The Drama League Announces The Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships

Winner of the 2020 Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre Award, Gandy is as well-known for her prowess in publicity and producing as she is for her style and wit.

By: Dec. 05, 2023
The Drama League Announces The Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships
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The Drama League Announces The Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships

The Drama League has announced that they are naming their acclaimed program for emerging directors the Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships, for her storied career as a theatrical press agent, arts leader, and producer, as well as for her dedication to mentorship in the industry.

The Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships partners with acclaimed BIPOC/Global Majority stage directors to provide assistant directing opportunities on their productions across the United States to early-career BIPOC/Global Majority and/or historically marginalized directors,  to remove barriers facing these artists on their path to excellence in the field. The Assistantship Program is national, with partner theaters hosting Irene Gandy Assistantship Program participants all over the country at notable theaters including: 

Winner of the 2020 Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre Award, Gandy is as well-known for her prowess in publicity and producing as she is for her incredible style and wit.  In 2022, she was appointed to the Drama League Board of Directors, and, for over 50 years, has been the only Black female press agent member of ATPAM (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers). Working with Producer Jeffrey Richards for over three decades, she is a Tony-Award winning producer and has represented over 100 Broadway shows. In addition to work in theater, she has represented the annual Harlem Week festivities and received countless awards for her achievements in theater and beyond.

“Irene literally crafted a path in our industry when there was no path,” says Drama League Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks. “Since joining the Drama League's Board, Irene has spiritedly offered mentoring, education, and expertise to the Directors Project recipients. She teaches things they couldn't learn any other way -- in the exact same way the Assistantships will provide them knowledge, skills, and experience from working alongside respected Directors around the country. This is how we build the next generation of theatrical leadership and ensure a future for our field.”

The Drama League announced the naming on December 4, 2023 at 7pm at The Museum of Broadway. The Drama League Board of Directors and friends of Irene Gandy, and the cohort of Assistants whose careers will be forever changed by this experience, toasted the naming of the program after Gandy to celebrate her incredible legacy of excellence in the theater.

The Drama League will announce the next cohort of Irene Gandy Assistantship recipients to the industry at the Drama League Awards on May 17, 2024, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.

Programs of The Drama League are made possible thanks to the generosity of supporters with a particular interest in sustaining the American theatre. If you are interested in joining the Leadership Circle of supporters for the Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships Program please contact Helen O'Rourke, Associate Development Director at helen@dramaleague.org.

The Irene Gandy Directing Assistantships program is a part of The Directors Project, a suite of career development opportunities for early- and mid-career directors. Institutional funders for the Directors Project include the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, the Sylvia W. & Randle M. Kauders Foundation, the Jolene McCaw Family Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, the Leo Shull Charitable Fund for the Arts, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. Drama League programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. A special thanks goes out to Drama League Members, who provide important underwriting support for The Directors Project, as well as Drama League Directors Project Alumni, who collectively direct over 1,000 plays worldwide each season.

As the nation's only full-time creative and career development home for directors, The Drama League continues its dedication to evolving The Directors Project's umbrella of programs each year, expanding to serve artists in new ways, as the cultural landscape continues to transform post-pandemic. Financial stability, creative well-being, and guaranteed opportunities are core tenets of The Directors Project – which is now entering its 41st season, and whose illustrious alumni direct over 1,000 productions each season on Broadway, Off-Broadway, across North America, and beyond.

Applications for the Fellowship, Residency, Fund, and Assistantship programs are now available at dramaleague.org.

THE DRAMA LEAGUE advances the American theater by providing life-long artistic resources for directors and a platform for dialogue with audiences. Founded in 1916, it is one of the longest continuously running arts organizations in the country. We enable directors to make the most powerful, impactful storytelling possible across multiple mediums, while reaching audiences and building sustainable careers. Uplifting directors of all economic classes, races, abilities, genders and identities is a cornerstone of this mission. We provide support to directors throughout their artistic lives, while our work in education offers both continued learning to professionals and introduces the art of directing to young people. Underpinning our work is the support of our members, a community of ardent audience members and industry professionals whose commitment to advancing the art form helps develop the careers of the talented artists we champion. For more information, please visit www.dramaleague.org.

Irene Gandy, winner of the 2020 Tony Honors Excellence in Theatre Award, has recently been appointed to the Drama League Board of Directors. She is the only Black female press agent member of ATPAM (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers) for over 50 years. Working with Producer Jeffrey Richards for over 3 decades, she is a Tony-Award winning producer on Broadway for Purlie Victorious, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess and was a producer for Lady Day At Emerson Bar and Grill starring Audra MacDonald. She was also co-producer with Voza Rivers of the National Tour of the South African musical Sarafina.

In 2008, she became the first female press agent to be immortalized with a Sardi's caricature. A fashionista known for her furs, in 2015 she launched a signature collection featured in Vogue Magazine and will debut a Lady Irene Fur line in 2022. Gandy's recent productions include The Great Society, American Son, China Doll, Fiddler on the Roof, and You Can't Take It With You. Gandy began her career in 1968 as a publicist with Douglas Turner Ward and Robert Hooks' Negro Ensemble Company. Since then, she has worked on over 100 Broadway shows, including August Osage County, Glengarry Glen Ross, Radio Golf, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Lena Horne: The Lady, and her Music, and The Wiz.

In addition to her work in theatre, she was Associate Director of Special Markets for CBS Records, working with such artists as Earth, Wind and Fire, The Jacksons, and Labelle, and her personal music clients include Freddie Jackson and Nona Hendryx. Gandy is the Press Consultant for Harlem Week, recipient of the 1997 National Action Network's “Woman of Excellence Award,” the 2007 Vanguard Award from Black to Broadway Productions, the 2004 Black Public Relations Society Award, the 2013 “Inspire in New York” Award, 2015 Pioneer Award for BLACK PRIDE NYC, and the 2015 Café Mocha “Salute Her” Media Legend Award.

Other awards include "Project 1 Voice Lifetime Achievement" for outstanding achievements and vision to artistic excellence in the American Theater; 2017 HARLEM WEEK Vivian Robinson Arts & Culture Award; and "Life Changers" presented by WNBA players Teresa Weatherspoon and Rita Haywood for inspiring, transforming, and empowering others. In 2018, she was honored with Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO "Pioneer Award" for Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre. In 2019, she was honored with the NAACP-LGBTQ David Weaver Prize for Excellence in the Arts. In 2020, Gandy was inducted into New York Public Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library as part of The League of Professional Theatre Women's Oral History Project. Gandy currently serves on the boards of City College for the Arts, HARLEM WEEK, and New Heritage Theater.



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