The American Prize in Theater Performance, 2023-24

The American Prize in Theater Performance recognizes and rewards the best performances by professional, community and school theater companies in America, based on submitted recordings. There is no live competition. In this division we are accepting performances made within the last five years.


REVISED DEADLINE (because of many requests): Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023. Questions?

Email: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize is more than monetary. The Prize grew from the belief that a great deal of excellent music and theater being made in this country goes unrecognized and unheralded, not only in our major cities, but all across the country...in schools and churches, in colleges and universities, and by community and professional musicians. Laureates of The American Prize at all levels of achievement derive local, regional and national recognition to help generate jobs, build audiences and sustain careers. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners are announced to national arts media and on our websites, where winners are profiled. Semi-finalists, finalists and winners earn the right to use The American Prize logo and official seal on printed programs and other documents, and on the web. Thousands of artists have derived benefit from their participation in the contests of The American Prize.

SEMI-FINALISTS: All semi-finalists receive official certificates.

FINALISTS and RUNNERS-UP: All finalists receive certificates and short comments about their audition. Runners-up receive certificates and written, unbiased evaluations from our distinguished national panel of judges. When winners are announced on The American Prize blog, RUNNERS-UP are also profiled on the blog with their photos, biographies and website links.

WINNERS: A single winner in each category and/or division is selected. Winners receive certificates, written evaluations, personalized press releases sent by us to local media and other contacts you provide as part of your application, and cash prizes up to $500, depending on the year, the category and the number of entrants.
Only with your explicit permission, excerpts of winning performances may be posted to The American Prize channel on .

The judges reserve the right to award citations and honorable mentions as warranted, and to combine categories when necessary. The decision of the judges is final.

The American Prize in Theater Performance is offered in as many as four categories, based on company membership, and on the number and quality of entries. Applications on behalf of theater companies and departments may be made by its artistic director, board members or other leaders, such as faculty or administrators, or by company members themselves. Only one application per company per year may be submitted. Stage directors may apply separately for directing awards (see Directing Prizes).

In Theater, the categories are:
    1. professional theater company (all actors are paid)
    2. community theater company (some actors may be paid/some may be students)
    3. college or university theater department or club (mostly students/no paid actors—except guests/faculty participation ok). Select "smaller program" or "larger program" on the application form based on the individual situation at your school. Separate winners will be selected in each division as applications warrant.
    4. secondary or high school theater department or club

The contest is designed to evaluate staged theatrical performances in which a video recording has been made. Performances of opera or musical theater should be submitted in the Opera Performance or Musical Theater Performance categories.

Theater productions will be judged on broad criteria. In addition to the quality and appropriateness of individual actors in lead and supporting roles, weight will be given to staging, direction, set design and execution, costuming, lighting and special effects, and to the overall impact of the performance.

The competitions of The American Prize are open to all U.S. citizens, whether living in this country or abroad, and to others who have lived, worked or studied (or are currently living, working and/or studying) in the United States of America, its protectorates and territories. The American Prize does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, spiritual or personal belief, disability, sexual preference or gender identification. All application fees must be remitted in U.S. funds.


Every applicant must send certain required information by email.

Applicants can then complete their application either of two ways:


A. ONLINE ONLY: pay fees online, submit the downloaded application as a PDF or scan, along with the required emailed information (see application form), and include links to online audition selections. (Application forms for The American Prize can be filled out on computer, saved and emailed by using Adobe Reader 11. Download it free here.)

B. BY MAIL & EMAIL: mail the completed, downloaded application form and send audition selections on disc to the office, and email the required information (see application form), pay fees online, or by check, money order or credit card.


    1. Download the application form for The American Prize in Theater Performance. Select the category which best identifies the applicant.
    2. MAIL the completed application form by the deadline date or EMAIL it as a PDF or scan with your required email.

    3. If providing audition selections ONLINE, include the links in your required email (see application form.)

    4. If providing audition selections BY MAIL, include two identical recordings of the ensemble in performance, with the selections clearly indicated on both the recording itself and on the recording's cover or box. Be sure it lists applicant's name.
    5. Be sure to sign the form and pay the application fee. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above), or use this link: "Pay competition fees", or send check, money order or credit card information by mail.
    6. Be sure to email the required information (see application form.)

The application fee is $95 per application. Pay ONLINE (click "FEES/GIFTS" in the menu bar, above) or use this iink: "Pay competition fees" pay by credit card, or make checks payable to HCMT/The American Prize (see application form.) Application fees are nonrefundable. No incomplete applications will be accepted. When paying online, BE SURE to identify the applicant with the payment.


The American Prize in Theater Performance:

1. MAIL recordings of, or email ONLINE links to, at minimum approxiately twenty minutes of staged performance, either comedy or drama, which must include one complete act, recorded in front of an audience within the last five years. Neither the size, make-up, location or repertoire of any qualified organization limits its eligibility. Excellence within categories is the primary criteria for the selection of finalists and winners. Judges will watch from the beginning of the recording unless you request otherwise.


2. Company, director and work must be clearly identified on the disc itself and on the cover or box. We accept DVDs or online links only. No audio-only tapes.


3. If submitting ONLINE links, include them in your required email. Be sure to identify the links by title of the selection and provide any passwords necessary, so judges can easily access your audition. Links must remain active until the end of the contest year. PLEASE NOTE: The responsibility for the viability of links rests with the contestant. Please double-check that they work correctly.


4. There are no other restrictions. No materials will be returned.Completed applications will be confirmed by email.


SEND required email to: theamericanprize@gmail.com

GENERAL TIMELINE for this competition:


In general, the competition process is completed over a number of months. Semi-finalists are announced in the fall and winter, finalists in the winter & spring, followed by winners—after which all certificates, evaluations and prizes are mailed. Specific dates for the announcement of each stage of the competition are posted in regular updates to the competition's blog and facebook pages. Find those links on the homepage of this website.


The American Prize competitions are administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc. (HCMT), the 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Danbury, CT.