The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust today announced the names of the 20 outstanding early-to-mid-career playwrights who will be celebrated with 2020 Steinberg Playwright Awards in the amount of $10,000 each. As previously announced, these awards are being given in response to this extremely difficult year, and in an effort to better meet the immediate and pressing needs of playwrights.
The recipients of the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Awards are Ngozi Anyanwu, Lucas Baisch, Jocelyn Bioh, Christopher Chen, Jordan E. Cooper, Nathan Alan Davis, Guadalís Del Carmen, Steph Del Rosso, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Aleshea Harris, James Ijames, Candrice Jones, Hansol Jung, Anna Moench, Diana Oh, Madhuri Shekar, Sanaz Toossi, Leah Nanako Winkler, and Rhiana Yazzie.
“In what has been a devastating year for so many, it has been particularly painful to witness the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our theater community,” said William D. Zabel, a member of the Board of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. “While we would normally honor one master playwright this year with our $200,000 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, we felt that it was crucial at this time to support and recognize as many playwrights as possible. However, our broad intention and purpose remains the same: to celebrate, encourage, and spotlight exceptional playwriting.”
“Each of these writers is indispensable,” said Sarah Lunnie, Dramaturg and a member of the Trust’s 2020 Advisory Committee. “Together, they represent the ranginess and vitality of American playwriting in 2020. The committee is proud to celebrate their indelible work, and to affirm our belief in the future they are illuminating for us.”
“In this year of unprecedented challenges, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is truly a shining beacon of light for playwrights in our field,” said Hana S. Sharif, a member of the Trust’s 2020 Advisory Committee and Artistic Director, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. “In a year where stage doors are shuttered globally, the decision to shift this year’s Steinberg Playwright Award to celebrate 20 of our industry’s most exciting and innovative voices is a testament to the value playwrights have to our field, to our communities, and to our humanity. This diverse slate of awardees undoubtedly includes voices that will help define the next evolution of the American theater.”
“These 20 playwrights write with a bold, vital urgency and a common eye towards equity and social justice,” said Snehal Desai, a member of the Trust’s 2020 Advisory Committee and Artistic Director, East West Players. “Individually, their work has called us to bear witness in unforgettable ways, and moving forward, their voices are going to be essential in helping us make sense of all that has transpired this year, and to heal. Collectively, they are a formidable cohort; one that shows us the future of the American theater is in good hands.”
The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to playwrights in early and middle stages of their careers who have distinctive and compelling voices, and whose work exhibits exceptional talent and artistic excellence. The awards celebrate the accomplishments of some of the most gifted up-and-coming American Playwrights and honor the promise they hold for the future of American theater.
In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of seven prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates, and select recipients. However, in this unique year the Trust has brought together ten current and former advisory committee members to select this group of talented playwrights.
The 2020 Advisory Committee is comprised of P. Carl, Senior Distinguished Artist-In-Residence, Emerson College; Jeremy B. Cohen, Producing Artistic Director, Playwrights’ Center; Snehal Desai, Artistic Director, East West Players; Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater; Maria Manuela Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.; Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director, Young Vic Theatre; Sarah Lunnie, Dramaturg; Neil Pepe, Artistic Director, Atlantic Theater Company; Hana S. Sharif, Artistic Director, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; and Chay Yew, Director.
The Board of Trustees of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole A. Krumland, Susan C. Frunzi, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.
The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created by Harold Steinberg in 1986 in his name and the name of his late wife, Miriam. The Trust’s primary mission is to support and promote the American theater as a vital part of our culture by nurturing American Playwrights, encouraging the development and production of new American plays, and providing significant support to not-for-profit theater companies across the country.
Since its inception the Trust has given more than $100 million to more than a hundred theater organizations. These gifts have funded countless productions as well as the commissioning of playwrights, playwriting programs, and arts-in-education outreach programs for thousands of children in an effort to create and educate new generations of theatergoers.
The Trust also collaborated with the American Theater Critics Association to create and fund the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. That award is presented annually during the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theater of Louisville. Recipients of this award include E.M. Lewis, Lauren Yee, Michael Cristofer, Qui Nguyen, Rebecca Gilman, Lauren Gunderson, Robert Schenkkan, Yussef El Guindi, Bill Cain, E.M. Lewis, Moises Kaufman, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Lee Blessing, Craig Lucas, Lynn Nottage, Nilo Cruz, Horton Foote, Jane Martin, and Regina Taylor.
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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.
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