Host Of Monday's Innovative Theatre Awards Announced

Celebrate Off-Off Broadway with the Innovative Theatre Foundation, by joining them when they present the 2018 New York Innovative Theatre Awards on Monday, September 24, 2018. The ceremony will take place at the Centennial Memorial Theatre at 120 West 14th Street, NYC. Tickets to the ceremony are $29 each and can be purchased at www.nyitawards.com/shop.

The ceremony, which recognizes artists and leaders from NYC's Indie Theatre community, will be hosted by trans performer and writer Becca Blackwell; directed by 2014 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award recipient Kevin R. Free; with script contributions by writer, director, and performer Joey Rizzolo.

"I am so excited and so grateful to be directing the It Awards Ceremony this year! I can't think of a better way to jumpstart my year of making theater than watching some of my favorite theater makers celebrate what we do," said Director, Kevin R. Free.

Presenters for this year's ceremony include: Everett Quinton, Bill Solly, Dorothy Lyman, Charles Turner, and Moe Angelos, along with many other theatre luminaries.
The 2018 recipients will be awarded from a pool of nominees that include 157 individual artists, 53 different productions, and 52 different theatre companies. Nominated productions were seen on stages in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. To date, the IT Awards have honored over 2,500 artists, over 700 productions and over 650 companies.

The 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. www.nyitawards.com.

Becca Blackwell (Host) is a NYC based trans actor, performer and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun "they," Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D'Amour. Film/TV includes: Untitled Noah Baumbach Project, Shameless, Deadman's Barstool, and Jack in the Box. Becca is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award and writer/performer of They, Themself and Schmerm.

Kevin R. Free (Director) is the recipient of the 214 Doric A. Wilson Independent Playwright Award and former ensemble member of the Caffe Cino Award Recipient New York Neo-Futurists, Kevin R. Free is so proud to be this year's director of the NY It Awards Ceremony. Kevin is a multidisciplinary artist whose work as an actor, writer, director, and producer has been showcased and developed in many places, including the Moth Radio Hour; Project Y Theater; Flux Theater Ensemble; the Queerly Festival (of which he is now the curator), and The Fire This Time Festival, where he served as Producing Artistic Director for 5 years, winning an Obie for his work in 2015.
He has a longstanding collaboration with Indie Theater Artist Tracey Conyer Lee, whose solo play STANDING UP: Bathroom Talk and Other Stuff We Learn From Dad, and her full-lengths THE FIRST TIME and Rabbit Summer (formerly Waiting for Superman) he directed in both readings and workshops. He also is co-producer at MyCarl, a Production Company he created with Eevin Hartsough and Katie Rosin to produce socially relevant work of all kinds, including the award-winning webseries "Gemma & The Bear!", his award-winning play Night of the Living N-Word!!, and the upcoming webseries "BECKYS THROUGH HISTORY."

His upcoming work as a director includes The Fire This Time Festival Season 10 (January 2019, The Kraine Theatre); Topdog/Underdog (February 2019, University of Arkansas); and The Last Five Years (May 2019, Portland Stage).

As an actor, was the first African-American to play the role of Bellomy in The Fantasticks Off-Broadway. He just completed a run as Murray Stein in DAVE at Arena Stage, and will be seen on TV this fall on the Murphy Brown reboot. He will appear onstage in Target Margin's The Making of King Kong. An accomplished voice actor, Kevin has recorded over 300 audiobooks, and is the voice of Kevin from Desert Bluffs on the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale (which was created by Indie Theatre Artists, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor). Twitter: @kevinrfree www.kevinrfree.com
Joey Rizzolo (Writer) directs plays and musicals ranging from new work to Shakespeare, with a particular interest in politics and the stories of young people. As one of the early members of the New York Neo-Futurists, he created and developed new work for 12 years. As a political director with a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Joey often adopts an Epic approach to storytelling, identified by critic Christine Howey as a director of "restless imagination." He teaches acting and directing to children and adults alike.

With the Neo-Futurists, Joey served as a co-artistic director, education chair, and was responsible for the aggregation of new artists. He has written over 400 short plays and directed countless others for the Neo-Futurists' downtown East Village staple The Infinite Wrench, an ongoing, ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, and the Neo-Futurist lab series out of which new plays are born. Joey wrote and performed in the NY It award-winning performance art museum installation, Locker 4173b, and directed Yeauxlanda Kay's one-woman journey through world religion, Bible Study for Heathens. As a co-artistic director, he has taken part in the development of other full-length plays, such as Steve: A Docu-Musical, Laika Dog in Space, The Soup Show, the Drama Desk nominated The Human Symphony, and the Drama Desk nominated The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill.

While living in Ohio, Joey worked with Great Lakes Theater, the Black River Theater Company, and the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival following through on a commitment to provide free theater to under-served communities. Recently with OSTF, Joey directed Romeo and Juliet, The Cradle will Rock, and choreographed for Macbeth, Picnic, Bus Stop, Treasure Island, As You Like It, Henry IV Part One, and Hamlet.

As an MFA directing candidate at the New School in New York City, Joey is a trained EDI facilitator focusing on issues surrounding disability and allies. While earning his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, Joey was the recipient of the Nash Drama Award and the college's performing arts fellowship. He was taught by Tea Alagic, Steven Brown-Fried, Moises Kaufman, Lee Sunday Evans, Leigh Fondakowski, Susanna Gellert, David Chambers, William Cusick, and Paul Moser.
Joey Rizzolo is a husband, a father, and a disabilities advocate.

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