jakub | November 17, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Gloria Oladipo Receives Medina Prize for Cultural Criticism


Gloria Oladipo.

NEW YORK: New York-based critic and journalist Gloria Oladipo received the second annual Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism last weekend from the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) at its November 2023 conference in New York.

ATCA created the award last year to honor their late colleague and to recognize United States theatre critics and journalists from historically underrepresented groups who write about theatre and its role in reflecting people from various cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. The prize is also intended to encourage increased readership of cultural criticism by diverse writers and critics from underrepresented groups.

Oladipo, a New York-based journalist and playwright who hails originally from Chicago, has had work published in Teen Vogue, The Guardian, Bitch Media, and other publications. She was a 2022 National Critics Institute fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, an opportunity she was selected for via the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy. As a dramatist, she often writes black comedies about Black women that explore themes of caregiving, mental health, and trauma using a mix of realism and absurdism. She is a 2023-2025 Public Theater Emerging Writers Group Fellow, a 2022-2023 Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, and a 2023 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference resident.

At Sunday’s presentation, Oladipo discussed her approach to theatre criticism and her work as a playwright with the 2022 Medina Prize winner Brittani Samuel. As part of the Medina Prize, Oladipo received a cash award, a complimentary annual ATCA membership, and a stipend that offset costs to attend the recent 2023 ATCA conference in New York City. The prize was made possible in part by the generosity of Allied Media Projects’ Critically Minded project and the Foundation of the American Critics Association.

“Gloria Oladipo is an absolutely phenomenal, well-varied journalist and critic, and we are thrilled she has been chosen by our esteemed jury to receive the second annual Edward Medina Prize,” said ATCA chair David John Chávez in a statement. “In the spirit of our beloved friend Ed and his legacy, Gloria has proven to be a luminary in our industry, displaying the necessary tenets of journalism with integrity and skill.”

For The Guardian, Oladipo mostly covers breaking news, but she also writes about arts and culture.

“While news writing really wants you to live in the black and white, I think that arts writing and playwriting are really about the gray,” said Oladipo in a statement. “I find myself trying to embrace the gray more and advocating to live in the gray as news writers when everyone wants a headline that says X equals Y, exclamation point.”

The judges who reviewed applications included Mashaun Simon, marketing and public relations manager at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta; Mirla Criste, performer and professor; Claudia Alick, founder and director of Calling Up Justice; Wei Huan Chen, journalist; Lydia Forte, director and professor of theatre at Emory University; Russell Jones III, actor and Ensemble Studio Theatre board member; Alex Meda, director of engagement for the National New Play Network; and Yura Sapi, founder of Advancing Arts Forward.

Founded in 1974, the American Theatre Critics Association is the only national association of professional theatre critics in the United States. ATCA works to foster greater communication among theatre critics; provide training and networking opportunities and programs to foster emerging writers; advocate for freedom of expression; maintain ethical standards; respond to the continued evolution of the profession; and increase public awareness of theatre criticism as an important national resource.

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