The $5,000 award, given by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through imaginative, brave work in theatre. It will be presented Nov. 4 at a reception at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
Newell has directed more than 40 productions at Court Theatre since he began serving as artistic director in 1994. He has also directed at Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Chicago Opera Theatre and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, as well as California Shakespeare Festival, New York University, Glimmerglass and Juilliard.
Newell has also served on the Board of Theatre Communications Group and on panels for the NEA. He has been honored with four Jeff Director Awards, TCG's Alan Schneider Award and the Artistic Achievement Award from The League of Chicago Theatres.
"It's an honor to give this year's Zelda Fichandler Award to Charlie Newell," selection committee chairperson Chay Yew said in a statement. "His work in this region has been extraordinary and influential. Through his remarkable leadership, his brilliant direction, and his genuine dedication and desire to make a difference, he is continually changing the Chicago theatrical landscape. Always giving fresh interpretations to the classics and committing to cultural inclusion, he has opened our eyes of how to view the classics in context with contemporary America. His work has inspired us all — audience and artists alike."
"To receive The Zelda Fichandler Award from SDCF means the world to me," Newell stated. "My very first theatre-going memories are of my mother taking me to Zelda's Arena Stage. The daring theatre she created and produced, the singular artists she championed, the impact her art made on her community: these all have been a beacon of inspiration to me." Named after Zelda Fichandler, a founder of the American regional theatre movement, the award, which recognizes the impact of the founders of regional theatre and honors their legacy, is given annually within rotating regions of the United States.
Visit sdcweb.org/foundation/fichandler-award for more information.