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David Lindsay-abaire and Naomi Wallace Named 2012 Recipients of the Horton Foote Prize

Rick Miramontez / Elizabeth Wagner
rick@oandmco.com / elizabeth@oandmco.com




New York, NY (9/4/12) – Mari Marchbanks (Founder and Executive Director) announced today the 2012 recipients of the Horton Foote Prize, named in honor of the legendary writer, to award excellence in American Theater.  Presented biennially, the 2012 Prize for the 2010-11/2011-12 seasons Outstanding New American Play is awarded to Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire. The 2012 Prize for Promising New American Play is awarded to The Liquid Plain by Naomi Wallace

Mr. Lindsay-Abaire and Ms. Wallace will be honored at a private reception on Monday, October 1st at The Lotos Club in New York City.  To celebrate their exceptional contributions to American Theater, each playwright will be presented with $15,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote. (In the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Mr. Lindsay-Abaire and Ms. Wallace were nominated by Manhattan Theatre Club and Oregon Shakespeare Festival respectively. 55 resident theaters throughout the country, all with a strong history for producing new work, were invited to submit a produced or unproduced play for consideration. With produced works, its premiere production must have occurred after January 1, 2010 and no later than June 30, 2012. (Eligibility dates reflect an ongoing shift by the Prize to award by theater season, rather than by year.) Nominated playwrights must be the author of a minimum of four original full-length plays which have been fully produced by professional theaters.

In a statement, Ms. Marchbanks said, “Mr. Foote worked at his craft for over 70 years, contributing to the world some of our most beloved works; writing over 60 plays, movies and TV dramas. He also took great delight in his fellow playwrights, in what they were writing, and in the growth of their individual literary canons. With these awards the Prize says “Thank you” to the American playwright for the important work they do. We hope the Prize inspires its recipients in their continued contribution to the canon of American theater.”

After a national reading committee narrowed the field, ensuring that each script received multiple blind readings, a selection committee including Chair Jeremy B. Cohen (Producing Artistic Director, Playwrights' Center), Mark Rucker (Associate Artistic Director, American Conservatory Theater), Lisa Steindler (Executive Artistic Director, Z Space), and Madeleine Oldham (Resident Dramaturg, Berkeley Repertory Theatre), selected the top contenders to be presented to the final judges.  The four judges of 2012 The Horton Foote Prize are Chair Michael Wilson (Director of Horton Foote's The Orphans’ Home Cycle and the current Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man),  Casey Childs (Founder and Executive Producer, Primary Stages), Paige Evans (Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater’s LCT3), and Evan Yionoulis (Resident Director, Yale Repertory Theatre).

On behalf of the judges, Chair Michael Wilson said, “The 2012 Prize Committee was very impressed by the diverse spectrum of work that was nominated.  Horton was always eager to see new American plays, and curious to read exciting works still in search of production. He knew how difficult it is for writers to get their stories before audiences, having written a number of amazing plays that languished for years waiting to be staged.  But his tremendous faith in our American theater to reveal our national character – our collective American experience – emboldened him to keep going.  The Committee is grateful to the Marchbanks Family Foundation for establishing this distinguished Prize in Horton’s name, which honors the very best of both our current and future American plays.”

Wilson continued, “Good People is an extremely moving, deeply human play that poignantly examines the ways in which class divides our nation, and poses the complicated question of what makes ‘good people’.  David Lindsay-Abaire is an extraordinary writer, and Good People – perhaps his most mature work to date – is most deserving of the 2012 Horton Foote Prize Award for Outstanding New American Play.”

Good People had its world premiere with Manhattan Theatre Club in February 20011. Exploring the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America, Good People tells the story of Boston Lower End “Southie” Margie Walsh, who has just been let go from yet another job. Facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break, Margie thinks an old fling who's made it out of Southie might be her ticket to a fresh new start. But is this apparently self-made man secure enough to face his humble beginnings? Margie risks what little she has left to find out.

“Naomi Wallace is an astonishingly imaginative voice,” commented Wilson, “who along with Tennessee Williams, is one of two only two American playwrights to have ever been represented in the La Comédie Française répertoire in over 300 years.  Her new play, The Liquid Plain, explores a shameful chapter in our nation’s history.  Employing both a thrilling and unconventional narrative, Wallace’s latest work is our selection for the 2012 Horton Foote Prize Award for Promising New American Play.”

The world premiere of The Liquid Plain at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will begin previews July 2, 2013 with Opening Night set for July 6, 2013. The Liquid Plain brings to life a group of people whose stories have been lost in history. Set in 18th-century Providence, Rhode Island, two runaway slaves find love and a near-drowned sailor. As the mysteries of their identities come to light, painful truths about the past and present collide and flow into the next generation. Ms. Wallace’s The Liquid Plain is part of OSF’s first class of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle commissions.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his play The Young Man From Atlanta and two Academy Awards for his screenplays for the films To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies, Horton Foote had his work produced on Broadway, off-Broadway as well as in theaters throughout the United States. His many honors, in addition to the Pulitzer and Academy Awards®, include Drama Desk, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama and the 2000 National Medal of Arts Award from President Bill Clinton. He is also a member of The Theatre Hall of Fame.  The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Mr. Foote’s nine-play epic directed by Michael Wilson, was produced in New York by the Signature Theatre Company in spring 2010 and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, 2010; the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, 2010; the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, 2010; and a special citation from the Drama Desk Awards for Theatrical Event of the Season.

The Horton Foote Prizes are funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation of Austin, Texas.


David Lindsay-Abaire's play Good People has also received the 2011 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony nominations. It premiered on Broadway last season by Manhattan Theatre Club in February 2011.  A Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, lyricist and librettist, David's previous play, Rabbit Hole, premiered on Broadway, and went on to receive the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Spirit of America Award, and five Tony nominations (including Best Play.)  His previous play, Kimberly Akimbo, was commissioned by South Coast Rep, premiered at that theater, received the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for playwriting, three Garland Awards, and the Kesselring Prize.  The play went on to a sold-out New York run at MTC where it was hailed as “The Comedy of the Year” by The New York Times.  David’s play Wonder of the World premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre where it was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award as Outstanding New Play of the Year, and also went on to a sold-out New York run at MTC.  His Fuddy Meers premiered at MTC in the fall of 1999, and later transferred to The Minetta Lane Theatre for a commercial run.  Fuddy has since received over five hundred productions around the country and abroad, including on London’s West End.  David was most recently nominated for a Grammy Award with Composer Jeanine Tesori (Best Musical Show Album), and two Tony Awards (Best Book of a Musical and Best Score) for their work on Shrek The Musical.   Prior to that, David was awarded the 2008 Ed Kleban Award as America’s most promising musical theater lyricist.  In addition to his work in theatre, David's film credits include his screen adaptation of Rabbit Hole (Academy Award nomination for Nicole Kidman), as well as the upcoming features Rise of the Guardians (Dreamworks), and Oz: The Great and Powerful (Disney).  David is a proud New Dramatists alum, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Juilliard School, as well as a member of the WGA and the Dramatists Guild Council.

Naomi Wallace's new play The Liquid Plain will receive its world premiere in July 2013 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her work has been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and the United States.   Her major plays include One Flea Spare, In the Heart of America, Slaughter City, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours, The Fever Chart: Three Short Visions of the Middle East and And I And Silence. Her work has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Kesselring Prize, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, and an Obie. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.  Her award-winning film Lawn Dogs is available on DVD.  The War Boys, co-written with Bruce Mcleod, was released in 2010.  Her new film, also co-written with Bruce Mcleod, Flying Blind, will be released in 2012. Wallace is presently writing new plays for the Public Theater, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, various French theaters and a libretto for Kristin Norderval. In 2009 One Flea Spare was incorporated into the permanent répertoire of the French National Theater, La Comédie Française, and produced there in 2012. Wallace is the only living American playwright to enter the répertoire.  Only two American Playwrights have ever been added to La Comédie's répertoire in 300 years, the other being Tennessee Williams.

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