Halberstam Wins SDCF's Fichandler Award


Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), the not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), announces that Michael Halberstam of Writers' Theatre is the recipient of the 2010 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theatre.  The award heralds accomplishment to date and promise for the future, artistic vision, and deep commitment to a region outside of New York.  It carries an unrestricTed Grant of $5000 to the individual recipient.
The award will be presented to Mr. Halberstam by David Cromer on Monday, October 18, at 6pm at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.  The evening will begin with a panel of Chicago directors, Seth Bockley, Timothy Douglas, Gary Griffin, Kimberly Senior, and Dennis Zacek, moderated by Sheldon Patinkin, discussing the Chicago stage-directing aesthetic and where it is headed in the 21st century.  The event is free and open to the public and will be captured for future podcast through SDCF's online programming series, "SDCF's Masters of the Stage," a collaboration with American Theatre Wing.  Reservations are encouraged and can be made by emailing Foundation@SDCweb.org.  For further information on the event, please visit SDCweb.org.
"I am more than humbled, completely and thrillingly surprised, and utterly grateful to SDCF.  Theatre is, of course, a completely collaborative art form and my work has only ever been as successful as the many actors, designers, artisans, technicians, staff members, volunteers and donors who have come together to support a particular vision.  Midwest regional theatre is simply bursting with enthusiasm for the art, significant talent and the entrepreneurial spirit.  But we owe our foundations to the visionary leadership of pioneers like Zelda Fichandler.  I am thoroughly in awe her legacy and I am honored to be chosen as representational of the kind of work she inspired." said Mr. Halberstam.
The Fichandler Selection Committee is comprised of professional directors and choreographers; this year's committee included Sheldon Epps, Wendy C. Goldberg, Sari Ketter, Tom Moore, Jessica Redish, Steve Scott, and Ed Stern.  Through this award, named after Zelda Fichandler, a founder of the American regional theatre movement, SDCF recognizes the profound impact of the founders of regional theatre and honors their legacy.  The award is given regionally on a rotating basis.  The award complements SDCF's "Mr. Abbott" Award, presented bi-annually in New York to recognize lifetime achievement, and the Joe A. Callaway Award, given annually for distinguished direction and choreography in non-Broadway productions in New York.  These three awards are the only awards given to theatre directors and choreographers by their peers.
Michael Halberstam is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Writers' Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois located on the North Shore of Chicago and now in its 19th season.  For his company he has directed Love & Lunacy, A Play on Words, Dear Master, Not About Heroes (starring Nicholas Pennell),  Diary of a Madman, My Own Stranger, Marriage & Bears,  Blake,  Memoir,  Private Lives,  Look Back in Anger, Candida, Fallen Angels, Nixon's Nixon, Spite for Spite, The Father, A Phoenix Too Frequent,  Rough Crossing, Crime and Punishment, Benefactors, The Doctor's Dilemma, Seagull, The Uneasy Chair, The Duchess of Malfi, Othello, The Savannah Disputation,  A Minister's Wife, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and most recently She Loves Me. Michael appeared in the Writers' Theatre productions Two by Shaw, Oscar Remembered, Damon, Ring & F. Scott, In the Heart of Winter, the title role in Richard II,  pInteracts, Loot and Misalliance.  Previously, he spent two years at The Stratford Festival in Ontario and performed in Timon of Athens, The Knight of the Burning Pestle (title role),  Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Macbeth.  Halberstam's other Chicago acting credentials include productions with Wisdom Bridge, Court Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  He spent two-and-a-half years teaching Shakespeare at The Theatre School at DePaul University.  Elsewhere he directed Pledge of Allegiance (American Theatre Company), The Gamester (Northlight Theatre), A Man for All Seasons (Peninsula Players Theatre),  Hamlet  (Illinois Shakespeare Festival), Candida (Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York City, NY) Ten Little Indians (Drury Lane Oakbrook), a highly acclaimed revival of Crime And Punishment, which Writers' Theatre produced Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatres in New York,  Enchanted April and State of the Union (Milwaukee Repertory Theater).  His forays into opera have included The Rape of Lucretia (Chicago Opera Theater), Francesca da Ramini featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and Le Freyschutz, a Berlioz adaptation of the Weber opera conducted by Christoph Eschenbach in its North American Premiere (Ravinia Festival).  Halberstam has received awards for excellence in theatre management and artistic achievement from The Chicago Drama League, The Arts & Business Council and the Chicago Lawyers for the Creative Arts.  Halberstam will be directing A Minister's Wife in New York as part Lincoln Center Theater's 2010/11 Season.
Zelda Fichandler dedicated her early career to the establishment of America's regional theatre movement.  In 1950 she founded Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage and in 1968 she produced The Great White Hope, which became the first production to transfer from a regional theatre to Broadway, winning the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, and launching the careers of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.  Her production of Inherit the Wind toured Soviet St. Petersburg and Moscow and Arena Stage was the first American theatre company sponsored by the State Department to do so.  Like many other regional theatres afterward, Arena Stage cultivated an evolving but resident company over the decades that included some of America's best actors:  Robert Prosky, Frances Sternhagen, George Grizzard, Philip Bosco, Ned Beatty, Roy Scheider, Robert Foxworth, Jane Alexander, James Earl Jones, Melinda Dillon, Dianne Wiest, Max Wright, Marilyn Caskey, Harriet Harris, and Tom Hewitt.  In 1975 it was the first regional theatre to be recognized by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League with the Regional Theatre Tony Award for outstanding achievement.  When Ms. Fichandler retired as producing artistic director of Arena Stage in 1990, she had achieved the longest tenure of any non-commercial producer in the annals of the American theater.  Ms. Fichandler is Chair Emeritus of New York University's acclaimed graduate acting program where she personally taught, guided, and inspired more than 500 acting students, including Marcia Gay Harden, Rainn Wilson, Billy Crudup, Debra Messing, Peter Krause, and Michael C. Hall.  She has received the George Abbott Award, The Acting Company's John Houseman Award, the Margo Jones Award, and the National Medal of Arts, and in 1999 she became the first artistic leader outside of New York to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.
Founded in 1965, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation exists to foster, promote and develop the creativity and craft of stage directors and choreographers.  SDCF's goals are to provide opportunities to practice the crafts of directing and choreography; to gather and disseminate craft and career information; to promote the profession to emerging talent; to provide opportunities for exchange of knowledge among directors and choreographers; and to increase the awareness of the value of directors' and choreographers' work.

Stage Directors and Choreographers Society is a national theatrical labor union whose mission is to foster a national community of professional stage Directors and Choreographers by protecting the rights, health and livelihoods of all of its members; to facilitate the exchange of ideas, information and opportunities, while educating the current and future generations about the role of Directors and Choreographers and providing effective administration, negotiations and contractual support.

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