2017 IT Awards Announce Four Honorary Award Recipients

2017 IT Awards Announce Four Honorary Award Recipients

On Monday, September 25, 2017, The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, the organization who for the past 13 years has been dedicated to celebrating Off-Off-Broadway, will present four honorary awards along side the 26 awards for outstanding achievement in theatre.

These awards include Caffé Cino Fellowship Award to Retro Productions, Ellen Stewart Award to Crystal Field (Theater for a New City), Artistic Achievement Award to Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, and Doric Willson Independent Playwright Award to J.Stephen Brantley.

These awards will be presented at the 13th Annual New York innovative Theatre Awards Ceremony, Gerald Lynch Theatre located in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York, NY 10019. If you are unable to attend, watch it live online at www.nyitawards.com/live. Tickets are $29.00 each and can be purchased at nyitawards.com/shop.

The Caffe Cino Fellowship Award, named in honor of the legendary Caffe Cino, is presented to an Off-Off-Broadway theatre company that consistently produces outstanding work. This award also includes a grant to be used toward an Off-Off-Broadway production. This year's recipient is Retro Productions, whose Producing Artist Director, Heather Cunningham said "Retro Productions winning the Caffé Cino Fellowship Award means the world to me as the founder of the company because the Cino exemplifies the best of what Off-Off-Broadway has to offer. To be told by our peers that we are one of the companies currently working in the community today who consistently provide audiences with exceptional work is the epitome of high praise and is incredibly thrilling."

The Ellen Stewart Award, named in honor of LaMaMa's Ellen Stewart, is presented to an individual or organization demonstrating a significant contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service, support and leadership. This year's award recognizes Crystal Field, Artistic Director of Theatre for the New City, who commented, "Off-Off-Broadway is the Breeding Ground of New American Theater. It is a place where new ideas, philosophies, political and social truths can form, grow and Flourish. As our new theater artists shed their blood in the service of Art, Off-Off-Broadway gives back to them, the nourishment they need, to continue in their pursuit to save our planet, sociologically, psychologically, and with total fulfillment of our sensibilities."

The Artistic Achievement Award is presented to an individual(s) who has made a significant artistic contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community. Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, founding members of Split Britches and WOW (Women's One World) Café are this year's recipients. They are both renowned international theatre artists and advocates who champion human rights and stage performances illuminating women's experiences with feminist and lesbian themes.

Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award, named in honor of playwright and activist Doric Wilson, is presented to a playwright whose work has been produced Off-Off-Broadway and embodies the daring spirit of Doric Wilson. J.Stephen Brantley, this year's recipients, feels "It's a tremendous honor to receive an award named after an artist as fearless and uncompromising as Doric Wilson. As someone driven to respond to the turbulence in our world at a time when it feels like the very right to do so is in jeopardy, I look to Doric's example of what theatre artists can do to excite and empower their communities. I'm so proud to play a small part in his legacy."


J.Stephen Brantley (Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award) is a playwright, performer, and producer based in New York City whose work includes Billy Baal, Blood Grass, Break, Furbelow, The Jamb, and Shiny Pair Of Complications. Theatre 167's production of his play Pirira was named Outstanding Premiere Production at the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Brantley has also written in collaboration with Theatre 167 on The Jackson Heights Trilogy plays and The Church Of Why Not. His Eightythree Down, winner of the Georgia Theatre Conference award, was nominated for six NYIT Awards and included in Indie Theatre Now's Best of 2011 collection. Brantley's acclaimed one-man autobiographical 'recovery cabaret' Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale Of Transformation played to audiences in New York, Dublin, Provincetown, and East Hampton. He is an eight-time NYIT nominee and a member of the Indie Theatre Hall Of Fame. Brantley's latest play The Emilies will be produced by Kid Brooklyn Productions this winter.

Crystal Field (Ellen Stewart Award) OBIE Award winning actress Crystal Field is co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater for the New City (TNC). Under her leadership TNC has produced over 1000 new plays which have garnered a Pulitzer Prize and over 43 OBIE Awards for excellence in every theatrical discipline. TNC has also nurtured the talents of Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Romulus Linney, Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Miguel Piñero, Charles Busch, Moises Kaufman, Vin Diesel, Adrien Brody, Eduardo Machado, Jean-Claude van Itallie and Tim Robbins. Ms. Field's staunch belief in the civic necessity of theater has manifested itself in the creation of several major New York City events such as the original Village Halloween Parade, the Annual Native American Pow-Wow and the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. Ms. Field is also the Director, Author and Choreographer of TNC's award-winning 5-Borough Annual Free Summer Street Theater Program, which tours an original musical with an integrated company of 50 through under-served neighborhoods of New York City. Under her Direction, TNC runs a Dream-up Festival each summer, giving voice to 23 New Premier Theater works. The unique multi-disciplinary format of TNC's Arts-in-Education Program was created by Ms. Field and continues today. Ms. Field was a member of the original Lincoln Center Company under the direction of Elia Kazan, Harold Clurman and Robert Whitehead. She was also a member of the Judson Poets Theater and Andre Gregory's Theater of the Living Arts. She won an OBIE Award for her performance in Arthur Sainer's DAY OLD BREAD. Other notable performances include her work in BIRDY, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, RADIO DAYS, LITTLE CHILDREN, LAW & ORDER and most recently, THE RAFT, with Ed Asner. Ms. Field was recently awarded the NY Post's Liberty Community Medal for her service to the Lower East Side.

Retro Productions (Caffé Cino Fellowship Award) is a New York City based Independent Theater Company going in to it's 13th year. Our mission, to present works of "retro" theater, focuses on plays which are rooted in the 20th century. Over the last 13 years we have presented 19 works, including the World Premieres of An Appeal to the Woman of the House by Christie Perfetti Williams; Women and War by Jack Hilton Cunningham (now published by Samuel French, Inc.); and 2018s upcoming premiere of Gina Femia's We are a Masterpiece. New York premieres have included Holy Days by Sally Nemeth; and Mrs. California by Doris Baizley. Our production of The Runner Stumbles by Milan Stitt was picked up for an off-Broadway extension by The Bleecker Company and the Arclight Theatre. Retro Productions has been nominated for a total of 26 New York Innovative Theatre Awards as of 2017, winning two (as of 2016). Critical acclaim has included a Backstage East "Performance to remember," Pick of the Week by OffOffOnline, Off Broadway Pick by New York Magazine, Backstage Critic's Pick, and of The Runner Stumbles off-Broadway, The New York Times said "quite an absorbing show... There is real excitement ... feverish with sexual tension and repressed anger."

Peggy Shaw (Artistic Achievement Award) is an actor, writer and producer. She co-founded the Split Britches Theater Company with Lois Weaver and the WOW Café Theatre in New York City. Peggy has also been a collaborator, writer, and performer with Spiderwoman Theater and Hot Peaches Theater. She played Billy Tipton in the American Place production of Carson Kreitzer's The Slow Drag. For her work with the company, Peggy has received 3 OBIE Awards for performances in Dress Suits To Hire, Belle Reprieve, and Menopausal Gentleman. She has also won the New York Foundation for the Arts Award for Emerging Forms in 1988, 1995, 1999, and 2005; the 1995 Anderson Foundation Stonewall Award for "excellence in making the world a better place for gays and lesbians;" and a 2003 Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre. The Foundation for Contemporary Performance recently awarded Peggy with Theatre Performer of the Year. Michigan Press has published a new book on Peggy, edited by Jill Dolan, which includes the scripts for her three solo shows You're Just Like My Father, Menopausal Gentleman and To My Chagrin, and will also include the script MUST: The Inside Story.

Lois Weaver (Artistic Achievement Award) lectures in Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London and is an independent performance artist, director, and activist. She was co- founder of Spiderwoman Theatre and the WOW Café Theatre in New York City and Artistic Director of Gay Sweatshop Theatre in London. Lois has been a performer, director, and writer with the Split Britches Company since 1980. Her interests include live art, solo performance, feminist and lesbian theatre and performance, and human rights. She was involved in Staging Human Rights, a People's Palace Project initiative that used performance-based practices to explore human rights in women's prisons in Brazil and the United Kingdom, which inspired an international conference and festival on the themes of performance and human rights for which Lois was the Artistic Director. Lois is currently Artistic Director of the Air Project, an Arts Council of England funded initiative that nurtures and sustains established Live Art practitioners and emerging artists in the UK. She was principal investigator on Democratising Technology, a research project that uses performance techniques to initiate conversations on technology design.

The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognizing the great work of New York City's Off-Off-Broadway, honoring its artistic heritage, and providing a meeting ground for this extensive and richly varied community. The organization advocates for Off-Off-Broadway and recognizes the unique and essential role it plays in contributing to American and global culture. They believe that publicly recognizing excellence in Off-Off-Broadway will expand audience awareness and foster greater appreciation of the New York Theatre experience. Go to www.nyitawards.com for more information.

Pictured: Liz Stanton, nominated for "The Woman Who Was Me".

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