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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Catherine Bush, Barter's Resident Playwright, a Finalist in Prestigious Competition

Catherine Bush, seated right, works with some of the cast members of <em>The Quiltmaker</em>, her current Barter production.
Catherine Bush, seated right, works with some of the cast members of The Quiltmaker, her current Barter production.

February 16, 2007

Barter Theatre's resident playwright, Catherine Bush, is one of six finalists in the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) new plays competition.

The first-place playwright in the Harold And Mimi Steinberg /American Theatre Critics Association New Play Awards will receive $25,000 — the largest monetary prize for a national playwriting award. Two additional playwrights will each receive citations worth $7,500. The awards will be announced March 31 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky.

The six finalists are:

* Just a Kiss, by Catherine Bush, blurs the line between fiction and fact as two heterosexual actresses become unsettlingly close while rehearsing a play about the growing sexual attraction of two women. It was first seen at New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida.

* Guest Artist, by Jeff Daniels, explores the glory of theater, hero worship and the nature of artistic risk in a gentle and poignant comedy about a burned-out playwright who visits a small town theater company that has commissioned what may be his last play. It was first produced at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan.

* Hunter Gatherers, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, is an inky dark comedy portraying two seemingly civilized couples descending into the chaos of primal urges. It was first produced in June at Killing My Lobster in San Francisco.

* Opus, by Michael Hollinger, portrays the fractious members of a string quartet as they deal with the vicissitudes of creating art and maintaining human relationships. It premiered in January 2006 at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia and has had at least two subsequent productions.

* The Scene, by Theresa Rebeck, reveals a man's spiraling descent into self-destruction, a path that mirrors the deterioration of society as a whole. It debuted at the 2006 Humana Festival and recently played Off-Broadway at New York's Second Stage Theatre.

* Vestibular Sense, by Ken LaZebnik, uses humor and pathos to explore the reality of life as an autistic adult in his uplifting look at people with disabilities. The work debuted in November at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis.

This year's finalists were selected from 25 eligible scripts submitted by ATCA members. All are plays that have premiered outside New York City in the previous calendar year. Headed by Chairman Bill Hirschman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Vice-Chair George Hatza of the Reading Eagle, a play-reading committee of 12 theater critics from around the U.S. evaluated the scripts.

"The amazing range of work — dramas, fantasies, musicals, farces, melodramas — was uplifting confirmation that theater remains a vital and evolving art form that can speak to every generation," Hirschman said.

Since the inception of ATCA's New Play Award in 1977, the list of honorees has included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Jane Martin, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Lee Blessing, Lynn Nottage, Horton Foote and Craig Lucas.

The awards are supported by a generous annual grant of $40,000 from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. Created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife, the primary mission of the Steinberg Charitable Trust is to support the American theater. The trust has provided numerous grants totaling millions of dollars to support new productions of American plays and educational programs for those who may not ordinarily get to experience live theater in this country.

The American Theatre Critics Association was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of a critic's duties and responsibilities. It is the only national association of professional theater critics and has several hundred members working for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations across the United States. ATCA is a national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC), a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide. For more information, visit