O’Neill Takes Major New Prize
The O’Neill Theater Center was named as the first winner of a $50,000 regional theatre award established by the Jujamcyn Theatres organization. O’Neill president George C. White Was scheduled to accept the award Nov. 19 in ceremonies at the Century Club in Manhattan.
The O’Neill, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, was cited for “an outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theatre.” Through its National Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute and other programs, the Center supports the development of new work and new writers. Commenting on the award, White emphasized that “research and development is of paramount importance to the future of theatre.”
The Jujamcyn Award is expected to be given annually to a regional theatre or organization. Jujamcyn president Richard Wolff said, “We are doing this to encourage creative talent that ultimately, we hope, will make a mark on Broadway.” The organization owns five Broadway theatres and manages three others.
To help theatre artists travel to see the work of nonprofit professional theatres nationwide and meet with their colleagues, the TCG board of directors this year expanded the eligibility for the TCG Observership Program to include both freelance and affiliated artists.
In the first round of 1984-85 Observerships, granted in September, awards totaling $8,745 were made to Michael Bigelow Dixon, literary manager at the Alley Theatre; Douglas Hughes, associate artistic director of Seattle Repertory Theatre; Martin Platt, artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Lloyd S. Riford III, freelance lighting designer; and Tim Stapleton, production designer for BoarsHead: Michigan Public Theater.
Awards to writers to be in residence during the rehearsal period of their plays went to Seattle’s The Empty Space for John Olive, author of Careless Love; New Playwrights Theatre of Washington, D.C. for Phoef Sutton, author of Burial Customs; and New York’s Theater of the Open Eye for Philip Kan Gotanda, author of The Dream of Kitamura.
“It’s essential that ways be found for directors, designers and other artists to see the work of their peers,” said TCG director Peter Zeisler in his announcement of the awards. “Artists always create their own centers so that they can see each other’s work and exchange ideas, especially in cities such as London, Paris and New York. In America we have now created numerous theatre centers in which artists can practice. The Observership Program is a way of connecting those centers and assisting artists in their development.”
Observerships are awarded on a competitive basis, selected from nominations made by artistic directors of TCG Constituent theatres. The next application deadline is Feb. 1, 1985.
“Try to remember,” wrote Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt 25 years ago, as part of the score of what was to become the world’s longest-running musical. The New England Theatre Conference took their advice with its 1984 awards for achievement in theatre. The collaborators, who followed The Fantasticks with several other musical works, were honored for “outstanding creative achievement” at the NET’s annual convention Nov. 9-11 in Providence, R.I. Special awards also went to Al Hirschfeld, theatrical caricaturist for 60 years for The New York Times, and Playbill, the 100-year-old theatre magazine. Regional citations praised actor Tony Shalhoub, artistic director Arvin Brown of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven and Dr. An Wang for his gift of $4 million to restore the Metropolitan Center in Boston.
The organization’s Moss Hart Memorial Award went to Wayland High School of Wayland, Mass., for its production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Awards went to Jane Waterhouse for Private Apartments and Julie Steiny for The Proposal.
Genius at Work
The explosive top hat and forbidding frock coat belong to actor and mime Bill Irwin, one of 25 “exceptionally talented individuals” chosen last month by the MacArthur Foundation of Chicago to receive cash prizes over five years. Irwin, now appearing in the Broadway production of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, is the first active performing artist to be selected in the four-year-old awards program, sometimes called the “search for geniuses.” The winners, who will receive between $176,000 and $300,000, include a number of scientists and scholars, as well as novelists Bette Howland and poet and translator Galway Kinnell. Irwin told The New York Times he intends to spend the monthly fellowship allowance, to begin with, on rent and food, and on videotapes of his comic influences, including Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and George Burns and Gracie Allen.
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