Yesterday evening the New York Innovative Theater Award – recognize, honor and advocate for the individuals, businesses and productions of New York’s Off-Off-Broadway / Indie theater community over the past seventeen years – announced the recipients of the 2020-21 NYIT Honorary Awards. Due to the extended shutdown of theaters due to COVID-19 since March 2020, the nonprofit has been unable to celebrate shows in the usual way, with its full list of annual categories. But Co-Executive Directors Cat Parker, Akia Squitieri and Jazmyn Arroyo said, “We are happy to honor those who have contributed to the community over the years and, for the first time, those who have stepped up to help during the crises of our time – the pandemic and the fight against white supremacy – our champions of independent theater! “
In addition to the inaugural Independent Theater Champions Awards, this season’s honors include five established categories: the Caffe Cino Award, named after the legendary venue and presented to a company that regularly produces exceptional work; The Ellen Stewart Award, awarded in honor of the eponymous founder of LaMaMa to an individual or organization demonstrating a significant contribution through service, support and leadership; The Artistic Excellence Award, for artists who have made a significant artistic contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community; The Outstanding Director’s Award, honoring the vital link between artistic conception and practical implementation; and the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award, named in honor of playwright and activist Doric Wilson and recognizing a playwright whose off-off-broadway produced work embodies Wilson’s daring spirit.
The recipients are:
The Caffe Cino Prize: The parsnip boat – Launched in the spring of 2015, the podcast game company is reinventing the concept of the radio play by focusing specifically on by-product dramatic author stories that differ in form, content and plot, creating in-person communities. and digitally through live and audio events.
The Ellen Stewart Award: The Independent Theater Fund/Indie space – Born out of a deep-rooted connection to the independent theater community and frustration with the systemic inequalities that have kept it from thriving, service organizations provide responsive, transparent and equity-driven funding, real estate programs , professional development and defense of the rights of individual artists, theater companies and independent venues.
The price of artistic achievement: Penny Arcade/Steve zehentner – the artists’ diaristic and journalistic work examines the boundaries between experimental theater and long-course performance art with multi-layered soundtracks and live, pre-recorded videos designed to provide a “cultural critique to dance on!”
The prize for the best director: Rachel Avril – illustrating the professionalism and care given to her work, the freelance director is remarkable for responding elegantly to the needs of artists and producers.
The Doric Wilson Freelance Playwright Award: Chris weikel – a founding member of TOSOS (New York’s oldest and longest-running LGBTQ + theater company), the playwright creates a work of theatricality, magical realism, and decidedly eerie sensibility, while rejecting the current fixation with a single ensemble, six drama show.
The prizes of independent theater champions: Randi Berry – the independent theater maker, actor, writer, producer and executive director of the IndieSpace Fund and the Independent Theater Fund has taken on COVID head-on and joined the fight for racial equity education; Episcopal Guild of Actors – a non-denominational charity founded in 1923, whose mission is to provide emergency aid and support to professional performers of all faiths who are going through a crisis, has taken up the challenge of the last few months of the pandemic, working to help theater artists both fiscally and directly from their pantry; Ximena Garnica – co-founder of LEIMAY and co-creator of the Cultural Solidarity Fund with other community leaders, Garnica is working in tandem with arts organizations and funders to provide emergency grants to artists and cultural workers left behind by other forms of COVID-19 relief; JACKNY – Brooklyn-based performance-meets-civic space, which won the OBIE Award, presents more than 100 theater, music and dance performances per year and hosts community conversations on issues important to fighting discrimination racial and raising awareness; LatinX Playwright Circle – promoting, developing and uplifting LatinX playwrights nationwide, the group’s goal is to create a network that makes their plays accessible to theater makers looking for the next generation of American storytellers; and Aimee Todoroff – through his work as general manager of the Independent Theater League, the director, playwright and advocate has fought tirelessly for space, grants, security and political recognition on behalf of independent theater artists.
The NYIT Awards plan to celebrate the recipients in person and via a live broadcast on Sunday, November 14 from the Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4e St, New York. More information about the event will be available soon; for updates, visit website.