I was so pleased to serve on this committee of the American Theatre Critics Association — Yussef El Guindi’s Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat is a terrific play. Here’s the press release, courtesy of ATCA chair Christopher Rawson:
THEATER CRITICS HONOR
PLAYWRIGHT YUSSEF EL GUINDI
WITH 2009 M. ELIZABETH OSBORN AWARD
The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) announces that Yussef El Guindi has won its 2009 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award will be presented April 4 at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky.
The award recognizes El Guindi’s play, Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat, which premiered in March 2008 at the Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago.
Born in Egypt, raised in London and now based in Seattle, El Guindi received a B.A. from American University in Cairo and a MFA in playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1985. He frequently examines the collision of ethnicities, cultures and politics that face Arab-Americans. Those themes culminate in Our Enemies, a frequently witty, always intellectually challenging depiction of Arab and Muslim activists and artists arguing whether to dispel or encourage mainstream America’s stereotypical perceptions of the Arab world. He asks universal questions about the price of assimilation, who speaks for a minority community, whether minorities should abet a news media seeking fast food sound bites to explain complex problems and how frank minorities should be in publicly exposing their divisions and shortcomings.
El Guindi has had 15 plays produced since 2001 in regional theaters from Durham to Anchorage. At the same time, he has worked as resident playwright at Silk Road Theatre Project; literary manager for Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco; playwright in residence, dramaturg and lecturer at Duke University; and dramaturg for Eureka Theatre Company and reader for The Magic Theatre, both in San Francisco
Back of the Throat, El Guindi’s look at post 9-11 paranoia, was recommended for the 2006 Steinberg/ATCA Award and has had eight productions. Our Enemies was one of six finalists for the Steinberg/ATCA Award this year.
The Osborn Award is designed to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature – e.g., has not had a significant New York production, been staged widely in regional theaters or received other major national awards. Last year’s Osborn Award went to Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder for her “Gee’s Bend.”
The Osborn Award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn. It carries a $1,000 prize, funded by the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association. Honorees are recognized in The Best Plays Theater Yearbook, edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, the annual chronicle of United States theater now in its 90th year. Making the selection from plays nominated by ATCA members is the ATCA New Plays Committee, which also selects honorees for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award.
The American Theatre Critics Association was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of a critic’s functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theater critics, it has several hundred members working for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and websites across the United States. ATCA is a national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide.
For more information, visit www.americantheatrecritics.org.
Prior Osborn Award Recipients
2008 Gee’s Bend, EM Lewis, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery, AL
2007 Vestibular Sense, Ken LaZebnik, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN
2006 American Fiesta, Steven Tomlinson, State Theatre Company, Austin, TX
2005 Madagascar, J.T. Rogers, Salt Lake Acting Co., Salt Lake City, UT
2004 The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Rolin Jones, South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA
2003 The Dinosaur Within, John Walch, State Theatre, Austin, TX
2002 Chagrin Falls, Mia McCullough, Stage Left Theatre, Chicago, IL
2001 Waiting to be Invited, S.M. Shephard-Massat, Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver, CO
2000 Marked Tree, Coby Goss, Senachai Theatre, Chicago, IL
1999 Lamarck, Dan O’Brien, the Perishable Theatre Company, Providence, RI
1998 The Glory of Living, Rebecca Gilman.
1997 Thunder Knocking On The Door, Keith Glover.
1996 Beast on the Moon, Richard Kalinoski.
1995 Rush Limbaugh in Night School, Charlie Varon.
1994 Hurricane, Anne Galjour