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‘The Meaning of Almost Everything’ nominated for ATCA/Steinberg new play award

Courtesy photo by Sean Carter Photography of Michael Brian Ogden and Matthew Gwynn in 'The Meaning of Almost Everything.'
Courtesy photo by Sean Carter Photography of Michael Brian Ogden and Matthew Gwynn in “The Meaning of Almost Everything.”

The Purple Rose Theatre Company (PRTC) recently announced that Jeff Daniels’ play “The Meaning of Almost Everything” has been recommended for the American Theatre Critics Association’s annual ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, honoring new scripts produced outside of New York City in the calendar year 2013.

The play premiered at the PRTC in January of 2013.

With elements of slapstick, vaudeville, tragedy and farce, this exuberant romp of a play explores the pain and the joy of human existence. The story follows two men, “A” and “B,” who exist in an undefined place and time, a place of safety and comfort, but also a place where nothing happens. One man wants to remain. The other isn’t so sure. Through their feats are daring (and sometimes cowardice), they stumble through the darkness to find the big answers to life’s big questions. This comedy questions the nature of our world and the absurdity of it all.

When asked about the impetus for the play, Daniels says in a press release, “I’ve never been one to think whatever may come after this life will be better. One can always hope and pray and believe, sure, but given the choice between the known and the unknown, frankly, it seems a lot of us would rather just stay put, thank you very much.

“That’s the ‘What if…?’ that drove the writing on this one. How do we turn this life of ours into an everlasting one? Forget leaving a legacy or living on in other people’s memories, I mean staying put. Right here, right now, forever and ever. That it doesn’t work that way is the conflict in the play. And in us,” he says.

The American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award dates back to 1977. Any play receiving its professional premiere as a finished work, outside of New York City, is eligible for nomination, as long as it hasn’t opened in New York by the end of the calendar year.

Plays are nominated for the award ATCA members. Scripts are then read and honorees selected by a large committee of critics from different regions of the country.

This is Daniels’ third ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award nomination and it’s the seventh nomination for plays premiering at the PRTC. And, PRTC Artistic Director Guy Sanville, has directed six out of the seven nominated plays that premiered at The Purple Rose.

“Working on new plays is the most important part of our mission,” Sanville says in a press release. “To create new work with the likes of Jeff Daniels, Lanford Wilson and so many others has been my life’s work and greatest honor.”

Courtesy photo by Sean Carter Photography.
Courtesy photo by Sean Carter Photography.
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