The top award and two citations will be presented to the playwrights March 27 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. The top award includes a commemorative plaque and a cash prize of $25,000; the citations carry prizes of $7,500 each.
The finalists (with comments by ATCA) are:
Victoria Musica, by Michele Lowe, "marks the first time a playwright has been independently nominated for two plays in one season, let alone become a finalist for both. First produced Sept. 26 by the Cincinnati Playhouse, it tells of an arts critic obsessed to find the truth behind the possibility that a world-renowned cellist had faked her extraordinary recordings before her death. The result is an examination of the true nature of artistry and the pressures accompanying fame." The Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award honors new plays produced at regional theatres outside New York City, where there are many other awards. No play is eligible if it has gone on to a New York production within the award year. (Manhattan Theatre Club's current productions of Equivocation and Time Stands Still, for example, surfaced in New York City in the 2010 calendar year.)
These six 2009 finalists were selected from plays nominated by ATCA members, then evaluated by a committee of 13 theatre critics, led by chairman Wm. F. Hirschman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Other committee members are Misha Berson, Seattle Times; Bruce Burgun, Bloomington Herald Times and Back Stage; Michael Elkin, Jewish Exponent (Pennsylvania); Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Pam Harbaugh, Florida Today (Melbourne, FL); Leonard Jacobs, (New York Press, Back Stage, and Editor, The Clyde Fitch Report); Elizabeth Keill, Independent Press (Morristown, N.J.); Elizabeth Maupin, Orlando Sentinel; Wendy Parker, The Village Mill (Midlothian, VA); Michael Sander, Back Stage (Minnesota); Herb Simpson, totaltheater.com (Genesco, NY); and Tim Treanor, DC Theater Scene (Washington, DC).
Each year's winning plays are chronicled in "The Best Plays Theater Yearbook," edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, alongside the ten best plays produced that year in New York City. For a complete list of the 83 plays cited from 1977 through 2009, go to www.americantheatrecritics.org, under Awards.
The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife. Pursuing its primary mission to support the American theatre, it has provided grants totaling many millions of dollars to support new productions of American plays and educational programs for those who may not ordinarily experience live theatre.
ATCA was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of critics' functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theatre critics who work for print, broadcast and online media, ATCA is a national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization. For more information on ATCA, visit www.americantheatrecritics.org.
ATCA also presents the M. Elizabeth Osborn Award, honoring emerging playwrights, and the Francesca Primus Prize, funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation and honoring outstanding contributions to the American theatere by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence. Annually it makes a recommendation for the Regional Theater Tony Award presented by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League and votes on inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.