WASHINGTON, D.C.: Theatre for Young Audiences/USA has announced recipients of the 2016 Harold Oaks Awards. Dr. Megan Alrutz of University of Texas at Austin and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte will both receive honors this year. The award recognizes individuals and organizations for exemplary contributions to children’s theatre. The ceremony will be held on May 6 at the Kennedy Center.
Special awards will also be given to Linda Hartzell, artistic director of Seattle Children’s Theatre, and David Saar, artistic director of Childsplay in Tempe, Ariz. Both artistic directors are retiring this year.
Alrutz, assistant professor of applied theatre and community cultural engagement at UT Austin, was nominated for the award by incoming TYA/USA board member Elizabeth Horn. “As an artist, Megan creates, directs, and dramaturgs innovative performance work with and for young people,” said Horn in a statement. “Her theatre is visually dynamic, provocative, and smart…Megan brings a deep national perspective on the field, as well as innovative approaches to making theatre more inclusive.”
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte was nominated for the award by Michael Bobbit, the artistic director of Adventure Theatre MTC, who recently directed Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the theatre. Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo, Md., won the prestigious award last year.
“Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is a very special place,” said Bobbit in a statement. “It’s a place where the whole institution bands together to treat children to high-quality production and education programs. It is a place where children are treated as vital and the most important parts of our society. Everyone at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte cares with every fiber of their beings.”
In his nomination, Bobbit expressed the theatre’s addition of sensory-friendly performances to each mainstage production for audience members on the autism spectrum and their families.
“These words from a top-notch artist like Michael and the recognition by TYA/USA, the national service organization for the TYA field, are a testament to the accomplishments and dedication of all our staff, volunteers and community supporters,” said executive director Hannah Grannemann in a statement.