Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Qui Nguyen’s “Vietgone” wins $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA Award for 2015; Additional $7,500 citations for Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday” and Jen Silverman’s “The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane”

Qui Nguyen

Qui Nguyen

Congratulations to Qui Nguyen, whose new play Vietgone, is the winner of the 2015 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2014.

Paco Tolson, Maureen Sebastian, Samantha Quan and Raymond Lee in South Coast Repertory's "Vietgone." (Debora Robinson / South Coast Repertory)

Paco Tolson, Maureen Sebastian, Samantha Quan and Raymond Lee in South Coast Repertory’s “Vietgone.” (Debora Robinson / South Coast Repertory)

This “sexy comedy about culture-shocked, grieving Vietnamese refugees who fled to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon” features “a vivid, specific voice, a wonderful sense of humor and compelling stakes,” said the judges. Vietgone premiered at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California, and was recently produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) this month, with performances through October 29th. New York audiences will have the opportunity to see Vietgone, when it begins previews Oct. 4, 2016 ahead of an Oct. 25 opening at the larger of MTC’s two Off Broadway spaces, City Center Stage I.

Eugene Young Oh, Robert Ross Parker, Emily Williams, Tom Myers and Qui Nguyen on the set of Alice in Slasherland at Incubator Arts Project in New York on October 29, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Eugene Young Oh, Robert Ross Parker, Emily Williams, Tom Myers and Qui Nguyen on the set of Alice in Slasherland at Incubator Arts Project in New York on October 29, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Qui Nguyen, often credited as a pioneer of “geek theatre”, is a playwright, TV writer, and co-founder of the OBIE Award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company of NYC. In addition to Vietgone, his plays include War is F**king Awesome (developed by Sundance Theatre Institute, Frederick LoeweAward); She Kills Monsters (The Flea, Buzz22 Chicago/Steppenwolf, Company One, 2014 AATE Distinguished Play Award, 2012 GLAAD Media Award nom); Krunk Fu Battle Battle (East West Players); Bike Wreck (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Soul Samurai (2009 GLAAD Media Award nom), The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G (Ma-Yi Theater & Vampire Cowboys); and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys productions of Alice in Slasherland, Fight Girl Battle World, Men of Steel, and Living Dead in Denmark. He is a recipient of the 2015 New York Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award and 2014 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship. He is currently under commission from the Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club/South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Children’s Theatre Company. He is a resident artist at New Dramatists, a core member of The Playwrights Center, and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Ma-Yi Writers Lab. For television, he’s writes for the Emmy Award-winning PBS children’s cartoon, Peg+Cat.

Steven Dietz

Steven Dietz

Two citations that carry $7,500 awards were presented to Steven Dietz’s Bloomsday, which premiered at ACT Theatre in Seattle, and Jen Silverman’s The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, which premiered at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre Company. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program recognizing regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States.

Eric Ankrim and Sydney Andrews; photo: Chris Bennion

Eric Ankrim and Sydney Andrews; photo: Chris Bennion

Dietz’s play is “lovely and thoughtful,” with a “slightly supernatural sparkle” about two people meeting on the streets of Dublin, visited by their 35-years-later selves. Silverman’s play is a “lyrical love story” that “uses memorable, flawed characters to tell a powerful and personal story” about the abuse of women in South Africa.

Aimé Donna Kelly (left) and Lynnette R. Freeman in InterAct Theatre Company's 'The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane. Photo by Kate Raines/Plate3Photography.

Aimé Donna Kelly (left) and Lynnette R. Freeman in InterAct Theatre Company’s ‘The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane. Photo by Kate Raines/Plate3Photography.

Lynnette Freeman, Aimé Donna Kelly, Eric Berryman, Akeem Davis, and Ross Beltcher Set for THE DANGEROUS HOUSE OF PRETTY MBANE at InterAct Theatre through February 8, 2015

Jen Silverman

Jen Silverman

The winners were selected from 28 eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal/

“It isn’t just a privilege, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to experience the work of these theater artists and to passionately debate with such learned colleagues,” said committee chair Harry. “These are plays the American theatre can take great pride in — plays that deserve long lives and multiple productions.”

In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. Since 2000, the award has been generously funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Since the inception of ATCA’s New Play Award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Donald Margulies, Lynn Nottage, Moises Kaufman and Craig Lucas. Last year’s honoree was Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale.” For a full list of 39 years of winners and runners-up, click here.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife. In support of the American theater, it has provided grants totaling millions of dollars for new productions of American plays and educational programs for those who may not ordinarily experience live theater.

ATCA was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of critics’ functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theater critics, with members working in print, on radio and television and websites, ATCA is affiliated with the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide.

ATCA also administers the $10,000 Francesca Primus Prize, funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, honoring contributions to the American theater by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence, and it awards the Osborn Award to an emerging playwright. Annually, ATCA makes a recommendation for the Regional Theater Tony Award presented by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League and votes on inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Other ATCA New Play Committee members are Kathleen Allen, freelance (Tucson, AZ); Misha Berson, Seattle Times; Bruce Burgun, freelance (New Orleans, LA.); Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, WI); Evans Donnell, (Nashville, TN); Pam Harbaugh,, (Indialantic, FL); Michael P. Howley, (Montgomery, AL); Erin Keane, culture editor, (Louisville, KY); Jerry Kraft, (Port Angeles, Wash.); Mark Lowry,, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas, TX); Julius Novick, veteran critic and professor (New York City); Marjorie Oberlander, freelance (New York City); Kathryn Osenlund, CurtainUp, Phindie (Philadelphia); Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, Va); Frank Rizzo, Variety (New Haven, CT); David Sheward,,, (Jackson Heights, NY); Martha Wade Steketee,, TDF Stages, (New York, NY); Herb Simpson,, (Geneseo, N.Y.); and Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing, (Charlotte, NC).


Other articles by Lia Chang:
Sandra Oh, Sola Bamis, Corey Brill and Raymond Lee Star in South Coast Repertory’s World Premiere of Julia Cho’s OFFICE HOUR, April 10-30
Lily Mariye Talks Directing “Nashville,” the Disney-ABC Creative Talent Development Program and What’s Next 
East West Players to Honor Broadway’s ALLEGIANCE, Hit TV Show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Founding Artistic Director Tisa Chang at 50th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction on April 25
Photos: Denise Burse, Chinaza Uche and More in Kimber Lee’s “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” at Seattle Rep through April 24
Thom Sesma, Greg Watanabe and Jeanne Sakata Set for A SINGLE SHARD at People’s Light, April 27 – May 29
Maxine Hong Kingston to Receive Randolph College Pearl S. Buck Award on April 20 
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, Ellen Burstyn, Bobby Cannavale and Paola Lázaro-Muñoz at The Drama Book Shop for BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Reading and Signing
Broadway Vet Gedde Watanabe and MISS SAIGON’s Jon Jon Briones Lead the Cast of East West Players’ Production of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, May 12 – June 26
Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter David Henry Hwang and singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Leehom Wang to Receive Honorary Degrees from Williams College
Closing Night Party of Encores! 1776 with André De Shields, Santino Fontana, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, Ann Harada at New York City Center
Mia Katigbak, Jojo Gonzalez, Tonya Pinkins, Cory Michael Smith, Andre Holland, Jessica Hagedorn and More Celebrate Opening Night of Ma-Yi Theater Company’s HOUSE RULES
Garth Kravits and Benjamin Halstead win TUNE IN TIME Musical Theater Song Writing Competition at The York Theatre
Sneak Peek at the Featured Films and Lineup for the 11th Annual DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon, April 29 – May 1 
“Sunny Side Up” on Sprout, starring Emily Borromeo, Carly Ciarrocchi, Kaitlin Becker and Tim Kubart, Receives Daytime Emmy Nod for Best Pre-School Children’s Series
Q & A with Emmanuel Brown, Actor, Award-Winning Fight Choreographer and Champion Martial Artist 
Multimedia: Garth Kravits Featured on Latest Episode of Joel B. New’s SOMETHING NEW Podcast

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

All text, graphics, articles & photographs unless otherwise indicated: © 2000-2016 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on
%d bloggers like this: