NEW YORK CITY: The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust has awarded Suzan-Lori Parks the 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. Parks will receive a $200,000 cash prize and a statuette designed by David Rockwell at a ceremony on Dec. 3 at Lincoln Center Theater.
The Mimi Awards are presented biannually to honor and encourage an American playwright whose body of work has made a significant impact on the field. This year’s advisory committee included Oskar Eustis, Sarah Lunnie, Lynne Meadow, Hana S. Sharif, Molly Smith, Kent Thompson, and Les Waters.
“Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the great writers of our time,” said Eustis in a statement. “Her fearless experimentation, her refusal to be confined by any categories or boundaries, her dazzling linguistic prowess and her joyous embrace of the struggle have made her an inspiration and role model for countless other artists. Her great subject is freedom, a freedom exemplified in her forms and her content. She has also defied Fitzgerald’s dictum that American artists have no second acts: In her maturity she is writing with a boldness and originality that amazes. She is a most fitting recipient of the Steinberg Award.”
Parks was the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog. She was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave.” She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant and the Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Her works include The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical), Topdog/Underdog (Tony nomination), In The Blood (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Fucking A, The Death of The Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World aka The Negro Book of the Dead, Father Comes Home From The Wars (parts 1,2&3) (Pulitzer Prize finalist), 365 Days/365 Plays, and 100 Plays for the First Hundred Days. Parks has also written a novel, Getting Mother’s Body, and her screenplays include Girl6 and Their Eyes Were Watching God. She’s got two new screenplays in production: an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son and The United States vs Billie Holiday. She’s also working on a stage musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come. She has two new stage plays, one of which, White Noise, will receive its world premiere this spring at the Public Theater.
Parks is the Public Theater’s Master Writer Chair, where she performs Watch Me Work, a weekly writing class free of charge and open to all. She also writes songs and fronts her band: Suzan-Lori Parks & the Band.
“What an honor!,” said Parks in a statement. “What a joy! Thank you for your encouragement and support! The Steinberg Awards honor the most awesome playwrights. I’m thrilled to be included.”