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Danai Gurira, Stephen C. Byrd & Alia Jones-Harvey To Be Honored At TCG Gala

Broadway Black

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Tony Award nominated Eclipsed playwright and “The Walking Dead” star, Danai Gurira, along with our favorite Broadway producers, Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones Harvey and the Vlcek Foundation/Rick Kinsel will be honored at this year’s Theatre Communications Group Gala. These trailblazers will be honored Monday, November 14 at the Edison Ballroom in NYC.

“We’re thrilled to honor both the visionary artistry and activism of Danai Gurira as well as the groundbreaking work of producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia M. Jones-Harvey,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “By bringing the voices of women from Liberia’s civil war to the Broadway stage through their acclaimed production of Eclipsed, they’ve reaffirmed theatre’s power to humanize and connect us across borders. The success of Eclipsed is also an example of TCG’s holistic approach to making a better world for—and because of—theatre. It was a TCG grant that supported the research and travel for the play; TCG Books will now keep it in print for many years to come and at our 2016 TCG National Conference in Washington DC, we featured U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power sharing the impact of plays like Eclipsed in her cultural diplomacy.

We are also delighted to have the opportunity to honor The Vilcek Foundation and its executive director Rick Kinsel. The Foundation provides annual prizes and awards to foreign- born practitioners in biomedical sciences and the arts. The arts focus for 2016 was theatre, and we were proud to see Blanka Zizka receive the Vilcek Prize in Theatre. Sarah Benson, Desdemona Chiang, and Yi Zhou each received Creative Promise Awards.”

Gurira recently received her first Tony Award nomination in 2016 for Best Play for her play Eclipsed. Featuring an all black female cast, Eclipsed was the first of its kind to ever hit Broadway. It also scored Tony nominations for Best Direction of a Play, Liesl Tommy, and Best Featured Actress in a Play, Saycon Sengbloh and Pascale Armand.

Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey hold the distinction of being the only African-American lead producers on Broadway.  Together they comprise Front Row Productions, which aims to bring a unique brand of diversity to Broadway and London’s West End, both onstage and off, evidenced by their Olivier-winning production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London’s West End (also on Broadway) starring James Earl Jones; and most recently by their acclaimed, 5-times Tony-nominated production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o.  On Broadway, Byrd and Jones-Harvey are also responsible for multi-racial productions of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Blair Underwood and Daphne Rubin-Vega; Romeo & Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad; and The Trip to Bountiful which featured Cicely Tyson in a Tony-winning performance.

The Gala also offers an opportunity for the TCG community to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and raise support for TCG’s wide-ranging programs and services. Highlights from the past year include: a National Conference in Washington, DC that brought over 200 theatre practitioners to Capitol Hill for meetings with legislators; the awarding of $1.184 million in Audience (R)Evolution Cohort Grants to innovative audience engagement projects; and the publication of significant work by emerging playwrights like Stephen Karam’s The Humans, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, and Annie Baker’s John. In the spirit of the Gala honorees’ commitment to diversity and international activism, TCG is especially excited to celebrate the launch of the Global Theater Initiative, a partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics; and the groundbreaking meeting of the inaugural and second cohorts of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute at the National Endowment for the Arts.
Past honorees at the TCG annual gala—now in its fifth year—include Tony®, SAG and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy; Tony winning director Kenny Leon,  Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Ming Cho Lee, Jules Fisher, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation,The Shubert Foundation, Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Judith O. Rubin.
The evening will begin with cocktails at 6:00 followed by dinner and special performances at 7:00. Guests have been asked to wear festive attire.

For more information please contact: 212.609.5931, gala@tcg.org or visit www.tcg.org.

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Award Nominations

Cynthia Erivo Nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award

Drew Shade

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Cynthia Erivo at Opening Night of the Color Purple. Photo by Drew Shade

Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, known for her transformative performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple is now one of five actors nominated for the British Academy of Film’s 2019 Rising Star Awards.

Most recently seen alongside Viola Davis in Steve McQueen’s Widows, Erivo says:

“I’m ever grateful to BAFTA and the jury panel for nominating me for the 2019 EE Rising Star Award. It means the world to me to be acknowledged by the community that, for most of my life, I’ve known as home. Thank you for this incredible honour.” – Cynthia Erivo

The BAFTA Awards will take place on February 10th.

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Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech

Jerrica White

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billy porter

So, I have a question.

In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?

Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.

The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.

He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”

Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.

Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.

The days of shut up and sing are over.

Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:

Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!

Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.

From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.

Amen.

Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.

If that’s not the truth.

Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.

Resist.

RESIST.

RESIST.

RESIST.

For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.

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