Mari Marchbanks (Founder and Executive Director) announced today that The 2020 Horton Foote Prize has been awarded to Lloyd Suh for his play The Chinese Lady. Awarded since 2010, the biennial prize is named in honor of the late playwright, and recognizes excellence in American theatre.
Mr. Suh’s achievements will be celebrated at a private online reception on Sunday, September 13th. Click HERE to view the online presentation of the prize. He will be presented with $50,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote, which is found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Suh’s The Chinese Lady was nominated for The Horton Foote Prize by Ma-Yi Theater Company (New York). Over 70 theatres throughout the country, all with a strong history for producing new work, were invited to submit a produced or unproduced play for consideration. After a national reading committee narrowed the field, ensuring that each script received multiple blind readings, a selection committee selected the top finalists to be presented to the judges.
The four judges of the 2020 Horton Foote Prize are award-winning actor, and daughter of Horton Foote, Hallie Foote, serving as Chair; Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield; Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra; and award-winning playwright and director Chay Yew.
Inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh spins a tale of dark poetic whimsy in this piercing portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman. The Chinese Lady follows Afong Moy, Age 14, brought to the United States in 1834 from Beijing, and put on display for the American public. Over the next 45 years, she performs in a sideshow that both defines and challenges her own view of herself. Blurring the line between the observed and the observer, The Chinese Lady gives us new eyes on the history of American entitlement and immigration.
“…by the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history. She’s no longer the Chinese lady. She is us.”
Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times
Regarding Mr. Suh’s play, Judge Chair Hallie Foote commented, “Told with humanity and humor, this play haunted me. Lloyd Suh explores memory, and longing, loss and fortitude. He gently makes us think, ponder and examine our beliefs and all the things we take for granted.”
Commissioned by Ma-Yi Theater Company, The Chinese Lady began its journey as a Co-world premiere, first premiering at Barrington Stage Company, followed by a production presented by Ma-Yi Theater in New York in November 2018. Continuing with critically acclaimed productions across the country throughout the spring of 2019 and the 2019/20 season, the COVID-19 shutdown cancelled a planned production at Long Wharf Theatre, with slated productions planned for the 20/21 season delayed for the time being.
Lloyd Suh is the author of plays including The Chinese Lady, Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery, American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Franklinland, and others, which have been produced at theaters across the country including Ma-Yi, Magic, EST, NAATCO, Milwaukee Rep, Children’s Theatre Company, PlayCo, ArtsEmerson, Denver Center, and more, including internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea. He is a resident playwright of New Dramatists, a Lifetime Member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Actors Studio, an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and a graduate of Indiana University and The New School. He was a recipient of a 2016 Helen Merrill Award from the New York Community Trust and the 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and a 2020 Guggeheim Fellowship in the field of Drama and Performance Art. He has served since 2015 as a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.
Previous recipients of the Horton Foote Prize include Lynn Nottage for Ruined, Will Eno for Middletown, David Lindsay-Abaire for Good People, Naomi Wallace for The Liquid Plain, Dan O’Brien for The Body of an American, Suzan-Lori Parks for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3), Jordan Harrison for Marjorie Prime, Zayd Dohrn for The Profane, Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, and Jaclyn Backhaus for India Pale Ale.
The Horton Foote Prize is funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation of Austin, Texas.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection,1989-2011, is in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and can be accessed here.
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