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2012 Ivey Awards Recognize Rick Shiomi for Lifetime Achievement and Isabel Nelson for Emerging Artist


The Twin Cities theater community honored Rick Shiomi, Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and performer, director, and theatre creator Isabel Nelson with the Emerging Artist Award at the 8th annual Ivey Awards. The yearly celebration, held tonight, September 24, at the Historic State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis, honors and showcases the work of professional theater companies and artists over the past year.

Based on evaluations completed by the more than 150 volunteer theater evaluators who saw more than 1,000 performances in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area from September 2011 through August 2012, four productions and six individuals were also recognized with 2012 Iveys:

- The Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Walking Shadow Theatre Company: Overall Excellence
- Spring Awakening, Theatre Latte Da: Overall Excellence
- The Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, Illusion Theater: Emotional Impact
- Julius Caesar, Theatre Unbound: Inventive Reinterpretation

Individual Recognition
- Tracie Bennett, Acting, End of the Rainbow (Guthrie Theater)
- Hugh Kennedy, Acting, Buzzer (Pillsbury House Theatre)
- Jody Briskey, Acting, Beyond the Rainbow: Garland at Carnegie Hall (History Theatre)
- Barry Browning, Lighting Design, Dial M for Murder (Jungle Theater)
- Miriam Monasch, Directing, Our Class (Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company)
- Joe Vass, Musical Direction, The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer (Park Square Theatre)

The Iveys are unique among awards events in the country in that they are open to the public and that there are no nominees, set number of awards or pre-determined award categories, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement and the Emerging Artist Awards. The artists and organizations receiving special recognition are selected from evaluations completed by the general public and the volunteer theater evaluators. Each participating theater receives a vote to determine the Lifetime Achievement and Emerging Artist Awards.

RICK SHIOMI (Lifetime Achievement Award) is the founder and Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts, one of the largest Asian-American theater companies in the U.S. and a leader in the local and national development of Asian American theater and taiko. Founded in 1992, Mu is composed of Theater Mu, which offers stage performances, and Mu Daiko, a taiko drumming ensemble. Through Shiomi’s leadership, Mu has helped to develop and support the work of local and national playwrights, actors, directors, and musicians by premiering many new works, fostering a new generation of Asian American artists, and bringing Asian American voices to Twin Cities audiences. As a playwright, Shiomi has written a number of plays, including Mask Dance, The Tale of the Dancing Crane, The Hmong Tiger Tales, and The Walleye Kid, which he also adapted into a musical. Shiomi has been recognized with a 2002 Asian-Pacific Leadership Award for Excellence & Innovation in the Arts from the State of Minnesota Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans and the Sally Award for Vision in 2008.

ISABEL NELSON (Emerging Artist Award) recently co-created and appeared in the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit show Ash Land, produced by Transatlantic Love Affair, of which she is co-artistic director. With Transatlantic she also conceived and directed two previous Fringe hits, Red Resurrected and The Ballad of the Pale Fisherman, which was subsequently expanded and presented in Illusion Theater’s Lights Up series. As a performer, she has worked with Live Action Set, Jon Ferguson Theatre, and Four Humors, among others. Nelson’s directing credits include work with Black DIRT Theater and Macalester College. She graduated from Minneapolis South High, received her B.A. from Macalester College in Theatre and Religious Studies, and a certificate in Creating Theatre at the Lecoq-based London International School for Performing Arts.

Photo of Rick Shiomi by Lia Chang. Photo of Isabel Nelson provided by Transatlantic Love Affair.

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