Gurira was recognized for her performance as Isabella in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure presented by the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. Smith received the award for his performance as Dog in the Red Bull Theater production of The Witch of Edmonton.
Gurira has also appeared on Broadway in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; Off-Broadway she appeared in, and was co-creator of, In the Continuum. Smith’s Broadway credits include The Green Bird (Tony nomination), The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring ‘Round the Moon, Getting and Spending and several years as Scar in The Lion King.
The award was established by Equity member Joe A. Callaway to "encourage participation in the classics and non-profit theatre and honors the best performance in a professional production of a classic play (one written prior to 1920) in the New York metropolitan area." It includes a $1,000 check plus an engraved plaque for each recipient, which will be presented at Equity’s Eastern Regional Membership Meeting Jan. 6, 2012.
The judges panel included Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News; Adam Feldman, Time Out NY; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, Back Stage.