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The 2023 SMA Awardees: John M. Atherlay, Gwen Gilliam, Brett Finley, Elynmarie Kazle, Robert J. Bruyr, and Lisa Dawn Cave, Beverly Jenkins, Jimmie Lee Smith and Kenneth J. McGee of Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color.

Stage Managers’ Association Names 2023 Awardees

This year’s honorees include John M. Atherlay, Gwen Gilliam, Brett Finley, Elynmarie Kazle, Robert J. Bruyr, and Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color.

NEW YORK CITY: The Stage Managers’ Association (SMA) has announced the recipients of its annual awards. Theatrical production stage managers John M. Atherlay and Gwen Gilliam, and opera production stage manager Brett Finley, will receive Del Hughes Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management. Elynmarie Kazle will be recognized with the Founders Award. Special recognition awards will be presented to Robert J. Bruyr and the organization Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color, founded by Lisa Dawn Cave, Beverly Jenkins, Jimmie Lee Smith, and Kenneth J. McGee. The Del Hughes Awards Event, sponsored by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, will take place on Nov. 6, with details to be announced.

Instituted in 1986, the stage management lifetime achievement award was named for Del Hughes, a Broadway and television stage manager as well as a TV director from 1933 to the 1970s. This honor is awarded to those who represent the finest qualities and artistic achievement in stage management throughout their lifelong career. Honorees are chosen each February from nominations submitted by industry members.

John M. Atherlay’s 40-year career spans Broadway, national tours, Off-Broadway, regional and summer stock theatres, and cruise ships. His work on Broadway includes original companies of Beauty and the Beast and Xanadu, and a revival of The Seagull with Tyne Daly and Jon Voight. He has production stage managed more than 25 national tours, including Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury, Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, The Band’s Visit, The Producers, and A Soldier’s Play. He served as a stage manager councilor at Actors’ Equity for 20 years and a three-time chair of the SMA.

Brett Finley has been production stage managing opera and sharing her love of that art form with her colleagues and students for over 40 years. She has stage managed operas across the country and internationally including Spoleto Festival USA (20 seasons), Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Lyric Opera of Chicago / Scenario Two, San Francisco Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, San Diego Opera, Tulsa Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and many more. Brett created the BFA program in Stage Management at the University of Michigan.

Gwen Gilliam has worked on Broadway, national, and international tours. Productions include Walking With Ghosts, Slave Play, Eclipsed, Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Bring In Da Noise/Bring In Da Funk, Topdog/Underdog, Chicago, Fences, The Wild Party, and Fela!. Her producing credits include Nativity: A Life Story, W.E.B. DuBois: Souls of Black Folk, and Harlem Song. In addition, she has production managed special events for numerous charities and corporations including Jackie Robinson Foundation, Merrill Lynch, BideaWee, Avon, Rainforest Foundation, New Line Cinema, NY Film Society, and NMSDC.

Elynmarie Kazle has made an impact through four decades of service and a stage management career that spans 30 years in dance, theatre, opera, and special events. Serving on multiple nonprofit arts boards throughout her career and promoting the importance of a career in stage management, she also served nine years on AEA’s stage management committee, nine years as the chair of the SMA, and eight terms on the board of USITT, launching the Stage Management Mentor Project. Currently Elynmarie supports new work, shares her knowledge through education, and is the president of the new Stage Managers’ Association Foundation.

Robert J. Bruyr joined the Actors’ Equity Association’s Stage Manager’s Committee in 1968 while working as a stage manager and was subsequently elected to council as an equity principal councilor. Later, as an AEA senior business representative, Bob became SM committee staff, supervised Equity member disciplinary proceedings, and was Equity’s stage manager ombudsman. He regularly spoke at SMA events regarding Equity’s activities during the year. Retiring in 2002, he is proudest of his honorary life memberships in the SMA and Actors’ Equity.

Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color is a networking organization that connects early and mid-career BIPOC stage managers with industry professionals. Led by veteran stage managers Lisa Dawn Cave, Beverly Jenkins, Jimmie Lee Smith, and Kenneth J. McGee, Broadway & Beyond provides opportunities to aspiring and current stage managers of color to learn from industry insiders and meet industry leaders, and provides insights to help BIPOC stage managers start, maintain, and advance a career in the arts and theatre through free networking and educational events.

The Stage Managers’ Association of the United States (SMA) is the only national professional
organization for working stage managers across the United States. Their mission is to recognize,
advocate for, and provide continuing education and networking opportunities, creating
community for stage managers across the USA and connecting them with the world through
an International Cohort.

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