CHINGLISH's David Henry Hwang Wins Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award; Ceremony Set for 10/29


Today, as Berkeley Repertory Theatre holds its final rehearsal for the West Coast premiere of Chinglishand prepares this production for a trip to Hong Kong, the show's celebrated author has earned another honor. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust announced this morning that David Henry Hwang will receive the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, a biennial prize that recognizes and encourages the artistic excellence and achievement of an American playwright whose body of work has made significant contributions to the American theatre.

In a ceremony on October 29 at the Lincoln Center Theatre, Hwang will be presented with a cash award of $200,000 along with "The Mimi," a statuette designed by Tony Award-nominated scenic designer and architect David Rockwell. The only previous winners of this prominent prize are Tony Kushner and Lynn Nottage.

"I've been very fortunate to have found something I wanted to do with my life, and a place in the American theatre," Hwang comments. "Receiving the Mimi Award is an extravagant blessing, which overwhelms me with gratitude. Since learning the news, I've been able to turn down some commercial media work to focus on my Theatre Projects. My deep thanks to the Steinberg Trust and board for its visionary support of American Playwrights, and to the advisory committee, who saw fit to include me among the extraordinary dramatists who have received this life-changing gift."

"The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is extremely proud of the selection of David Henry Hwang as the recipient of this year's Distinguished Playwright Award," says Jim Steinberg, a member of the Trust's board of directors. "For 32 years, Mr. Hwang has written thoughtful, provocative plays that have engaged and challenged audiences throughout the world. The breadth of his canon – encompassing not only dramatic works, but also musical theatre, children's theatre, and opera – has placed him at the apogee of a career in the theatre. We look forward to seeing many new works by Mr. Hwang in the years to come."

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is led by a board of directors that includes Carole A. Krumland, James D. Steinberg, Michael A. Steinberg, Seth M. Weingarten, and William D. Zabel.In 2008, the board established an advisory committee of respected theatre professionals responsible for establishing the criteria for the Steinberg Playwright Awards, as well as the nomination and selection processes. The 2012 Advisory Committee includes four continuing members: Susan Booth, artistic director of the Alliance Theater; Jeremy Cohen, producing artistic director at the Playwrights' Center; Todd London, artistic director of New Dramatists; and Lynne Meadow, artistic director of Manhattan Theater Club. This year there are three new members as well: Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Centerstage; Bill Rauch, artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Neil Pepe, artistic director of Atlantic Theater Company. This committee elected to honor Hwang for his extraordinary artistic achievement.

"I have been dazzled by David Henry Hwang's work ever since I saw M. Butterfly in 1988," Meadow remarks. "Mr. Hwang has chronicled the Asian American experience with depth and insight and humor in a body of work that finds a common humanity in the status of all of us. As he has wrestled with questions of identity – cultural, sexual, and racial – he has given us memorable and thrilling and challenging evenings in the theatre. I am thrilled that the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award has been awarded to him in recognition of his past accomplishments and in anticipation of more major works to come."

"David Henry Hwang's extraordinary body of work and his unrelentingly honest voice as a playwright make us particularly proud to honor him with this year's Steinberg Distinguished Playwriting Award," Pepe adds. "He is an artist who enriches and challenges the American theatrical landscape in ways that are both innovative and revelatory. Finally, he has shown himself to be a generous and forward-thinking person who continues to have a major impact on the field. We are thrilled to bestow this major award to such an outstanding artist."

The Steinberg Playwright Awards and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Awards are presented in alternate years. The former is awarded to playwrights who exhibit exceptional talent and tremendous promise in earlier stages of their careers; past recipients include David Adjmi, Lisa D'Amour, Melissa James Gibson, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Bruce Norris. The latter honors the artistic achievement of a playwright – such as Hwang, Kushner, and Nottage – whose work has made a significant impact on American theatre.

David Henry Hwang won three Obies and the Tony Award for Best Play with popular scripts like M. Butterfly and FOB. Now he's back with a canny comedy of cross-cultural errors. In Chinglish, an American businessman heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family's firm – but the deal isn't the only thing getting lost in translation as he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant, and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat. Two-time Obie-winner Leigh Silverman returns to stage the twists in a terrific play she took to Broadway. Love is on the line, and laughter fills the ledger in Chinglish.

The creative team behind the Broadway production of Chinglish reunites for this production. These artists have collectively won six Tony Awards, five Obie Awards, and seven Hewes Design Awards:David Korins (sets), Anita Yavich(costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting), Darron L West (sound), and Jeff Sugg and Shawn Duan (projections). The talented cast includes Vivian Chiu, Celeste Den, Michelle Krusiec, Austin Ku, Alex Moggridge, Brian Nishii, and Larry Lei Zhang. The assistant director is Oanh Nguyen.

Chinglish starts previews in Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre on August 24, opens August 29, and runs through October 7, 2012. Next, it plays at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA from January 25 through February 24, 2013, and then appears at the Hong Kong Arts Festival from March 1 through March 6, 2013.

For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or simply click

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust was created by Harold Steinberg in 1986 in the names of himself and his late wife Miriam. The Trust's primary mission is to support and promote the American theatre as a vital part of our culture by nurturing American Playwrights, encouraging the development and production of new American plays, and by providing significant support to theatre companies across the country. Since its inception, the Trust has given in excess of $65 million to more than one hundred not-for-profit theatre 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 educated new generations of theatregoers. The Trust also collaborated with the American Theater Critics Association to create and fund the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. The award is presented annually during the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theater of Louisville. Recent winners of this award include Lee Blessing, Nilo Cruz, Craig Lucas, and Lynn Nottage.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has grown from a storefront stage to an international leader in innovative theatre. Known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience, the nonprofit has provided a welcoming home for emerging and established artists since 1968. In four decades, four million people have enjoyed more than 300 shows at Berkeley Rep. These shows have gone on to win five Tony Awards, seven Obie Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and many other honors. In recognition of its place on the national stage, Berkeley Rep received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1997. Its bustling facilities – the 600-seat Roda Theatre, the 400-seat Thrust Stage, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, the Osher Studio, and a spacious new campus in West Berkeley – are helping revitalize a renowned city. See tomorrow's plays today at Berkeley Rep.

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