NEW YORK CITY: The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), the not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), announced last week that director and playwright Emily Mann will receive the annual Gordon Davidson Award, which will be presented in a virtual ceremony in winter 2021.
Named in honor of the founding artistic director of Los Angeles’s Center Theatre Group and one of the visionary leaders of the resident theatre movement, the Gordon Davidson Award recognizes a director or choreographer for lifetime achievement and distinguished service in the national nonprofit theatre.
Mann is the former artistic director and resident playwright of the McCarter Theatre Center. She is a multi-award-winning director, playwright, and screenwriter and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2019. Mann said in a statement that it is one of the great honors of her life to be awarded this lifetime achievement award in Davidson’s name, as he is one of her heroes in the American theatre.
“We both believed that theatre could make a difference in the national conversation,” Mann said in a statement. “We were drawn to plays of substance concerning political and social issues that mattered most to our time. We were both drawn to direct and produce new work (though I also love the classic repertoire) and we were always drawn to writers who dared to tell the hardest truths. Gordon supported my work as a director, as a playwright, and as an artistic director, and it was one of the great joys of my life (usually over post-theatre drinks) to argue passionately with him about politics, the theatre, the production we were working on, or the human condition at large. We shared a lot of laughter and a lot of tears over many decades. I extend my deepest gratitude to the Davidson family, SDCF, and the committee for thinking of me for this award. I will cherish it always.”
The selection committee met in September and consisted of Sheldon Epps, SDCF Trustee and Artistic Director Emeritus of Pasadena Playhouse; Tom Moore, who was mentored by Davidson and directed shows at the Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre; Laura Penn, executive director of SDC; Lisa Peterson, resident director at the Mark Taper Forum from 1995 to 2005; Warner Shook, who directed Davidson’s final Taper production; and Neel Keller, associate artistic director of Center Theatre Group. In a statement, Keller called Mann “an inspiration and shining light in our field.”
“Her work as a director, playwright, artistic director, and mentor over the last four decades has changed thousands of lives,” Keller continued. “She has created wonderful work and shone a light on so many, many emerging talents. Through her 30-year stewardship of the McCarter Theatre Center, she demonstrated how vital a theatre can be to the field, to the social discourse of the country, and to its specific hometown. In everything she has done she has furthered the principles held so passionately by Gordon Davidson.”
Founded in 1965, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) celebrates, develops, and supports professional stage directors and choreographers throughout every phase of their careers.
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