Every day is opening night.

Lynn Nottage & Will Eno Named First Recipient’s of the Horton Foote Prizes

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



New York, NY (8/30/10) – Mari Marchbanks (Founder and Executive Director) announced today the inaugural recipients of the newly established Horton Foote Prizes, named in honor of the legendary writer, to award excellence in American Theater. Presented biennially, the first Horton Foote Prize is awarded to Ruined by Lynn Nottage for Outstanding New American Play and Middletown by Will Eno for Promising New American Play.

Ms. Nottage and Mr. Eno will be honored at a private reception on Monday, September 20th at The Players 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 photograph of Horton Foote. (The photo was inducted into the National Portrait Gallery in Washing D.C. in December 2008.)

As contenders for Outstanding New American Play and Promising New American Play, Nottage and Eno were nominated by Manhattan Theatre Club and Vineyard Theatre respectively. 54 resident theatres 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 between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. Nominated playwrights must be the author of a minimum of three original full-length plays which have been fully produced by professional theatres.

In a statement Ms. Marchbanks said, “Horton Foote is widely regarded as one of the leading American dramatists of our time. He wrote some of our most beloved works and his lifelong dedication to, and his passion for, the theatre was boundless. In celebrating the life and legacy of Horton Foote, the Prize honors the work of the American playwright. 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 Michael Bigelow-Dixon, Assistant Professor, Director and Dramaturg at Goucher College; Pam MacKinnon, New York- based Obie Award-winning Director; and Lisa Portes, Director, Head of the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University, and Artistic Director for Chicago Playworks, selected the top contenders to be presented to the final judges. The four judges of The Horton Foote Prizes were selected personally by Mr. Foote and are Artistic Directors with whom he worked closely: André Bishop (Lincoln Center Theater), James Houghton (Signature Theatre), Andrew Leynse (Primary Stages), and Michael Wilson (Hartford Stage). The judges’ theaters were exempt from the selection process.

On behalf of the judges, Committee Chair André Bishop said “The Prize Committee felt that there was such a wonderful variety of plays that we needed to honor the present and the future by awarding an Outstanding Play and a Promising Play. Horton loved to see current plays but he also loved to read unproduced work and couldn't wait to see them on their feet. He was particularly fond of watching young writers grow. He would have approved of this!” Bishop continued, “Ruined is a distinguished and powerful play, and even though it has won many awards, it more than deserves to win another — and one named for Horton. Lynn Nottage is a superb playwright and we were all thrilled that she won the Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play.”

Ruined had its world premiered as a co-production with Goodman Theatre in November 2008 and Manhattan Theatre Club in February 2009. Set in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Mama Nadi, shrewd businesswoman and proprietress of a rain forest bar and brothel, walks a thin line as she navigates relationships and politics while working to protect and profit from the young women seeking refuge with her.

Regarding Will Eno’s win, Bishop commented, “Will Eno is an exciting writer with an extremely distinctive voice. In his new play, Middletown, he plunges into the depths of small town living, revealing what is on the surface and all that lies just beneath. We are thrilled to celebrate Mr. Eno’s latest work, Middletown, awarding it Promising New American Play.”

The world premiere of Middletown at the Vineyard Theatre will begin previews October 13, 2010 with Opening Night set for November 3rd. Middletown explores the universe of a small American town. As a friendship develops between longtime resident John Dodge and new arrival Mary Swanson, the lives of the inhabitants of Middletown intersect in strange and compelling ways.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his play 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.


Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined has also received an OBIE, the Lucille Lortel Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodman Theatre). It premiered in London at the Almeida Theatre in April 2010, and will tour several US regional theatres in 2010-2011. Her play By The Way, Meet Vera Stark will premiere at Second Stage Theatre during its 2010-2011 season. Other plays include Intimate Apparel (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play; Roundabout Theatre, CENTERSTAGE, South Coast Repertory); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award; Playwrights Horizons, London’s Tricycle Theatre); Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers and POOF! Nottage is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” the National Black Theatre Festival’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, the 2004 PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama, the 2005 Guggenheim Grant for Playwriting, as well as fellowships from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists and New York Foundation for the Arts. Her most recent publications include: Ruined (TCG), Intimate Apparel and Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine: Two Plays (TCG) and Crumbs from the Table of Joy and Other Plays (TCG). She is a member of The Dramatists Guild, an alumna of New Dramatists and a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she is a visiting lecturer. www.lynnnottage.net

Will Eno’s new play MIDDLETOWN will receive its world premiere in fall 2010 at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City; and subsequently be produced at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His play TRAGEDY: a tragedy received its US premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2008, and his collection of short plays entitled OH, THE HUMANITY and other exclamations world premiered at The Flea Theater starring Marisa Tomei and Brian Hutchinson. Will’s internationally heralded play THOM PAIN (based on nothing) had a successful year long run at the DR2 in New York, produced by Bob Boyett and Daryl Roth; following a sold out run at the 2004 International Edinburgh Festival (Fringe First Award and the Herald Angel Award), and a subsequent transfer to the Soho Theatre in London. The play is now being produced across the United States, as well as Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Mexico and other countries. THOM PAIN (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Will’s play THE FLU SEASON received the 2004 Oppenheimer Award for the best debut production in New York by an American Playwright. Will’s plays have been produced by the Gate Theatre, the SOHO Theatre and BBC Radio, in London; the Rude Mechanicals Theater Company and Naked Angels, in New York. His plays are published by Oberon Books and TCG; and have appeared in Harper’s, The Antioch Review, The Quarterly and Best Ten-Minute Plays for Two Actors. Will has been commissioned by the National Theatre, London and Yale Repertory Theatre. He is a Helen Merrill Playwriting Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow, and was awarded the first-ever Marian Seldes/Garson Kanin Fellowship by the Theater Hall of Fame, as well as the Alfred Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. Will Eno lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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