You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Topher Payne wins national playwright award

Atlanta playwright Topher Payne has won one of the nation’s top honors for emerging playwrights. The American Theatre Critics Association announced that Topher Payne won its 2014 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for his work “Perfect Arrangement,” which premiered last June in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1993 to honor the memory of Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn, the award recognizes the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature.

Payne’s most recent work in the Atlanta area was “The Only Light in Reno,” produced at Roswell’s Georgia Ensemble Theatre in January. But his prolific output has included productions such as “Swell Party” at Georgia Ensemble in 2013, “Angry Fags” at 7 Stages in 2013 and “Evelyn in Purgatory” at Essential Theatre in 2012. His most produced play, “Beached Wails,” about sisters who sit out a hurricane at a beach house in Gulf Shores, Miss., had its world premiere with Atlanta Classical Theatre at 14th Street Playhouse in 2002.

The Washington, D.C. production of “Perfect Arrangement” was his first in a major market outside Atlanta. The play is about two same-sex couples — one male, one female — who work for the State Department during the Pink Scare of the 1950s during which “sexual deviants” were purged from government offices. They hide their sexual identities by arranging to appear as two heterosexual couples. The play had an initial workshop at Atlanta’s Process Theatre before its world premiere at D.C.’s Source Festival.

“Anything that gets people talking about your work is a big step forward for an unpublished playwright,” says Payne, 34. The award, which includes a $1000 prize, will be presented at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky., on April 5. Payne says he will use the opportunity to speak about the opportunities for playwrights to thrive in non-traditional markets.

“This is proof that it’s possible for playwrights to have an impact without basing their careers in New York or Chicago.”

Next up for Payne is the Atlanta premiere of his new play “Lake Bottom Prime,” at OnStage Atlanta April 25-May 17. Set in the mid-1920s, it’s about the draining of the lake in Wildwood Park in Columbus.

The award represents a tremendous step forward for the playwright — within hours of the announcement, Payne was receiving calls from New York theaters — but he says there are major theaters right here that have yet to produce his work that he still has his eye on.

“It just shows I’m still emerging,” he says. “There are ‘new markets’ on my to-do list that are right here in my own backyard.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Living

Interview: Lovely Mimi, first Asian woman on ‘Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,’ debuts Monday March 27
Interview: Lovely Mimi, first Asian woman on ‘Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,’ debuts Monday March 27

Lovely Mimi moved from Maryland to Atlanta to be part of “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” last fall.
Roof options expand with colors, materials
Roof options expand with colors, materials

Atlanta’s intense weather, ranging from scorching heat to hail-laden thunderstorms, can take a toll on a home’s exterior. Perhaps no other element takes the brunt like the roof, one of the most expensive and important components of a comfortable structure. Yet it’s not always first on homeowners’ minds. “A roof is a long-term...
Family History Fair April 8 in Lawrenceville

A free “Family History Fair” will be Saturday, April 8 from 9 a. m. until 1 p. m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), 3355 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville. This annual event includes numerous classes over four one-hour time slots. One set is the two-part computer class offered twice by Ben Peoples and requires...
Author Events March 26-April 1
Author Events March 26-April 1

Sybil Morial, “Witness to Change” 7 p.m. March 27. Lecture, signing. Free. Carter Presidential Library & Museum Theater, 441 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, 404-865-7100, Morial’s memoir captures rare glimpses of black professionals in an earlier New Orleans, when races lived side by side, social connections...
Marietta’s Malcolm Freberg’s ‘Survivor’ post mortem third time around

“The Tables Have Turned” – Malcolm Freberg and Jeff Probst at Tribal Council on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers, airing Wednesday, March 22 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
More Stories