National Theatre Conference Honors Elizabeth McCann, Dominique Morisseau, and New Federal Theatre with 2012 Awards
The National Theatre Conference (NTC), an organization founded in 1925 that meets annually in New York to discuss relevant issues in today's theatre community and to celebrate outstanding achievement in the American theatre, has named the recipients of its 2012 awards. Broadway producer Elizabeth McCann (photo left) has been named Person of the Year; the New Federal Theatre, under the direction of its founder, Woodie King, Jr., is the recipient of the Theatre of the Year Award; and playwright Dominique Morisseau has been selected as the winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award. All three will be presented with their awards and honored at The Players and at Signature Theatre during NTC's annual conference in New York October 26-28, 2012.
Announcing this year's awards, NTC President Dan Carter, Director of the School of Theatre at Penn State University, said "The most visible contribution of The National Theatre Conference–and the most rewarding activity for its membership–is our recognition of the achievements represented by these awards. It is our pleasure and our privilege to honor all those whose accomplishments these awards represent."
Nominations for Outstanding Theatre and Person of the Year come from the membership and are screened by committees made up of members who then make recommendations to the Board of Trustees and the President. In the case of the Stavis Playwright Award, nominations come from the artistic directors of producing theaters, and are then screened by an NTC committee and a recommendation made to the Board and to the President. Winners of the Outstanding Theatre Award and the Stavis Playwright Award each receive a check for $1000.00. In addition the artistic director of the Theatre of the Year is given the opportunity to select an Outstanding Emerging Professional and the Person of the Year winner picks the annual Paul Green Foundation Award, which is also awarded to an emerging talent. Both of these awards also include a $1000.00 check.
Named one of the Most Powerful Women in New York (Crain's New York), Elizabeth I. McCann joins such past NTC honorees as Edward Albee, John Guare, and Anna Deavere Smith in this category. Ms. McCann's record of accomplishments in the American theatre is legend and she being involved in the production of more than 60 shows and has won eight Tony Awards for Broadway productions of The Goat, Copenhagen, A View from the Bridge, Dracula, Elephant Man, Nicholas Nickleby, Morning's at Seven, and Amadeus.
The New Federal Theatre and founder Woodie King, Jr., (photo right) have given two generations of minority artists opportunities to develop their craft. New Federal has been instrumental in the careers of playwrights such as J.E. Franklin, Ron Milner, Ed Bullins, Ntozake Shange, David Henry Hwang, Pearl Cleage, and Charles Fuller; directors Kenny Leon, Oz Scott, Richard Gant, Melvin Van Pebbles, and Al Freeman Jr.; and actors Morgan Freeman, S. Epatha Merkerson, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne, Garrett Morris, Robert Downey, Jr., Debbie Allen, Arthur French, and Phylicia Rashad. In 2011, Woodie King, Jr. was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
Dominique Morisseau (photo below), selected for her play Detroit 67, is a playwright and actress, and a current member of the 2010-2012 Women's Project Playwrights Lab and the 2010/2011 Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group. In September, her play Sunset Baby premiered at The Gate Theatre in London. The Public Theater will produce Detroit 67 in the spring of 2013 with Kwame Kwei-Armah directing. Her play Follow Me To Nellie's was developed at the 2010 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and has received readings with The Standard, Penumbra Theatre Company, and the Classical Theatre of Harlem. As an actress, she has worked with Women's Project, MCC Theater, Lark Play Development Center, NYS&F, and McCarter Theatre. Her literary work has been published in several publications, including New York Times bestseller Chicken Soup for the African American Soul. Ms. Morisseau is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award Honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award Recipient, a two-time nominee for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize in Playwriting, and a two-time PONY Award nominee.
The National Theatre Conference is an organization founded in 1925 that meets annually in New York City to celebrate outstanding achievement in the American Theatre. Membership is strictly limited to no more than 150 leaders from the professional and academic theatre that serve as a "think tank" dedicated to the continued development of theatre in this country. In addition to awards recognizing and celebrating excellence in the theatre, the NTC has worked actively to promote positive change in the theatre. Last year NTC launched its Women Playwright's Initiative, which has challenged its membership to take part in a three-year program in which their theatres include at least one full production of a play by an American woman in an effort to bring more plays by women to university, community, and professional theatres.