Technology with attitude

Finalists announced for biggest playwriting prize in the USA

Shanga Parker as Musa and Carol Roscoe as Sheri in 'Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World' at ACT Theatre (photo by Chris Bennion)

Every year, the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) selects a play for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally specifically outside New York City. The winning play gets a $25,000 award. Two other plays get $7,500 each and they all get presented at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. This year’s festival is March 31.

The six finalists for this year’s award have been announced.

Annapurna by Sharr White, reunites a mortally ill cantankerous poet who has moved to the Colorado mountains and the ex-wife he has not seen in 20 years who wants a reckoning if not a reconciliation. (November, 2011 at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco)

Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them by A. Rey Pamatmat, portrays an especially untraditional family made up of three young misfits: a brilliant 16-year-old and his precocious 12-year-old sister abandoned by their widowed father to raise themselves, and the brother’s lover shunned by a family rejecting his nascent homosexuality. It’s an uplifting and meaningful comic drama infused with empathy and wry humor. (Spring, 2011, Humana Festival)

On The Spectrum by Ken LaZebnik, connects a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome passing as “typical” after years of mainstreaming and therapy with a woman who proudly champions her autism as a difference, not a disorder. Should success be measured by how the world accepts you or by how you accept yourself? (November, 2011 at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis)

Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World by Yussef El Guindi, is a romantic comedy with a twist: an Egyptian cabbie strikes up a romance with a quirky American-born waitress, while still affianced in an arrangement to an assimilated Egyptian woman he hasn’t broken up with yet. (June, 2011 at ACT Theatre in Seattle)

A Twist of Water by Caitlin Montanye Parrish, focuses on a gay white father who struggles to raise his black, adopted, teenage daughter after the death of his longtime husband. When the girl seeks out her birth mother, the father’s relationship with her is pressed to the breaking point. Forgiveness, resilience, and living life after a death are potent subjects. (Route 66 Theatre in Chicago)

Water By The Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes, brings a soldier home from the Iraqi war to struggle with his mother, a recovering heroin addict and Internet chat-room addict. Love, family and community are stretched across time, generations and cyberspace. (October, 2011 at Hartford Stage)

For a full list of 35 years of winners and runners-up, go to and click on Steinberg-ATCA under Awards.