Becca Blackwell and Lear deBessonet Among Recipients of Impact Awards

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced the seven recipients of the Impact Awards, who will each receive $80,000.

NEW YORK CITY: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced the second class of recipients for the 2015 Doris Duke Impact Awards. The seven recipients, all within the theatre field, are Becca Blackwell, Lear deBessonet, Morgan Jenness, Dohee Lee, Carlos Murillo, Brooke O’Harra, and Pamela Z. They will each receive $80,000.

Becca Blackwell (Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein)
Becca Blackwell (Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein)

Blackwell is an NYC–based trans performer whose resume includes Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show, Tina Satter and Half Straddle’s Seagull (Thinking of you) and Jack Spicer’s Billy the Kid, a collaborative musical by Lisa D’Amour, fellow Impact awardee O’Harra, and composer Brendan Connelly. Blackwell is currently working on They, Themself and Schmerm which will premiere in October 2015.

DeBessonet is the director of the Public Works program at the Public Theater in NYC, an initiative that brings members of the community together to participate in workshops, take classes, attend performances, and create a piece of theatre. She has garnered many awards for her productions and community activism, including an Obie Award for her direction of Good Person of Szechwan starring Taylor Mac. She will next direct a Public Works production of The Odyssey Sept. 4–7, with music by composer Todd Almond, collaborating with community groups and individuals throughout all five boroughs of New York City.

Jenness is is a freelance dramaturg who has worked at the Public Theater for more than a decade as a manager, director, and associate producer. She won an Obie Award Special Citation for longtime support of playwrights. Her current project is This Distracted Globe, a consulting entity intended to provide dramaturgical input and overall guidance to creative projects.

Dohee Lee (Photo by Pak Han)
Dohee Lee (Photo by Pak Han)

Lee is an Oakland, Calif.–based performer who combines Korean dance, music, and shamanism with modern mediums including electronic instruments, video, and customized software. Her work includes MAGO and FLUX. She is currently working on ARA: Waterways Time Weaves, a dance/theatre piece that will integrate real-life stories with movement, music, installation art, and technology to form “a community-driven performance ritual.”

Murillo is a Chicago–based playwright. His plays include dark play or stories for boys. He is currently a member of the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit and heads the BFA Playwriting Program of the Theatre School of DePaul University. He is currently developing a music-theatre piece The Ballad Hunters and his book The Javier Plays will be released in September.

O’Harra is the co-founder of NYC–based ensemble the Theatre of a Two-headed Calf, where she has developed and directed all 14 of the company’s productions. She most recently developed the musical Jack Spicer’s Billy the Kid, starring fellow Impact artist Blackwell.

Z is a San Francisco–based artist who integrates recorded voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video into her work. Her pieces include Baggage Allowance and Wunderkabinet, co-composed with Matthew Brubeck. Her most recent solo project, Memory Trace, will premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in April 2016.

The Impact Awards are part of the Doris Duke foundation’s 10-year initiative to empower, invest and celebrate artists. “This year’s group is a thrilling one—we are honored to support them and look forward, not only to how they will use their funds, but to the ways they will shape and change the performing arts in the future,” said program director Ben Cameron in a statement.

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