NEW YORK CITY: The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has announced the winners of the 2021 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award and the 2021 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. Douglas Williams was awarded the Osborn Award and a $1,000 cash prize for his play SHIP. J. Nicole Brooks was awarded the Steinberg/ATCA Award for their play Her Honor, Jane Byrne; she will receive a $25,000 cash prize.
Additionally, graveyard shift, by khat knotahaku, and Verböten, with music and lyrics by Jason Narducy and book by Brett Neveu, both received 2021 Steinberg/ATCA citations, with each citation carrying a $7,500 cash prize.
The Steinberg/ATCA Award recognizes an outstanding script that had its professional premiere outside of New York City. Due to the pandemic closures, the award committee considered works that received in-person productions in January, February, and March 2020; a virtual awards presentation took place on July 21. The combined annual prize purse of $40,000 makes the Steinberg/ATCA Award, which has honored new plays produced at regional theatres since 1977, one of the largest national new-play award programs. The award has been funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust since 2000.
Brooks’s Her Honor, Jane Byrne premiered at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company, where Brooks is an ensemble member. The play is set in 1981 and chronicles Chicago’s first woman mayor’s brief stint in the Cabrini-Green housing project.
Also awarded at the July 21 virtual presentation was Williams’s Osborn Award, an award that recognizes the work of a playwright who has not yet received a major production, such as an Off-Broadway or Broadway engagement, or received any other major national awards. The award is given in memory of critic, director, educator, and new play advocate M. Elizabeth “Betty” Osborn.
Williams’ SHIP had its world premiere at Azuka Theatre in Philadelphia, where Williams is playwright in residence, opening on Feb. 29, 2020. The play follows a young woman who returns from rehab to her seaside Connecticut hometown intent on becoming a tour guide at the local maritime museum.
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