brooke Berman (Wonderland), Melanie Marnich (Blur), Brooke Berman (Playing House), S.M. Shepard-Massat (Some Place Soft to Fall), Alexandra Cunningham (Pavane), Lynn Nottage (Intimate Apparel), Michelle Hensley (artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company), Karen Zacarias (Mariela in the Desert), Victoria Stewart (Hardball), EM Lewis (Heads), Jamie Pachino (Splitting Infinity), Michele Lowe (Inana) and Caridad Svich (The House of the Spirits).
ATCA is the nationwide organization of theatre critics and an affiliate of the International Association of Theatre Critics. It also administers the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. ATCA members also recommend a regional theatre for the annual Tony Award and vote on induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
For more information, visit AmericanTheatreCritics.org.