The Steinberg Playwright “Mimi Awards” was presented to Ayad Akhtar and Lucas Hnath on December 4
Held at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York, the Mimi Awards were presented to two playwrights responsible for some of the best plays of the decade.
The Steinberg Playwright Awards, which has been presented in the past to writers such as Annie Baker and Tarell Alvin McCraney, is given biannually to writers at the start of their career. It provides a cash prize that allows playwrights greater freedom to do what they want with their art. Honorees Lucas Hnath and Ayad Akhtar are visionary writers responsible for some of the best plays of the past few years. Hnath said of winning the award alongside Ayad Akhtar, “being honored with him, [it] feels like the night of ideas.”
Akhtar, best known for his plays “Junk” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Disgraced,” delivered a speech about the current political climate in America. Meanwhile Hnath, whose Tony-nominated “A Doll’s House, Part 2” closed this past September, spoke about his writing process as a whole. Surrounded by writers, directors, and actors who had worked with the honorees, the evening also included performances of scenes from the writers’ works. Highlights included Julie White and Jayne Houdyshell performing a scene from “A Doll’s House, Part 2” and Aasif Mandvi delivering a monologue from “Disgraced.”
Julie White and Jayne Houdyshell praised Hnath’s work in crafting “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” White described how “extraordinary” Hnath’s writing is and how happy she was to perform in his honor. Houdyshell similarly discussed her experience working with Hnath, saying how “he really knows and cares about and really wants to listen to what actors have to say about their roles and about their feelings about the play… That’s really beautiful to have that sense of collaboration, and it’s because he respects actors so much.”
Steven Pasquale performed a scene from “Junk” during the ceremony, saying that “it feels thrilling to be a part of an evening celebrating one of our greatest living writers.” Pasquale currently plays Robert Merkin, a mergers and acquisitions advisor in the play which is based on the real life Michael Milken, best known as the “King of Debt” from the 1980s. Starring Pasquale, “Junk” is currently in performances at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.