The “Mimi” Awards, in the amount of $100,000 each, are presented annually to playwrights in early and middle stages of their careers "who have distinctive and compelling voices, and whose work exhibits exceptional talent and artistic excellence."
In 2020, the Trust temporarily restructured the awards to reach a greater number of writers. This year, the Trust returns closer to the origins of the award by honoring two early to mid-career playwrights with an increased monetary prize. This is in acknowledgment of the tough times facing artists as they come out of the pandemic.
“I am honored to be selected for this year’s award! Awards like the Steinberg Playwright Prize give writers freedoms and options!” says Ijames. “I’m thankful for this award and humbled to be joining such an amazing roster of past recipients.”
Previous recipients of the Steinberg Playwright Award include Bruce Norris, Lisa D’Amour, Melissa James Gibson, Rajiv Joseph, Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dominique Morisseau, Ayad Akhtar, Lucas Hnath, Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Lauren Yee.
“It is completely surprising, and deeply humbling, to be listed among all these previous Mimi recipients. The Steinberg Trust has a long history of extraordinary impact on the ecology of American playwriting,” adds Suh. “Over the past few years of course, it’s been uncommonly difficult to make theatre; so many industries have been hit particularly hard, and ours is certainly one of them. An award of this size is life-changing. It provides essential, unprecedented support, and I hope to prove myself worthy of such an incredible honor.”
“This year’s awardees both epitomize the best of our art form through their evocative and transformative plays,” states Advisory Committee Member Hana Sharif. “Lloyd Suh and James Ijames craft worlds that are deeply intellectual, yet carry the pulse of the everyman, the spirit of a liberator, the voice of a poet, and the imagination of a prophet. Their work excavates our cultural, historical, and psychological legacies, ultimately offering us access to the greatest expression of our full humanity.”
The 2022 Advisory Committee is comprised of Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director, The Playwrights' Center; Snehal Desai, artistic director, East West Players; Oskar Eustis, artistic director, The Public Theater; Maria Manuela Goyanes, artistic director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.; Sarah Lunnie, dramaturg; Neil Pepe, artistic director, Atlantic Theater Company; and Hana S. Sharif, artistic director, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Playwright, director, and educator Ijames received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for his play Fat Ham, which will arrive on Broadway later this season. He is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient and received two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size (Simpatico Theatre Company) and Gem of the Ocean (Arden Theatre). He is also the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ....Miz Martha, a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award, and a 2019 Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise.
Suh is the author of The Far Country, currently playing at Atlantic Theater Company, and The Heart Sellers, which will premiere at Milwaukee Rep in February. Other plays include The Chinese Lady, Bina’s Six Apples, Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Franklinland, and Jesus in India. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Horton Foote Prize, Helen Merrill Award, and Lilah Kan Red Socks Award.
The Board of Trustees of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole Krumland, Susan Frunzi, James Steinberg, Michael Steinberg, Seth Weingarten, and William Zabel.