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.