The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has announced its six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, the nations largest new play prize. Included as a finalist is 'Gidion's Knot' by Johnna Adams, which made its world premiere at the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University during the festivals 2012 season. The top award and two citations will be announced on April 6 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky. 'Gidion's Knot,' which featured actors Joey Parsons and Robin Walsh, was critical success and audience favorite, selling at over ninety percent capacity during its 26 performances last July at the theater festival. In a press release from ATCA, judges called it a "perfect piece of theater that is both exhilarating and devastating."
Set in a fifth grade classroom, the play pitted a mother and her son's teacher as they debate and examine the tragic circumstances that led to Gidion's suspension from school. Washingtonian magazine described the play as a "heart-stopping new show" and named it the number three play of 2012. The Washington Post called it "harrowingthe play ponders high-stakes issues" and "elegant as it is chilling." The play was published, with CATF production photos in the December issue of "American Theatre" magazine the industry's preeminent journal.
"I am so very proud of Johnna's play and the national attention it continues to receive. 'Gidion's Knot' is the type of provocative and powerful play to which CATF is dedicated; and helping advance her career is a key aspect of our mission and core values, said CATF Producing Director Ed Herendeen, who directed the play last summer.
"I am confident that this important new American play, by this unique emerging voice for the stage, will have a long future in theaters across the country. Our audiences were so deeply moved by this challenging, emotionally wrought work and it is thrilling for it to be recognized by the American Theatre Critics Association."
The top award is for $25,000 and two citation winners each receive $7,500. Since 2000, the award has been funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. The six finalists were selected from a record setting 43 eligible scripts. All considered plays must have received a professional premiere outside of New York City during 2012.
The Contemporary American Theater Festival, hosted on the campus of Shepherd University, will produce its 23rd season July 5 to 28 and feature five new American plays in rotating repertory.