NEW YORK CITY: Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) has announced the winner of the inaugural Barbara Whitman Award, which was established by producer Whitman to recognize a female, trans, or nonbinary early-career director who has demonstrated a unique vision in their work. The inaugural winner is Sharifa Yasmin, who will receive an unrestricted $10,000 cash prize.
“Being a part of trans and Arab American communities, we are so often told that we don’t matter—that our voices are insignificant,” said Yasmin in a statement. “I became a director to change what stories are being told, to uplift voices that are so often silenced, to tell myself and my communities that we are here and we deserve to be heard. This award is life-changing for me in that endeavor, both in the recognition of my labor and in the support that enables me to continue this work. I am profoundly grateful to SDCF, Barbara Whitman, and this incredible committee for seeing my voice, my goals, my craft, and saying they matter.”
Yasmin was chosen by a committee that included Christopher Burney, Luis Castro, Mia Katigbak, Moisés Kaufman, Dan Knechtges, Shakina Nayfack, Leigh Silverman, Eric Ting, and Tamilla Woodard. Whitman chaired the committee. Of the 100 applications SDCF received, six other directors were named finalists: Ty Defoe, Miranda Haymon, Tara Moses, Aya Ogawa, Tatiana Pandiani, and Mei Ann Teo.
“I’m thrilled that Sharifa Yasmin has been named the inaugural winner of this award,” said Whitman in a statement, “and I’m equally excited that we were able to name six other exceptional directors as finalists. The caliber of the applicants was outstanding, and I’m honored to get the chance to help lift up the work of these extraordinary storytellers.”
Sharifa Yasmin (she/her) is a trans Egyptian American director and playwright. She has completed directing fellowships with the Drama League, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Manhattan Theatre Club, Geva Theatre, Pure Theatre, and Hypokrit Theatre, and she is a 2020 Eugene O’Neill national directing fellow. Directing credits include The War Boys by Naomi Wallace, 3:59AM by Marco Ramirez, In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, for colored girls… by Ntozake Shange, Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist by Carolyn Gage, and Mosque4Mosque by Omer Abbas Salem. She has assisted directors including Pirronne Yousefzadeh, Steve H. Broadnax III, Saheem Ali, Leslie Ishii, Mark Brokaw, Arpita Mukherjee, Sharon Graci, and Meredith McDonough. Yasmin’s plays have been produced with Uprising Theatre Company, Trans Theatre Fest, and Women’s Theatre Festival; taught at DePaul University; and published in The Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays. Her short film, Blinding, a series of stories centered around the global impact of COVID-19, is in development with the Antiviral Film Project. Starting Fall 2021, Yasmin will be a MFA Directing Candidate at Brown/Trinity Rep.
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