ATCA Announces Awards

Steinberg New Play Award and Osborn Award

By: - May 14, 2024

For their recent outstanding works, Playwrights Lloyd Suh and Jennifer Vosters won top awards given annually by a national theater critics group.

For his play, The Heart Sellers, Suh won the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) New Play Award. The Steinberg/ATCA honor, which carries a $25,000 cash prize, recognizes an outstanding script that premiered in a professional production outside of New York City during the previous year (in this case, 2023).

Suh’s play debuted at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in Milwaukee, Wis. Critics described The Heart Sellers as a “seriocomic encounter between two immigrant women from different cultures, who bond over food, dancing, Thanksgiving turkey, and homesickness as they forge a new and valuable friendship to face the future.”

“This play is a spirited and poignant ode to the challenges and rewards many experience as newcomers to American society,” critics noted.

They also presented two 2024 Steinberg/ATCA citations to I Carry Your Heart with Me by Jennifer Blackmer and K-I-S-S-I-N-G by Lenelle Moise.

Third Avenue Playworks in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. produced I Carry Your Heart with Me, while Huntington Theatre Company in Boston produced K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Each citation carries a $7,500 cash prize.

Inspired by her mother’s stint as a young stenographer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Blackmer’s one-actor, multi-character play explores a middle-aged woman’s conflicted memories of her top-secret post capturing the experiences of soldiers during the Vietnam War, and her involvement with a troubled veteran.

Meanwhile, in K-I-S-S-I-N-G, two Black teenagers build a fragile relationship as they bridge class, familial, and sexual differences. Critics praised the piece as a “whip-smart and tender play, which avoids the cliches associated with many adolescent rom-coms” (romantic comedies).  

Harold Steinberg created the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust in 1986 on behalf of himself and his late wife. Pursuing its primary mission to support 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.


Critics also presented the 2024 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award to Vosters for her play, Songs Without Words. It premiered at the Milwaukee Fringe Festival in Milwaukee, Wis.

Named for the late critic, new play advocate, and ATCA member M. Elizabeth “Betty” Osborn (1941-1993), the honor recognizes the work of an emerging playwright who has not yet received a major New York production or a major national award. The Osborn Award carries a $3,000 prize.

Press materials for the play describe it as “the funny, tragic, and heartfelt story of one artistic soul inhabiting two very different artists.”

Critics selected the awards recipients from a pool of eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country.

Misha Berson (Seattle, WA) and Cameron Kelsall (Philadelphia, PA) served as co-chairs of the ATCA New Play Committee during the adjudication process. Other participating members included Nancy Bishop (Chicago, IL), Lindsay Christians (Madison, WI), Evans Donnell (Nashville, TN), Mike Fischer (Milwaukee, WI), Amanda Finn (Chicago, IL), Melissa Hall (Indianapolis, IN), Lou Harry (Indianapolis, IN), Susan Haubenstock (Richmond, VA), Ed Huyck (Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN), Elizabeth Kramer (Louisville, KY), Martha Wade Steketee (New York, NY), Doug Strassler (New York, NY), and Bob Verini (Boston, MA).