The Burry Fredrik Foundation Marks 10 Years Of Support For Connecticut's Non-Profit Professional Producing Theaters

Over $3 million granted from 2012 through 2021 toward the growth and health of Connecticut theaters, with $500,000 to be awarded in 2022.

By: Mar. 31, 2022

The Burry Fredrik Foundation Marks 10 Years Of Support For Connecticut's Non-Profit Professional Producing Theaters

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Burry Fredrik Foundation championing the growth and continuing health of Connecticut's non-profit professional producing theaters. Since 2012, the Foundation has granted over $3 million to a dozen Connecticut theaters with a proven track record of accomplishments. In 2022, $500,000 will be awarded. The Foundation was established by Burry Fredrik (1925-2012), a Tony Award-winning producer and noted director, who lived in Weston, CT.

"Anyone who had the honor of knowing the late Burry Fredrik knew of her great love for the theater," said Barbara L. Pearce, Foundation chair. "She lived a fascinating life, often in the forefront of theater history. Burry lives on through the impact of her eponymous foundation on the professional theaters of Connecticut."

Connecticut theaters that have received funds from the Burry Fredrik Foundation include: A Contemporary Theatre of CT (Ridgefield), Collective Consciousness Theatre (New Haven), Goodspeed Musicals (East Haddam), Hartford Stage, The Legacy Theatre (Branford), Long Wharf Theatre (New Haven), Music Theatre of Connecticut (Norwalk), Eugene O'Neill Theater Center (Waterford), Theater Works Hartford, Thrown Stone (Ridgefield), Westport Country Playhouse, and Yale Repertory Theatre (New Haven). An emphasis is placed on supporting theaters working with playwrights and composers who are actively developing and producing new works.

Music Theater of Connecticut's executive artistic director Kevin Connors acknowledged that the Foundation "embraces the value of artistic accessibility and creative risk-taking, and is thoroughly committed to supporting new and re-imagined works."

Some of the theater projects that the Foundation has helped make possible during the past decade include the Playwright's Conference at the Eugene O'Neil Theater Center, the 2021 Script in Hand Series at Westport Country Playhouse, and the Festival of New Musicals at Goodspeed.

Donna Lynn Hilton, Goodspeed Musicals' artistic director, emphasized that the Foundation's support "is nothing short of remarkable, allowing us to present to the world powerful new musicals like 'Come From Away' and 'Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical'."

Through its Burry Fredrik Design Fellowship, established in 2017, the Foundation helps launch the careers of design talent from the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University. Each year, one graduating scenic, costume, lighting, projection, or sound designer selected as the Burry Fredrik Design Fellow receives a $25,000 award. In addition, if the Fellow is hired as a designer at any professional theater in Connecticut in the two years following the award, the Foundation will make a grant to that theater in an amount equal to the fee paid to the designer.

This year's Burry Fredrik Design Fellowship recipient is Camilla Tassi, a projection/video designer, producer, and musician from Florence, Italy, who is pursuing an MFA in projection design at Yale. Her design credits include "Fun Home" at David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, "Fires in the Mirror" at Baltimore Center Stage and Long Wharf Theatre, and "The Fall of the House of Usher" at Mass MoCA.

The inaugural Burry Fredrik Design Fellow in 2017 was set designer Claire DeLiso (, followed by sound designer Frederick Kennedy in 2018 (, scenic designer Stephanie Osin Cohen in 2019 (, and lighting designer Evan C. Anderson in 2020 (

Burry Fredrik was a trailblazing Broadway producer, director, and stage manager at the forefront of American theater history and in the vanguard for the changing role of women in the theater. At a time when women rarely held such positions, she made her Broadway debut stage managing "The Relapse" in 1950. Fredrik went on to production stage manage such notable shows as the world premieres of "Inherit the Wind," Jerry Herman's first book musical "Milk and Honey," and two collaborations between playwright William Inge and director Elia Kazan, "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs," and "Loss of Roses," the latter starring a young Warren Beatty.

Fredrik received her first Tony nomination for co-producing the revival of G.B. Shaw's "Too True to Be Good," starring Lillian Gish, Eileen Heckart, Cyril Ritchard, and Glynis Johns. Other landmark productions include the 1975 revival of "The Royal Family" with Rosemary Harris, "An Almost Perfect Person," and "To Grandmother's House We Go," which starred Kim Hunter and Eva Le Gallienne. Off-Broadway, her productions included "Exiles," "Catholic School Girls," which she also directed, and Sam Shepard's "Buried Child," which won the Pulitzer Prize. Fredrik won a Tony Award for co-producing Tom Stoppard's "Travesties."

As a director, Fredrik made her Broadway debut with the short-lived musical "Wild and Wonderful." She would go on to garner praise as a director in prominent regional theaters with productions of "Talley's Folly," "To Grandmother's House We Go," "Morning's at Seven," "'Night, Mother," and "Speed-the-Plow," all of which were performed at Westport Country Playhouse, among other theaters, and she directed noted productions of new plays at the Lucille Lortel White Barn Theatre. Fredrik was a founding board member and later artistic director of the Boston Post Road Stage Company (later known as Fairfield County Stage Company), and an active member of the Theatre Artists Workshop in Westport.. She served on the board of both Westport Country Playhouse and Long Wharf Theatre.

Prior to her death in 2012, Fredrik said of her active theatrical career spanning over five decades, "To the extent of my capabilities, I should like to give back to the theatre in return for a lifetime of taking."

The Burry Fredrik Foundation was funded and established by the Estate of Erna Helene Gerber, better known by her professional name Burry Fredrik.

Cynthia Rider, Hartford Stage's managing director, summed up the Foundation's significance for Connecticut theaters, saying, "The Burry Fredrik Foundation understands what it takes to operate and maintain a professional regional theatre and the impact that it can have on its community, region, and state."

Grant applications are by invitation only and are open to professional producing theaters operating in the state of Connecticut.