2020 Horton Foote Prize Goes to Lloyd Suh’s THE CHINESE LADY

2020 Horton Foote Prize 

Lloyd Suh 2020 Horton Foote Prize winner

Lloyd Suh

New York, NY (September 9, 2020) — Mari Marchbanks (Founder and Executive Director) announced today that The 2020 Horton Foote Prize has been awarded to Lloyd Suh for his play The Chinese Lady. Awarded since 2010, the biennial prize is named in honor of the late playwright, and recognizes excellence in American theatre.

Mr. Suh’s achievements will be celebrated at a private online reception on Sunday, September 13th.  He will be presented with $50,000 and a limited edition of Keith Carter’s iconic photograph of Horton Foote, which is found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Suh’s The Chinese Lady was nominated for The Horton Foote Prize by Ma-Yi Theater Company (New York). Over 70 theatres throughout the country, all with a strong history for producing new work, were invited to submit a produced or unproduced play for consideration. After a national reading committee narrowed the field, ensuring that each script received multiple blind readings, a selection committee selected the top finalists to be presented to the judges.

The four judges of the 2020 Horton Foote Prize are award-winning actor, and daughter of Horton Foote, Hallie Foote, serving as Chair; Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Adam Greenfield; Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra; and award-winning playwright and director Chay Yew.

Inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh spins a tale of dark poetic whimsy in this piercing portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman. The Chinese Lady follows Afong Moy, Age 14, brought to the United States in 1834 from Beijing, and put on display for the American public.

Over the next 45 years, she performs in a sideshow that both defines and challenges her own view of herself. Blurring the line between the observed and the observer, The Chinese Lady gives us new eyes on the history of American entitlement and immigration.

“…by the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history. She’s no longer the Chinese lady. She is us.”
Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times

Regarding Mr. Suh’s play, Judge Chair Hallie Foote commented, “Told with humanity and humor, this play haunted me. Lloyd Suh explores memory, and longing, loss and fortitude. He gently makes us think, ponder and examine our beliefs and all the things we take for granted.”

Commissioned by Ma-Yi Theater Company, The Chinese Lady began its journey as a Co- world premiere, first premiering at Barrington Stage Company, followed by a production presented by Ma-Yi Theater in New York in November 2018. Continuing with critically acclaimed productions across the country throughout the spring of 2019 and the 2019/20 season, the COVID-19 shutdown cancelled a planned production at Long Wharf Theatre, with slated productions planned for the 20/21 season delayed for the time being.

Previous recipients of the Horton Foote Prize include Lynn Nottage for Ruined, Will Eno for Middletown, David Lindsay-Abaire for Good People, Naomi Wallace for The Liquid Plain, Dan O’Brien for The Body of an American, Suzan-Lori Parks for Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3), Jordan Harrison for Marjorie Prime, Zayd Dohrn for The Profane, Lauren Yee for Cambodian Rock Band, and Jaclyn Backhaus for India Pale Ale.

The Horton Foote Prize is funded by the Greg and Mari Marchbanks Family Foundation of Austin, Texas.


Lloyd Suh is the author of The Chinese Lady, Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery, American Hwangap, The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go!, Franklinland, Jesus in India, and others, produced with Ma-Yi, Magic Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NAATCO, Milwaukee Rep, PlayCo, Denver Center, ArtsEmerson, Children’s Theatre Co, and more, including internationally at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and with PCPA in Seoul, Korea.

He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, Mellon Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, TCG, and Dramatists Guild. He is an alum of EST’s Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, was a recipient of a 2016 Helen Merrill Award, the 2019 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship. From 2005-2010 he served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the May-Yi Writers Lab, and from 2011-20 as the Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark. He was elected in 2015 as a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.

Horton Foote won the Pulitzer Prize for his play The Young Man From Atlanta and received two Academy Awards for his screenplays for the films To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. His work has also been produced on Broadway, off-Broadway as well as in theaters throughout the United States. His many honors, in addition to the Pulitzer and Academy Awards®, include Drama Desk, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama and the 2000 National Medal of Arts Award from President Bill Clinton.

He is also a member of The Theatre Hall of Fame. In 2008, his play Dividing the Estate won the Obie and Outer Critics Circle Best Play Awards for its Off- Broadway premiere by Primary Stages. In 2008, the play transferred to Broadway under the auspices of Lincoln Center Theater, earning Foote his second Best Play Tony nomination. In 2009-2010, his epic masterwork, The Orphans’ Home Cycle was co-produced by Hartford Stage Company and Signature Theatre Company, and received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award.

In 2013, The Trip to Bountiful was revived on Broadway (winning a Best Actress Tony Award for Cecily Tyson), and premiered in 2014 as a new Lifetime film, earning two Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Movie. His memoirs, Farewell and Beginnings, are published by Scribner.


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