In a virtual ceremony this evening, Wednesday, April 28, beginning at 6 pm, The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation will present the organization’s 2021 Idea Awards for Theatre. Founded by the bequest of the late theatrical agent Adams (who represented such luminaries as Phylicia Rashad, Judy Kaye, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sherman Helmsley, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Eve Arden, Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Marshall, Jayne Wyman, Andre DeShields, Kathy Bates, and Susan H. Schulman, among many others) and his partner Dr. Reisch (also a passionate theater-lover), the awards were created to encourage illuminating concepts in expansive idea-driven theater, while championing visionary playwrights with fresh perspectives and embracing diversity in all of its forms, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Honors in three categories are awarded annually by The Foundation to adventurous new voices in playwriting and musical theater, and to playwrights who have inspired and blazed trails before them. Nominations for all three awards are accepted exclusively from The Foundation’s Board of Artistic Advisors. This year, instead of naming one winner for each award, Vice President and Board Member Bruce Ostler explained that, “to address both the financial need throughout the theatre community, as well as the need for big, resonant stories, we are awarding nine artists across our three categories: new plays; new musicals; and distinguished career. We hope these nine writers, all of whom are diverse in form and in substance, will carry the torch back into the theatre and show us new ways of imagining.”
Hosted by Tony nominee Daniel J. Watts (Hamilton, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical), the free online presentation will feature the award recipients in conversation with industry leaders of their choice, including Obie-winning director Michael Greif, three-time Tony and Grammy-nominated actor David Alan Grier, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Keith Glover. In addition to the discussions, the winners in the category of musical theater will also perform songs.
Agyeiwaa Asante and Haruna Lee are the recipients of this year’s Ollie New Play Award. The 2021 Vivace Musical Theatre Awards will be awarded to Kirsten Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Bella: An American Tall Tale), the composer/lyricist team Jay Adana and Zeniba Now, and Troy Anthony. Recognizing original work with ambitious theatrical ideas, both awards are bestowed with a $30,000 prize, and each of the artists will also receive a unique hand-carved marble statuette.
The 2021 Tooth of Time Distinguished Career Awards, given with a $20,000 prize and a statuette for each recipient, will be presented to Jessica Hagedorn (Dog Eaters, Felix Starro), Cherríe Moraga (The Hungry Woman, Heroes and Saints), and OyamO (I Am a Man, The Resurrection of Lady Lester).
The presentation ceremony of the 2021 Idea Awards for Theatre streams at 6 pm, Wednesday, April 28, on the Awards YouTube channel. Viewing is free.