ADV – Leaderboard

Vivienne Benesch Honored With SDC’s Fichandler Award

PlayMakers’s producing artistic director receives an award named for one of her mentors and idols.

Vivienne Benesch. (Photo by Alison Sheehy)

NEW YORK CITY: The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has announced that Vivienne Benesch, producing artistic director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, N.C., is the 2017 of its annual Zelda Fichandler award, presented to an individual committed to the arts who has made significant creative contributions to theatre in the U.S. Each recipient receives a grant of $5,000.

Benesch, now in her second season at PlayMakers, has directed acclaimed productions of Molly Smith Metzler’s The May Queen, Deborah Salem Smith’s Love Alone, John Logan’s RED, Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room and Libby Appel’s adaptation of Three Sisters. From 2005 to 2016 she was the artistic director of Chautauqua Theater Company and Conservatory, presiding over the company’s transformation into a preeminent summer theatre and a competitive summer training program. Vivienne has also directed at Trinity Rep, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and for the Juilliard School Drama Division, where she has also served on the faculty.  She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program, where she had the great fortune to study under Zelda Fichandler and Ron Van Lieu.

“Vivienne Benesch epitomizes the ideal choice for the Zelda Fichandler Award,” said Warner Shook, chairman of SDC’s selection committee, in a statement. “She is a mid-career artist working at the peak of her powers, as she has so readily demonstrated in both upstate New York and now in North Carolina with her insightful, thrilling work.”

Among the two finalists were Curt Columbus, of Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I, and Wendy C. Goldberg, of Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Waterford, Conn.


Zelda Fichlander founded Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Her production of The Great White Hope, which premiered at Arena Stage in 1968, received a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize after transferring to Broadway. Stage Directors and Choreographers foundation supports the creative lives of directors and choreographers and honors dedicated artists in these roles.

Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by joining TCG, which entitles you to copies of our quarterly print magazine and helps support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism.

ADV – Billboard