Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Click Here for More Articles on 2020 AWARDS SEASON

Sarah Ruhl to Receive Distinguished Playwright Award at 2016 Mimi Awards

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust today announced that Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl is this year's recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

Ruhl will be honored at the Ninth Annual "Mimi" Awards, presented on Monday, November 14, 2016, at Lincoln Center Theater. The "Mimi" Awards are presented annually to honor the outstanding artistry and accomplishments of some of the most gifted American Playwrights.

"I was moved, honored, shocked and incredibly heartened to receive this award that seemed to fall from the sky," Ruhl said. "The generosity and thoughtfulness of this award is staggering. I'm so humbled to be part of the remarkable group that has received this award, and so grateful to the Steinberg Charitable Trust for renewing the life-blood of the theatre with every award it gives to playwrights."

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award is presented biennially to honor and encourage the artistic excellence and achievement of an American playwright whose body of work has made significant contributions to the American theatre. The recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award receives a cash award of $200,000.

"The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is incredibly honored to recognize the outstanding career of Sarah Ruhl this year. Her work sparks conversation in audiences of all ages with its emotionally vivid language, and we look forward to seeing - and experiencing - what comes next," Steinberg board member Jim Steinberg said.

"Sarah Ruhl is unique. She fills her intelligent and highly theatrical plays with striking oddities and playful humor. Sarah is a prolific playwright of great distinction. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this year's Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award," Paige Evans, 2016 Steinberg Advisory Committee Member and Artistic Director at Signature Theatre Company, said.

"Sarah Ruhl has a bold and unique theatrical voice. Since I first got to know her work over a decade ago, I have been consistently impressed with how artfully she marries her expansive lyricism with her exceptional imagination to produce complex and brave portrayals of human existence - our crises, passions and contradictions. This recognition by the Steinberg Foundation is well deserved - with a magnificently rich and varied body of work already to her credit, I look forward to seeing the new work from this highly accomplished artist," Lynne Meadow, 2016 Steinberg Advisory Committee Member and Artistic Director at Manhattan Theatre Club, said.

"Sarah's incredibly impressive body of work was the driving force behind the committee's choice. One of the goals of the award is to encourage the winner to continue writing for the theatre. It seemed obvious that Sarah would be a potent and influential contributor to the theater for years to come. I stand in awe of her remarkable accomplishments while enormously anticipating what comes next." Carole Rothman, 2016 Steinberg Advisory Committee Member and Artistic Director at Second Stage Theatre, said.

Sarah Ruhl's plays include For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, The Oldest Boy, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, The Clean House, Passion Play, Dead Man's Cell Phone, Melancholy Play, Eurydice, Orlando, Late: A Cowboy Song, Dear Elizabeth and Stage Kiss. She has been a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been produced on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre by Lincoln Center Theater, off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage and at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. Her plays have been produced regionally all over the country, with premieres at Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Goodman Theatre and the Piven Theatre Workshop in Chicago. Her plays have also been produced internationally and translated into more than 12 languages. Originally from Chicago, Ruhl received her M.F.A. from Brown University where she studied with Paula Vogel. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Whiting Award, the Lily Award, a PEN award for mid-career playwrights and the MacArthur "Genius" Award. Her book of essays, 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write, was published by Faber and Faber last Fall and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. Ruhl teaches at the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family. For more information, visit

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award and Steinberg Playwright Awards are presented in alternate years. Past recipients include:

· Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Dominique Morisseau, Steinberg Playwright Awards, 2015

· Stephen Adly Guirgis, Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, 2014

· Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph, Steinberg Playwright Awards, 2013

· David Henry Hwang, Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, 2012

· Lisa D'Amour and Melissa James Gibson, Steinberg Playwright Awards, 2011

· Lynn Nottage, Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, 2010

· David Adjmi, Tarell Alvin McCraney and Bruce Norris, Steinberg Playwright Awards, 2009

· Tony Kushner, Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, 2008

Along with a monetary award, playwrights receive "The Mimi," a statuette designed by David Rockwell, Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect.

In 2008, the Board of Directors created an advisory committee of prominent theater professionals to establish the awards criteria, nominate individual candidates and select each recipient. The 2016 Advisory Committee is comprised of Paige Evans, Artistic Director, Signature Theatre Company; Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director, Manhattan Theatre Club; Carole Rothman, Artistic Director, Second Stage Theatre; Molly Smith, Artistic Director, Arena Stage; Kent Thompson, Artistic Director, Denver Center Theatre Company; Les Waters, Artistic Director, Actors Theatre of Louisville; and Chay Yew, Artistic Director, Victory Gardens Theater.

The Board of Directors of The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is made up of Carole A. Krumland, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created by Harold Steinberg in 1986 in his name and the name of his late wife, Miriam. The Trust's primary mission is to support and promote the American theater as a vital part of our culture by nurturing American Playwrights, encouraging the development and production of new American plays, and providing significant support to not-for-profit theater companies across the country.

Since its inception, the Trust has given over $80 million to more than a hundred not-for-profit theater organizations. These gifts have funded countless productions, as well as the commissioning of playwrights, playwriting programs and arts-in-education outreach programs for thousands of children in an effort to create and educate new generations of theatergoers.

The Trust also collaborated with the American Theater Critics Association to create and fund the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. That award is presented annually during the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theater of Louisville. Recipients of this award include Qui Nguyen, Rebecca Gilman, Lauren Gunderson, Robert Schenkkan, Yussef El Guindi, Bill Cain, E.M. Lewis, Moises Kaufman, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Lee Blessing, Craig Lucas, Lynn Nottage, Nilo Cruz, Horton Foote, Jane Martin and ReGina Taylor.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

Related Articles
Vote Now for the Best of the Decade Awards

More Hot Stories For You