The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) announced March 27 that Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder is the winner of its 2008 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award was presented March 29 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY.
Her play, Gee's Bend, was commissioned for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Southern Writers Project. It had a 2006 reading in the Project's Festival of New Plays and its fully-staged premiere in January 2007 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. It has since toured the state and received productions elsewhere with more slated for 2008. A production of the play is currently being performed by Denver Center Theatre Company.
The Osborn award "is designed to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature — e.g., has not had a significant New York production, been staged in more than a few regional theatres or received other major national awards." It carries a $1,000 prize, funded by the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association. Honorees are recognized in The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, the annual chronicle of United States edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, now in its 89th year. Making the selection from plays nominated by ATCA members is the ATCA New Plays Committee, which also selects honorees for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. The Osborn Award is usually presented at ATCA 's biannual winter conference in New York or (as this year) at the Humana Festival of New American Plays.