The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust will present Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks with the 2018 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the 11th Annual “Mimi” Awards on Monday, December 3, 2018 at Lincoln Center Theater. The “Mimi” Awards are presented annually to honor the outstanding artistry and accomplishments of some of the most gifted American Playwrights.
“What an honor! What a joy! Thank you for your encouragement and support! The Steinberg Awards honor the most awesome playwrights. I’m thrilled to be included,” said Suzan-Lori Parks.
The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award is presented biennially to honor and encourage the artistic excellence and achievement of an American playwright whose body of work has made significant contributions to the American theatre. The recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award receives a cash award of $200,000.
“The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is honored to present the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award to Suzan-Lori Parks. We could not be prouder to acknowledge her incredible body of work,” Steinberg board member Jim Steinberg, said.
“Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the great writers of our time. 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,” said Advisory Committee Member, Oskar Eustis. “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.”
“Suzan-Lori Parks is a great American artist. When she burst onto the scene in 1989 with her first play in New York, we all had the sense that a brilliant new talent had arrived. Ever since, her prolific career has flourished and dazzled us all,” said Advisory Committee Member, Lynne Meadow. “Ms. Parks has created an extraordinary and varied body of work-original, provocative, brilliantly theatrical works-that have defined and illuminated two of the most important topics of our age: race and gender. Her voice is poetic, intellectual, and primal-provocative, theatrical, and fearless. I am thrilled that she is the 2018 recipient of the Steinberg Award.”
“Who am I to comment on the genius of Suzan-Lori Parks or her contributions to the American theater? When I embarked on a career in the theater, she was already canonical. Her plays, and her writing about playwriting, furnished me with some of my first dramaturgical primers; she was one of a few writers who shook up and cracked open my sense of the potential of the form and helped build my vocabulary-as she has done for so many theater-makers,” said Sarah Lunnie. “The 365 project was a heroic affirmation of democracy and of the value of storytelling in our public life. And before it was that, it was a heroic affirmation of a disciplined but patient artistic practice. She continues to write with unparalleled incisiveness and vision. How fortunate we are to have her in our midst.”
Suzan-Lori Parks was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” and is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog. She is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” prize recipient and she’s also received The Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Broadway credits include: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess which was awarded the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Topdog/Underdog, which starred Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def and was directed by George C. Wolfe. The play received a Tony Nomination and recently was named by the New York Times as the most important American play within the last 25 years. Other plays include: 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 and more recently Father Comes Home From The Wars (parts 1,2&3) (Pulitzer Prize Finalist). In 2003 Parks wrote a play a day culminating in 365 Days/365 Plays; the plays were produced globally in over 700 theatres, which, at the time, was said to be the largest theatrical grass-roots undertaking of its kind. More recently, to reflect on the current presidential administration Parks wrote 100 Plays For The First Hundred Days. Parks has authored a novel: Getting Mother’s Body which is published by Random House. Her screenplays include Girl6 (directed by Spike Lee); Their Eyes Were Watching God (produced by Oprah Winfrey); Anemone Me (produced by Christine Vachon and Todd Haynes) and she’s got two new screenplays in production: an adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son, (directed by Rashid Johnson) and The United States vs Billie Holiday, (directed by Lee Daniels.) She’s at work on a stage-musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come and two new stage plays, one of them: White Noise which will receive its world premiere this coming season and will be directed by Oskar Eustis. 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.
Along with a monetary award, playwrights receive “The Mimi,” a statuette designed by David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect.
In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates and select each recipient.
The 2018 Advisory Committee is comprised of Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, Public Theatre; Sarah Lunnie, Literary Director, Playwrights Horizons; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director, Manhattan Theatre Club; Hana S. Sharif, Associate Artistic Director, Baltimore Center Stage; Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage; Kent Thompson, Theatre Director, Producer and Author; and Les Waters, Theatre Director.
The Board of Directors of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole A. Krumland, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.