The award is presented bi-annually to an American writer of Middle Eastern background, and is selected by a consortium including Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco), Lark Play Development Center (New York) and Silk Road Theatre Project (Chicago). It includes a $10,000 commission to write a new play. The author can choose the subject matter and will receive artistic development support for two years, with possible productions at Silk Road and Golden Thread.
The award's 2008 winner, Adriana Sevahn Nichols, wrote and developed the play Night Over Erzinga, about three generations of an Armenian immigrant family living in America. The play was presented at Golden Thread in September 2010, after a workshop at Lark's BareBones program in June 2010.
El Guindi's plays include Our Enemies, Back of the Throat and jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes. Our Enemies received the Osborn Award.
El Guindi and representatives of each theatre in the consortium will travel to Chicago, New York and San Francisco as the play develops and is performed. They will observe the play's creative process and hold public discussions and panel events talking about Middle Eastern American voices.
The award is part of Middle East America: A National New Plays Initiative, a first-of-its-kind tri-coastal collaboration designed to encourage and support the development of Middle Eastern American playwrights and plays of the highest artistic caliber and to enrich the canon of American dramatic literature. The program aims to challenge both the lack of representation and the one-dimensional stereotypical representation of persons of Middle Eastern descent on America's stages.