Nominees Of The 2019 United Solo Special Award Announced
United Solo, the world's largest solo theatre festival, is proud to present the nominees of the 2019 United Solo Special Award. The Special Award recognizes and celebrates outstanding solo performers. These are artists who create captivating performances outside the United Solo Festival and have brought the art of solo theatre to new heights. It is United Solo's mission to provide a platform to solo artists who are committed to creating solo theatre that focuses on the uniqueness of the human being. These artists have pushed the boundaries of solo theatre in unique ways and the Special Award will honor an artist whose work in the last year deserves particular recognition. Previous recipients of the Special Award include Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), Billy Crystal (2014), James Lecesne (2015), Staceyann Chin (2016), Michael Moore (2017), and Renée Taylor (2018).
This year's nominees for the United Solo Special Award are acclaimed artists who have made their mark in the world of solo theatre. The list of nominees for the 2019 United Solo Special Award includes Michael C. Hall, Alison S. M. Kobayashi, Aasif Mandvi, Maggie Smith, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Colin Quinn. From legendary two-time Oscar winner Dame Maggie Smith, who has enchanted audiences worldwide, to Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, star of the hit TV show "Dexter," the standard of talent this year is quite extraordinary. Phoebe Waller-Bridge from the hit show "Fleabag" and former "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi are also part of the star-studded nominee list this year.
The winner of the 2019 United Solo Special Award will be announced at the Festival's Closing Gala on November 24, 2019, held at Theatre Row in New York. The winners of the United Solo Special Award are selected by a panel of over eighty theatre professionals. The nominees have been recommended by the United Solo Academy, as well as independent theatergoers. More details about the nominees can be found at www.unitedsolo.org/us/uaward-2019.
Michael C. Hall charismatically scrutinized a grim human condition in Will Eno's "Thom Pain (based on nothing)." His sharp portrayal of a man trapped in an abstract space by his sense of nihilism and cosmic futility achieved something remarkable: it brought dramatic clarity to a restless, obsessive and free-associative mind. Mr. Hall projected an awareness of the absurdity and randomness of life, in a precise performance that gave fierce and vital energy to complex existential themes.
In "Say Something Bunny!," Alison S.M. Kobayashi solved the mystery of two antiquated voice recorder reels that she found by accident, transporting her audience through time to investigate a long-ago dinner party and its guests. Using incomplete clues suggesting family relationships and emotional complexities, Ms. Kobayashi embarked on a deeply empathic journey to fill in the blanks. Due to enthusiastic popular demand, this powerful show has been deservingly extended for additional performances this fall through January.
Aasif Mandvi portrayed several hopeful and striving characters grappling with family, tradition, and the exasperating culture of their adopted country at an Indian restaurant in the East Village. "Sakina's Restaurant" was an iconic exploration of the immigrant experience when it premiered in 1998, and this moving and hilarious revival had only gained in relevance and impact. Mr. Mandvi virtuosically portrayed the earnestness and vulnerability of hyphenated New Yorkers finding their way in his deeply pleasurable and illuminating play.
The legendary Maggie Smith, one of the great actresses of our time, brought severe humanity to her portrayal of an ordinary German woman who became a stenographer for the Nazi propaganda ministry and unquestioningly participated in its atrocities. Ms. Smith's extraordinary performance in Christopher Hampton's "A German Life" was a master class in subtlety and power, as it explored the banality of evil from the perspective of an elderly woman alternately evading and confronting her memories.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's "Fleabag," the supremely witty and thrilling account of a hedonistic millennial woman's freedom of thought and sexuality, has rightly become a phenomenon. In her show, which was adapted into the beloved TV series, Ms. Waller-Bridge gave exuberant expression to the ambivalent paradoxes and emotional extremes of contemporary urban life. Like the best of auteurs, Ms. Waller-Bridge filtered a whole world through one unforgettable character's dynamic point of view.
Ever the quintessential New Yorker who's seen it all, Colin Quinn broke down present-day cultural divisions with signature candor in "Red State Blue State." He took on hot-button controversies in an audacious show fueled by irascible comedy and plainspoken common sense. Without insisting that the audience agree with him on every single issue, Mr. Quinn refreshingly evoked the America that might be possible if people put down their phones and made a reasonable effort to understand each other.
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