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Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Establishes Gordon Davidson Award

Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Establishes Gordon Davidson Award

Last night, at Los Angeles's annual Ovation Awards ceremony, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation announced the establishment of The Gordon Davidson Award, a new honor to be bestowed annually by SDCF to recognize a director or choreographer for lifetime achievement and distinguished service in the regional theatre nationally. SDCF President Sheldon Epps and SDC President Pam MacKinnon jointly announced the new recognition. The first Davidson Award will be announced in the latter half of June 2018, at an event still in development.

At the Ovations, Epps said, "Gordon had an unwavering passion for the theatre and its craft, for the art of storytelling, and for the artists who brought those stories to life, as well as an absolute and unyielding belief that the theatre was the supreme art form for exploring the big ideas of our time and the ideal way to build and create community.

MacKinnon said, "It is not an exaggeration or hyperbole to say that Gordon Davidson was the father of our modern theatre here in Los Angeles. Over a period of 40 years, he created theatre that became part of the very fabric of our great city."

Gordon Davidson (1933-2016) was the founding artistic director of Los Angeles's Mark Taper Forum, which he led from 1967 to 2005, as well as artistic director of the Ahmanson Theatre from 1989 to 2005. Under his leadership, numerous works were developed or made their premieres in Los Angeles, including Zoot Suit, Angels in America, The Shadow Box, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Jelly's Last Jam and Children of a Lesser God. The Taper received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1977, Davidson received the Tony as Best Director of a Play for Children of a Lesser God in 1980, and Davidson was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000. He began his career as a stage manager and briefly served as managing director for the Theatre Group at UCLA.

The recipients of the Davidson Award will be recommended by a committee of professional peers, selected by the SDCF Board of Trustees. The inaugural selection committee includes Epps, who, as artistic director of The Pasadena Playhouse, was inspired and supported by Davidson; Neel Keller, Associate Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles; Tom Moore, who was mentored by Davidson early in his career and who directed shows at the Taper, Ahmanson and on Broadway; Laura Penn, Executive Director of SDC, who as a LORT manager worked with Davidson on diversity initiatives and on numerous co-productions from 1997 to 2002, including House Arrest and Nickle and Dimed; Lisa Peterson, who served as Resident Director at the Mark Taper Forum from 1995 to 2005; Warner Shook, who directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Kentucky Cycle at the Taper as well as Davidson's final Taper production, Edward Albee's The Goat, and Chay Yew, an associate artist and founding director of the Asian Theatre Workshop at the Taper under Davidson.

Founded in 1965, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation exists to foster, promote, and develop the creativity and craft of stage directors and choreographers. SDC Foundation's mission is to create access to the field, to connect artists, and to honor the theatrical legacy of these artists. The centrality of the director's/choreographer's role in theatre and the impact that they have on other artists' careers-from playwrights to designers to actors-makes SDC Foundation's services essential to the theatre industry's health and continued vitality.

Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

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