As the American Theatre Critics Association gears up for its annual mini-meeting in New York (complete with conferences and a star-studded lunch at Sardi's Restaurant, May 3), the organization is also busy announcing its awards and future plans, such as the winner of this year's Betty Osborn Award for an emerging playwright, to be announced May 2 at the Plymouth Theatre.
The Winner of this year's all-around New Play Award is the pseudonymous "Jane Martin," author of the romantic/anti-romantic, comedy/drama about modern relationships, Jack & Jill. That play had a leg up on the other candidates, since ATCA critics from across the country were able to see the work produced at their summer 1996 trip to Miami. The award was presented at an 8:30 PM, pre-show ceremony at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, April 5. The show was staged at Louisville in March 1996.
Runners up this year (who also receive awards) are Alfred Uhry's The Last Night Of Ballyhoo (a Pulitzer runner-up) and Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan. The $1,000 stipend for the top play is funded by the Orlando Sentinel, through the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association.
Only nine scripts were nominated for the award this year. The other nominees: Stephen Daly's Lifeidreamedof (Chicago's Center Theater); Keith Glover's Thunder Knocking on the Door (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Carter Lewis's An Asian Jockey in Our Midst (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Emily Mann's Greensboro (McCarter Theatre); Ann Noble's And Neither Have I Wings to Fly (California Conservatory Theatre); and Peter Parnell's adaptation of The Cider House Rules, Part I (Seattle Repertory Theatre).
The ATCA prize goes to plays that premiere outside New York City (Ballyhoo was commissioned by Atlanta's Cultural Olympiad and staged at the Alliance Theatre; Miller's play premiered at MA's Williamstown Theatre Festival. Ms. "Martin's" previous plays include Keely And Du and Talking With..., which won the 1994 ATCA New Play award. Not only will the three winners receive citations, excerpts from their three plays will be published in the annual Burns Mantle Theatre Yearbook of "Best Plays." Previous ATCA winners include Fences, A Walk In The Woods and Romulus Linney's Heathen Valley.
This year's s annual, major ATCA conference will take place in Salt Lake City, UT, July 14-20.
--By David Lefkowitz