Nate Eppler's LONG WAY DOWN Named A Semi-Finalist for Prestigious Steinberg-ATCA New Play Award

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Long Way Down, Nashville playwright Nate Eppler's critically acclaimed new work which premiered locally earlier this year, has been named a semi-finalist for the 2012 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award.

"Out of the hundreds of new plays produced outside of New York each year approximately two dozen are nominated for this award and we couldn't be happier than to be in such esteemed company," Eppler says.

Long Way Down, directed by Lauren Shouse and starring a cast that included Jennifer Richmond, Rachel Agee, Rebekah Durham and David Compton, debuted in a production mounted by Johnny Peppers and his 3PS Productions at Street Theatre Company. Nashville audiences were first introduced to the play and its characters during a reading in 2010 that was part of Tennessee Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Festival.

"I'm thrilled that this play - a local play written, developed, workshopped, and performed in Middle Tennessee - is getting such widespread attention," says producer Johnny Peppers. "The Nashville production was a success by all accounts. It's incredibly exciting to have the play be considered at the national level for such an esteemed award. "

In my review of Long Way Down, published on BroadwayWorld.com after the opening night of the 3PS production at Street Theatre Company, I wrote: "With Long Way Down Eppler proves himself a playwright of the highest order, delivering a well-crafted script that delves into the pro-life movement with an incisive wit that is blended artfully with a gritty realism to create a completely believable premise, peopled by characters so genuine it is as if you know them intimately. To put it succinctly, Nate Eppler is likely to become very famous, with Long Way Down a most worthy vehicle for his success."

"Long Way Down tells the story of four sad souls struggling to find their way in the world amid all the vagaries and disappointments of these times in which we live - rife with tabloid rumors and  the 24/7 media coverage that is filled with biting social commentary and partisan politics - that have effectively driven wedges of unease and discomfort between people who consider themselves friends or lovers," that review continued.

"At first blush, Long Way Down focuses on young Maybelline (played by Jennifer Richmond), a simple-minded young woman who has lived her downtrodden existence for so long that she can hardly foster enough hope to look past her dismal present for any type of happier future. But there is so much more to be found in Long Way Down that your initial, visceral response to the play is likely to become skewed as your move deeper into Eppler's twisted, yet altogether fascinating, play."

Last January, Eppler and his writing partner Dietz Osborne were named winners of the First Night Award for 2010's Outstanding New Play for their film noir-inspired comedy Rear Widow, which had its premiere at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre (the same venue where the duo's Southern Fried Funeral is now running).

Since 1986, ATCA has chosen three plays each year for its New Play Awards, with citations going to the top-ranked playwright and two runners-up. Past Steinberg citations have been awarded to August Wilson, Tracy Letts, Moises Kaufman, Adam Rapp, Nilo Cruz, Lynn Nottage and Horton Foote. The honoree and citations are also honored by critical essays in the definitive annual theater yearbook, Best Plays, edited by Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, founded by Burns Mantle in 1920.

Six finalists will be chosen in January, with the three Steinberg/ATCA New Play winners announced on March 31 in a ceremony during the 36th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

To be considered for the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, a script must have had its professional premiere as a finished work in a venue outside of New York, so long as it hasn't opened in New York by the end of that same calendar year.

Any play premiering outside of New York City is eligible for Steinberg/ATCA Award nomination by American Theatre Critics Association members. Eppler's play was brought to the attention of ATCA by Evans Donnell, formerly critic for The Tennessean and now chief theater critic for ArtNowNashville.com.

Nominated scripts are then read by a panel of critics representing different regions of the country. Many ATCA Award selections have gone on to major off-Broadway or Broadway productions, and many have received subsequent other awards.

Bill Cain's Nine Circles was named winner of the $25,000 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for 2011. It described as "a harrowing play about war and redemption." Kathryn Grant's The Good Counselor and David Bar Katz's The History of Invulnerability received Steinberg/ATCA citations and $7,500 each. Both Grant and Katz were first-time winners, but Cain won the Steinberg/ATCA Award 2010 for Equivocation. Cain is the first-ever playwright to post consecutive wins, although other playwrights - including Jane Martin, August Wilson and Lee Blessing - have won more than once. 

 

Pictured: Jennifer Richmond in 3PS Productions' Long Way Down

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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis

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