Jeff Daniels
Jeff Daniels
The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) has announced the winners for the annual Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Awards, which will be bestowed on March 31 at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky.

The winner of the $25,000 Steiberg Award is Hunter Gatherers, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, an inky dark comedy portraying two seemingly civilized couples descending into the chaos of primal urges. It was first produced in June at Killing My Lobster in San Francisco.

Two other shows will receive $7,500 citiations:.Guest Artist, by Jeff Daniels, explores the glory of theater, hero worship and the nature of artistic risk in a gentle and poignant comedy about a burned-out playwright who visits a small town theater company that has commissioned what may be his last play. It was first produced at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan.

The second $7,500 winer, Opus, by Michael Hollinger, portrays the fractious members of a string quartet as they deal with the vicissitudes of creating art and maintaining human relationships. It premiered in January 2006 at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia and has had at least two subsequent productions.

The three other finalists were Just a Kiss, by Catherine Bush, which blurs the line between fiction and fact as two heterosexual actresses become unsettlingly close while rehearsing a play about the growing sexual attraction of two women; The Scene, by Theresa Rebeck, which reveals a man's spiraling descent into self-destruction, a path that mirrors the deterioration of society as a whole; and Vestibular Sense, by Ken LaZebnik, which uses humor and pathos to explore the reality of life as an autistic adult in his uplifting look at people with disabilities.