League of Professional Theatre Women Awards Gala Recap
By: Lori Richardson
It was a night of celebration at the National Arts Club as the League of Professional Theatre Women awarded four recipients: Dorothy Olim, Tamilla Woodard, Caridad Svich, and Debra Ann Byrd. The League of Professional Theatre Women is a non-profit organization committed to promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in the professional theatre. Dorothy Olim was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to a woman who has given exemplary service to the theatre, presented by Harriet Slaughter. Dorothy and Harriet Slaughter founded BWAY (Better Wellness And You). Dorothy was gracious and humble in the delivery of her acceptance speech and she was thankful to be on this exciting and extraordinary journey because she feels passionate about equal rights for women in theatre.
Tamilla Woodard was the recipient of the Josephine Abady Award, an award honoring the memory of member Josephine Abady to an emerging director or producer of work of cultural diversity, presented by Cara Reichel. Tamilla was quite thankful and excited about her award. She equally impressed about being in the presence of a “community of fierce and fearless women.” Tamilla got her start in theatre at the Yale School of Drama of which she is a graduate. Her upcoming projects include a one hour Odyssey at the LaGuardia Arts Center and Necessary Targets, a play with Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda.
Caridad Svich was the recipient of the Lee Reynolds Award, given to a woman or women whose work in the theatre has illuminated the possibilities for social, cultural, or political change, presented by Randy Gener, the only male presenter for the evening. Caridad is a playwright-lyricist-translator and editor of Cuban-Spanish, Argentine-Croation descent. Also, Caridad is the founder of No Passport International Theatre Alliance and Press. During her acceptance speech she went on the say that her invitation was to herself to make her work a part of social and cultural implement and change. Caridad believes the job of a writer is to notice and observe the world and to see what isn’t there. Writing is an enchantment to her as well as a retreat from the world. She expressed passionate thanks for being on this journey of what it means to be human in this world.
Debra Ann Byrd was the recipient of the LPTW Lucille Lortel Award, a bequest from the Lucille Lortel estate to establish a fund which would annually provide a grant to an aspiring woman in any discipline of theatre who displays creative promise and deserves recognition and encouragement, presented by actress Jane White. Debra Ann received her award with joy and thanks. Her accomplishments include founder of Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc., where she currently serves as Chief Executive and Producing Artistic Director. She has guided this company’s growth from it’s birth, forging a viable support organization for classical artists of color and theatre groups throughout New York. In her acceptance speech Debra Ann thanked her children who are the wind beneath her wings, and her parents for nurturing her open mind and inclusion in the world of theatre. She was inspired by early classical black actors (Henrietta Vincent Davis to name one) who saw the downside of disadvantage but courageously pushed forth. She dedicated her award to Jack Carter, Jane White, and Gloria Foster and stated she was completed and inspired by everyone she has worked with and continues to work with, and most of all to her patrons.
The night ended with a raffle of two Carrie Robbins sketches and mingling while munching on deliciously catered pate, breads, cheeses, cupcakes from Crumbs bakery and wine. To learn more about these amazing, strong, and courageous women, visit their website www.TheatreWomen.org.