By Michael Gioia
08 Apr 2013
Wm. F. Hirschman, chair of ATCA's New Play committee, presented the award to Schenkkan for his play about Lyndon Johnson's dogged campaign to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
All The Way was described by ATCA judges as "an engrossing, epic depiction of Johnson's struggle to get the Civil Rights Act passed through a recalcitrant Congress while simultaneously balancing an imminent election campaign. This masterfully constructed tale is an unblinking look at the gritty nature of compromise and pragmatism in a good cause that thrusts us into the deepest, darkest corners of a political firestorm. Schenkkan creates a flawed hero who is complex, obscene, brilliant and ruthless and committed to using his power in a pivotal moment in this country's social evolution."
All the Way premiered July 25 as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's American Revolutions commission program and will open American Repertory Theatre's season in September.
Two citations that carry $7,500 each were presented to Lucas Hnath for Death Tax and Johnna Adams for Gidion's Knot. At a total of $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award focusing on regional theatres as the crucible for new plays in the United States.
Adams' Gidions Knot received its world premiere in July at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV, and Hnath's Death Tax bowed last spring at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival.
The winners were selected from 42 eligible scripts submitted by ATCA members. They were evaluated by a committee of 15 theatre critics, led by chairman Hirschman. Other committee members are Misha Berson, Seattle Times; Bruce Burgun, Bloomington Herald Times and Back Stage; Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times; Mark Cofta, Philadelphia City Paper; Michael Elkin, Jewish Exponent; Pam Harbaugh, Florida Today; Michael P. Howley, theatremontgomery.blogspot.com; Elizabeth Keill, Independent Press; Jerry Kraft, www.SeattleActor.com; Julius Novick, veteran critic and professor; Kathryn Osenlund, Curtain Up; Wendy Parker, The Village Mill; David Sheward, Back Stage; Herb Simpson, totaltheater.com; and Tim Treanor, DC Theater Scene.
In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City. Since 2000, the award has been funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Donald Margulies, Lynn Nottage, Moises Kaufman and Craig Lucas. Last year's honoree was Yussef El Guindi for Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World.
Also on April 6, ATCA presented the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, which recognizes emerging playwrights, to Keri Healey of Seattle for her play Torso.