Eppler wins 2017 Osborn Award

The American Theatre Critics Association is pleased to announce that Nate Eppler has won the 2017 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright. The award will be presented at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville on April 8. The Osborn Award recognizes Eppler’s “The Ice Treatment,” which was premiered in July, 2016, presented by Actors Bridge Ensemble in partnership with Nashville Repertory Theatre.

(Click here for Nashville Arts Critic April 9 report of Eppler’s acceptance speech.)

Eppler serves as playwright-in-residence for Nashville Repertory Theatre. He directs the Nashville Repertory Theatre Ingram New Works Project, a nationally recognized and locally valued program designed to cultivate the development of new plays for the stage.

In “The Ice Treatment,” Eppler takes an iconic pop culture moment and transforms it into an interrogation of the American dream as an ice skater writes her own story, regardless of the truth.

Panelists on the American Theatre Critics Association’s New Play Committee, which selects the Osborn winner, called it “Compelling, with fast moving story and well-constructed dialogue… plus a cosmonaut.” It’s “a darkly funny take on celebrity,” concerning a “modern day, working-class monster—or is she?”

ATCA’s Osborn Award is designed to recognize the work of an author who has not yet achieved national stature. The award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Theatre Communications Group and American Theatre play editor M. Elizabeth Osborn. It carries a $1,000 prize, funded by the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association. Visit for a list of previous Osborn Award winners.

Making the selection from plays nominated by ATCA members is the ATCA New Plays Committee, chaired by Lou Harry, arts & entertainment editor for the Indianapolis Business Journal and That committee also selects honorees for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award.

Other committee members are: Misha Berson, Seattle Times, American Theatre (Seattle, WA); Bruce Burgun, The New Orleans Advocate (New Orleans, LA.); Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, WI); Mike Fischer, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI); Pam Harbaugh,, (Indialantic, FL); Michael P. Howley, (Montgomery, AL); Erin Keane, managing editor, (Louisville, KY); Mark Lowry,, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas, TX); Jonathan Mandell,, DC Theatre Scene (New York, NY); Julius Novick, veteran critic and professor (New York City); Marjorie Oberlander, The Shakespeare Newsletter  (New York, NY); Kathryn Osenlund, Phindie, CurtainUp (Philadelphia); Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, Va); David Sheward,, (Jackson Heights, NY); Martha Wade Steketee,, TDF Stages (New York, NY); and Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing,, (Charlotte, NC).

The American Theatre Critics Association was founded in 1974 and works to raise critical standards and public awareness of critics’ functions and responsibilities. The only national association of professional theater critics, it has several hundred members who work for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and websites across the United States. ATCA is also a national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics, a UNESCO-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars and congresses worldwide.

ATCA also presents the Francesca Primus Prize, funded by the Francesca Ronnie Primus Foundation, honoring outstanding contributions to the American theater by female artists who have not yet achieved national prominence. Annually it makes a recommendation for the Regional Theater Tony Award presented by the American Theatre Wing/Broadway League and votes on inductions into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Lou Harry, ATCA New Plays Chairman,
Wm. F. Hirschman,, ATCA Executive Committee Chair,


Jessika Malone Named Associate Artistic Director

August 30, 2016Producing Artistic Director Vali Forrister, the Board of Directors, and Company Members of Actors Bridge Ensemble are thrilled to announce that Jessika Malone has been named Associate Artistic Director for the company.


A native Nashvillian, Malone recently returned home after receiving her Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatrical Directing from the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University where she directed for university and community audiences as well as inside the state’s correctional facilities.

Most recently, Malone directed Edith Freni’s This Is About You in Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Festival, co-produced the world premiere of Nate Eppler’s The Ice Treatment at Actors Bridge, and curated the 6th annual Sideshow Fringe Festival, which she co-founded in 2011.

Malone began working with the Actors Bridge Ensemble in 2007, upon graduating from Belmont University. This season marks her 10th anniversary as an associate artist. “I could not imagine a better time to be recommitting to the city I love as it is exploding with tremendous growth and possibility,” Malone says. “The energy of this moment is palpable, perhaps most so in our creative community where there’s great promise of what possible futures lie ahead.”

At Actors Bridge, what lies ahead is a 21st season brimming with the kind of forward-thinking theatre Malone and Forrister are known for delivering. “Actors Bridge is committed to taking risks in all aspects of production: from the stories we tell to the emerging artists in whom we invest. One of the best decisions I ever made was the choice to invest in Jessika while she was still a student at Belmont. Even then, she had a bold vision and collaborative spirit that sparked greater creativity from everyone in the room,” explains Forrister.

“The fact that she chose to return home to Actors Bridge when she could have had her pick of cities in which to work, is a beautiful testament to her loyalty and generosity to both Actors Bridge and Nashville,” Forrister says.

Malone started as the company’s business manager and has served on production and creative teams in nearly every capacity during her tenure with the organization, frequently producing for the company and directing at least one offering every season. As a director, she is known for embracing challenging, often provocative, contemporary work that forefronts the experiences of women and addresses issues of social justice.

In her new role as Associate Artistic Director, Malone will assist Forrister with season selection and oversee a variety operations. This season, she will direct the regional premiere of Failure: A Love Story, continue to curate and produce the annual Sideshow, devise a new work based on Nashville’s stories of hauntings funded by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission’s Creation Grant, and teach in the company’s actor training program.

In addition to her work with Actors Bridge, Jessika will be directing the regional premiere of Will Eno’s Gnit, a modern re-imagining of Ibsen’s classic, Peer Gynt, for Vanderbilt University in early 2017.

“It really is a homecoming,” says Malone, “familiar in all the best ways and yet, the beginning of something entirely new. I’m honored that Vali and the board are empowering me to take the next step in my professional journey at Actors Bridge because I do believe in Nashville and I believe in the artists who call it home.”

Next up at Actors Bridge, Malone and Forrister produce the Nashville premiere of The Patron Saint of Losing Sleep by Diana Grisanti, directed by Leah Lowe September 9-11 & 15-18, 2016 in the ABE Studio at Darkhorse Chapel.