Jessica Lange Among Trinity Rep's 2017 Pell Award Honorees

Jessica Lange Among Trinity Rep's 2017 Pell Award HonoreesTrinity Repertory Company announces that Jessica Lange will be honored with the 2017 Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts at the 21st annual Pell Awards Gala to be held on Monday, May 22, 2017 at the new WaterFire Arts Center in Providence.

Philanthropists and longtime arts advocates Joseph L. Dowling, Jr. and Sally Dowling will be honored with the Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts. Actor Ricardo Pitts-Wiley will receive a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) will receive the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts.

The event is co-chaired by Brett Smiley and Jim DeRentis and Lisa Bisaccia and Robert Naparstek, with honorary co-chairs Clay Pell and Michelle Kwan, Tripler Pell and Tawfik Hammound and Eames Yates, Jr.

Tickets ($500/VIP ticket, $250/gala ticket) are now available at All proceeds benefit Trinity Rep's artistic and educational programs. For more information, call (401) 453-9237.

The Pell Awards honor Senator Claiborne Pell and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and the New England region as well as on the national level. Throughout his life, Senator Pell worked to support the arts and provide new opportunities for artists. He sponsored the landmark legislation that established the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities in 1965, and chaired the Senate Education and Arts subcommittee.

"There is no better way to honor Senator Claiborne Pell's dedication to the arts than by recognizing the talents and hearts of Jessica, Sally and Joe, Ricardo, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts," said Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Rep. "We are thrilled to celebrate their individual achievements, their commitment to bettering the world through art, and their dedication to their communities here in Rhode Island."


2017 Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts honoree, Jessica Lange

Acclaimed as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, Jessica Lange has dazzled the screen with over 30 credits to her name. Making her Hollywood debut in John Guillermin's King Kong opposite Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin, Lange won a Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture. Since then, she has permanently placed her name amongst the Hollywood elite, earning a total of two Academy Awards, three Emmys, five Golden Globes, a Tony, and a SAG Award.

Throughout her longstanding career, Jessica has continued to take on diverse roles in many acclaimed film and television projects. She received dual Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her challenging performances in Frances and in Sydney Pollack's memorable comedy Tootsie, for which she took home the Oscar for Supporting Actress. She won her second Oscar in 1994 for Best Actress in Blue Sky. Lange has also starred in legendary films such as Sweet Dreams, Music Box, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Country, Rob Roy, and Cape Fear.

Lange's presence on the television screen has been just as prominent. In 1996, she picked up her first Emmy nomination for the made for TV adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire in which Lange played "Blanche DuBois." Since then, she also starred in Normal, Sybil, Grey Gardens, and the critically acclaimed American Horror Story. Next up, Lange can be seen as the star of FX's Feud: Bette and Joan alongside Susan Sarandon and produced by Ryan Murphy. The eight-episode series premieres on Sunday, March 5, 2017.

Lead by co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, Jessica starred in four seasons of FX's horror anthology series American Horror Story. Throughout the four seasons, Lange won a Golden Globe, SAG Award, two Emmy Awards, as well as two other Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations.

Lange recently reprised her role as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neil's Long Day's Journey Into Night on Broadway. The performance earned her a Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Play," a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Drama League Award nomination.

2017 Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts honorees, Joseph L. Dowling, Jr. and Sally Dowling

Joe and Sally Dowling's long association with Trinity Repertory Company began in 1967 when, over Sally's objections, Joe volunteered to host a party to recruit their friends to become Trinity subscribers. Fifty years later and many subscription parties, fundraising events, Board and committee meetings later, they remain ardent fans. Joe and Sally each served as Board Chair during tumultuous times in the theater's history. Joe became Chair as the last man standing when half of the Board members resigned in protest over Adrian Hall's production of Son of Man and The Family. During his tenure, the Majestic Theatre was transformed into Trinity's permanent home. Joe continues to serve on Trinity's Board and is an enthusiastic and successful fundraiser. Sally served as Board Chair when the theater was in danger of closing following the controversial tenure of Artistic Director Anne Bogart. With the help of Richard Jenkins as Artistic Director and a grant from the City of Providence requiring a $1.2 million match, the crisis was averted.

A graduate oF Brown University and Tufts Medical School with post graduate training at Rhode Island Hospital and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Joe founded The Rhode Island Eye Institute where he practiced for over sixty years. He and his brother John coauthored the book Vision, recently published by MIT Press. In addition to his association with Trinity, Joe serves on the Boards of Bradley Hospital, Tides Family Services, Common Cause and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Sally is a graduate of Wellesley College, Northeastern Law School and holds a postgraduate degree from Boston University School of Law. In 1963-1964 she worked for Senator Pell in his Providence office. She has practiced law at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. since 1977 and currently serves as Chair of the Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission.

Joe and Sally have been married for 55 years. They have four children and thirteen grandchildren who give them great joy.

2017 Rhode Island Pell Award, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley

Ricardo Pitts-Wiley is an actor, director, playwright and composer. He has performed major roles at noted theaters throughout the country including Trinity Repertory Company, Actor's Shakespeare Project, Shakespeare and Company, The Old Globe Theater, San Diego Repertory, North Carolina Black Repertory, Rites and Reason, and Perishable Theater.

He recently completed work on Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow's film about the 1967 riots in Detroit with Star Wars star John Boyega. He has also appeared in feature role in House Sitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn as well as episodes of The Brotherhood, Against the Law, Spencer for Hire and A Case of Deadly Force.

In 2000 Ricardo Pitts-Wiley and his wife Bernadet formed Mixed Magic Theatre & Cultural Events, a non-profit arts organization, dedicated to presenting a diversity of cultural and ethnic images and ideas on the stage.

Ricardo has gained national acclaim for his page-to-stage adaptations of Moby Dick and Frankenstein. He has also done adaptations of Don Quixote, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, The Red Tent, and poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

In 2009, Ricardo was the Martin Luther King Visiting Scholar at MIT in Cambridge, MA. He is the author of four volumes of performance poetry, Reflections: Growing Up a Black Man in America, The Well of Woman, Night Voices and Man, Woman, Chaos. He also wrote seven songs for The Big Kitchen: A Counter Cultural Musical.

Ricardo wrote the book and lyrics for the musicals A Kwanzaa Song, Celebrations: An African Odyssey, Sara's Jukebox and The Spirit Warrior's Dream, as well as five plays including Fate Comes Knocking, 35 Miles From Detroit, The Baghdad Production of Romeo and Juliet, Blackstone: The Making of America and The Basketball Warrior.

In addition to teaching advanced and master acting classes offered through Mixed Magic Theatre. He has also, as an Artist-In-Residence or adjunct, directed and taught acting at colleges including MIT, The University of Southern California, The University of Rhode Island, Salve Regina University, Eastern Michigan University, Rhode Island College and Long Island University.

2017 Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts, The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

An agency of the State of Rhode Island, The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) was established in 1967 to "insure that the role of the arts in the life of Rhode Island communities" will continue to grow and play a significant part in the lives of all Rhode Islanders. To accomplish this, RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and support to artists, arts organizations, schools, community centers, social service organizations, and local governments. RISCA enters into strategic partnerships, outreach and convenings to advance its mission.

RISCA manages the State's Percent for Art program, which is responsible for commissioning and maintaining works of public art throughout Rhode Island. RISCA is also the home of the Rhode Island Film & Television Office, which attracts and supports major film and TV productions seeking to work in our state and assists local and independent film makers. Since 2014 RISCA has administered the State Cultural Facilities Grant program, which has invested over $30 million in funds in our state's cultural infrastructure.

Over its 50 year history, RISCA has had a significant impact on the Rhode Island arts community. Many of our state's most important arts organizations were established through early grant funding from the State Arts Council, and RISCA funding continues to be critical to these organizations. Generations of artists, some with international reputations, have pointed to early support they have received from RISCA as the motivation they needed to help launch and advance their career. The work that RISCA has done to ensure that every child in our state has access to quality arts education has helped students develop creativity and problem-solving skills that contribute to their success in life. This has been important to hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders, some of whom have gone on to careers in the arts, while others have been inspired by their experience at RISCA-funded programs like Trinity Rep's "Project Discovery".

The full list of past Pell Awards recipients includes Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts honorees Jane Alexander, Kate Burton, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Viola Davis, Olympia Dukakis, Laurie and Oskar Eustis, Adrian Hall, Richard and ShaRon Jenkins, Arthur Miller, Liza Minnelli, Toni Morrison, Robert Redford, Chita Rivera, Jason Robards, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Sills, Stephen Sondheim and Kevin Spacey; New England Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts honorees Brian Dennehy, Julie Harris, Jeffrey Osborne, Lloyd Richards, Gunther Schuller and John Updike; Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts honorees John Krasinski, Debra Messing, Amy Morton, and Trinity Rep Resident Acting Company; Pell Award/Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in/to the Arts honorees Elizabeth C. Chace, Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr., Martha Douglas-Osmundson, Adrian Hall, Mary Paula Hunter, P. William Hutchinson, Virginia Lynch, Lowry Marshall, Elaine Foster Perry and Julie Adams Strandberg; Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts Education honoree Ruth J. Simmons; Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts honorees Joseph A. Chazan M.D., Mihailo "Misha" Djuric, Michael Gennaro, Roger Mandle, Senator Claiborne Pell, J.L. "Lynn" Singleton and George Wein.

The State Theater of Rhode Island, Trinity Repertory Company is now in its 53rd season. Since its founding in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. Featuring the last permanent resident Acting Company in America, Trinity Rep presents a balance of world premiere, contemporary, and classic works for an estimated annual audience of approximately 110,000. Since 1963, the theater has produced 67 world premieres, mounted national and international tours, and, through its MFA program, trained hundreds of new actors and directors.

Tickets for the 2016-2017 season Ghosts of the Past, Dreams of the Future are on sale. The remaining season includes Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the world premiere of Faithful Cheaters by Deborah Salem Smith and Like Sheep to Water, or Fuente Ovejuna by Lope De Vega Carpio and adapted by Curt Columbus. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep's website at

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