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James Ijames (photo by Justin DeWalt) and Lloyd Suh (photo by Karin Shook)

James Ijames and Lloyd Suh Win 2022 Steinberg Playwright Awards

Both playwrights will receive $100,000, an increased prize amount reflecting the Steinberg Trust’s acknowledgement of tough times facing writers.

NEW YORK: The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust announced today that James Ijames and Lloyd Suh are the recipients of this year’s Steinberg Playwright Awards. Each playwright will receive a $100,000 prize.

“I am honored to be selected for this year’s award, which gives writers freedom and options,” Ijames said in a statement. “I’m thankful for this award and humbled to be joining such an amazing roster of past recipients.”

“It is completely surprising and deeply humbling to be listed among these previous Mimi Award recipients,” Suh added in a statement. “An award of this size provides essential, unprecedented support, and I hope to prove myself worthy of such an incredible honor.”

In 2020, the Trust temporarily restructured the awards to reach a greater number of writers to address the pandemic’s impact on playwrights, giving out $10,000 each to 20 playwrights in 2020 and 10 in 2021. This year, the Trust is offering an increased monetary prize to its two honorees in acknowledgment of the tough times that artists are facing in the third year of the pandemic (it is now double what it was in 2019), and has expanded the award’s eligibility parameters to ensure that any artist whose career progressed during the pandemic still has the opportunity to be recognized as an early- to mid-career artist.

Ijames won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fat Ham, which is transferring to Broadway next season. A playwright, director, and educator, his work has been produced by the Wilma Theater, TheatreExile, the National Black Theatre, the Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and many more. His work has been developed with Clubbed Thumb, Playwrights Horizons, the Lark, and others, and he is the recipient of multiple directing and playwriting awards, including the 2015 Terrence McNally New Play Award for WHITE and the 2019 Kesselring Prize for Kill Move Paradise. Ijames was a founder of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright-producing collective, and is a graduate of Morehouse College and Temple University. He is an associate professor of theatre at Villanova University.

Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady, produced with Ma-Yi Theater Company at the Public, was the most-produced play nationally in TCG member theatres’ 2021-22 season. His play The Far Country is currently running at the Atlantic Theater Company and his new play The Heart Sellers will premiere at Milwaukee Repertory Theater in February. His work has been produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Geva Theatre Center, the Guthrie Theater with Theater Mu, ArtsEmerson, and many others, and has also been produced in the Philippines and South Korea. Suh is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Horton Foote Prize, among others, and was elected to the Dramatists Guild Council in 2016. He is the former artistic director of Second Generation Theatre, co-director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and director of artistic programs at the Lark.

“This year’s awardees both epitomize the best of our art form through their evocative and transformative plays,” advisory committee member Hana S. Sharif said in a statement. “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.”

The 2022 charitable trust advisory committee that nominated candidates and selected recipients includes Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director of the Playwrights’ Center; Snehal Desai, artistic director of East West Players; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public; Maria Manuela Goyanes, artistic director of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; dramaturg Sarah Lunnie; Neil Pepe, artistic director, Atlantic Theater Company; and Hana Sharif, artistic director of Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was established by Harold Steinberg in 1968 to support and promote the American theatre as a vital part of our culture. The Trust nurtures American playwrights by encouraging the development and production of new American plays and providing support to nonprofit theatres nationwide. Since its inception, the Trust has given more than $100 million to over 100 theatre organizations.

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