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A.R. Gurney & Carmen de Lavallade to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honors at 61st Annual Obie Awards

The American Theatre Wing and The Village Voice have announced that legendary actor/dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and renowned playwright A.R. Gurney will each receive a special Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 61st Annual Obie Awards, which will be held on Monday, May 23, 2016 at Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street). Tickets to the 2016 Obie Awards are now available via

As was previously announced, Obie and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actress Lea DeLaria will return as the host of this year's Obie Awards. The Obie Award judge's panel for this season, headed by Village Voice columnist and longtime Obie chairman Michael Feingold, included Obie-winning actress Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Obie-winning director Oliver Butler, Obie-winning costume designer Clint Ramos, Obie-winning actress Juliet Rylance, Variety senior critic Marilyn Stasio, and freelance theatre critic Michael Sommers.

Carmen de Lavallade has had an unparalleled career in dance, theater, film and television. Lena Horne introduced her to the filmmakers at 20th Century Fox where she appeared in such movies as Carmen Jones and Odds Against Tomorrow with Harry Belafonte. Her dazzling dance career has included ballets created for her by Lester Horton, Geoffrey Holder, Alvin Ailey, Glen Tetley, John Butler and Agnes de Mille. Ms. De Lavallade appeared on Broadway in the musical House of Flowers, was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera, and was a guest artist with the American Ballet Theater. She has choreographed for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Philadanco, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the productions of Porgy and Bess and Die Meistersinger at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. de Lavallade also has had an extensive acting career performing in numerous off-Broadway productions including Death of a Salesman and Othello. She has taught movement for actors at the Yale School of Drama and became a member of the Yale Repertory Company and the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard. She and her late husband, Geoffrey Holder, were the subjects of the film Carmen & Geoffrey (2005), which chronicled their sixty year partnership and artistic legacy. Her most recent work includes 651 ARTS' FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance, Step-Mother by Ruby Dee, Post Black by Regina Taylor, and the 2012 Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Ms. de Lavallade has performed with such legendary artists as Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington. Now in her eighties, she is still performing with a supreme level of grace and elegance, inspiring generations of artists and audiences.

A.R. Gurney has been writing plays for over fifty years. Among them are The Dining Room, The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, Sylvia, Big Bill, Mrs. Farnsworth, Indian Blood, The Grand Manner, Office Hours and Black Tie. Several of his recent works have been produced off-Broadway by the Flea and Signature Theaters, as well as by The Westport Country Playhouse. He taught literature at M.I.T. for many years before turning to writing full time. Besides plays, he has written three published novels, several television scripts, and the librettos of two operas. Gurney has received many awards for plays and for the body of his work. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Theater Hall of Fame, and has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University. Married to his wife Molly for fifty-eight years, they boast four children and eight grandchildren.

Photos by Walter McBride

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