The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust in New York City has announced the creation of two awards for American playwrights in different stages of their careers.
The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award will honor a mid-career playwright whose body of work has already been recognized. With a cash prize of $200,000, it is believed be the largest award to honor American playwriting. The first award recipient will be announced this fall, and the prize will be awarded on a biennial basis thereafter. Beginning in 2009, the Steinberg Emerging Playwrights Award, also to be awarded biennially, will honor two early career playwrights whose professional work shows great promise; each recipient will receive a cash prize of $50,000.
The trust has established an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to determine the criteria for the awards, nominate playwrights, and select the recipients. The members of the committee are Andr� Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater; David Emmes, producing artistic director of South Coast Repertory; Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater; Polly K. Carl, producing artistic director of Playwrights Center; Martha Lavey, artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Eduardo Machado, playwright and artistic director of INTAR Theatre; and Marc Masterson, artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville.
"These awards have been years in the making," said the trust's board in a press release. "It is our desire to honor both the achievement and potential of these playwrights and provide them with the financial freedom to devote their best efforts to writing for the theater. We are thrilled to celebrate them, while hoping at the same time to strengthen the vitality and appeal of the theater in our society."