Veteran Broadway actor Jason Robards will be the first recipient of the new Annual Pell Award for Excellence In The Arts. The Jan. 9, 1997 award and event, chaired by Suzanne & Terrence Murray, Claire & Vartan Gregorian, and Rhode Island's Trinity Repertory Theatre, honors "outstanding artists for their artistic achievement while paying tribute to Senator Claiborne Pell for his exemplary support of the arts."
Five other artists will receive the 1996 award: poet laureate Michael Harper, artistic director of the Everett Dance Theatre, Dorothy Jungels; classical pianist Judith Lynn Stillman; glass sculptor Howard Ben Tre'; and sculptor/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg.
Special performances and an elegant dinner will await celebrities expected to attend the Westin Hotel gala, including Tony Kushner, JoBeth Williams, Jose' Quintero, and Senator John Chafee.
Senator Pell was the main sponsor of the 1965 landmark legislation establishing the National Endowment For The Arts and Humanities. He has also served a four year term on the board of Trinity Repertory Company.
"Senator Pell's outstanding dedication to higher education and the arts is an inspiration to all his constituents," said Gregorian, President of Brown University, who called the event, "an annual opportunity to acknowledge artistic talent in our home state." Jason Robards' lifetime achievement award will reward such performances as his 1956 Hickey in The Iceman Cometh (for which he won the very first Obie Award), and his Tony-winning work in The Disenchanted. Robards' last New York appearance was in Harold Pinter's Moonlight at the Laura Pels Theatre. Robards' last Trinity Rep appearance was in Hughie in 1993 - recently a hit for Al Pacino at Broadway's Circle In The Square.
An O'Neill specialist, Robards also starred in Long Day's Journey Into Night, A Moon for the Misbegotten, A Touch of the Poet, and Ah, Wilderness!. His other Broadway appearances include Stalag 17, The Chase, Big Fish, Little Fish, Toys in the Attic, The Devils, We Bombed in New Haven, A Thousand Clowns, The Country Girl, You Can't Take It With You, After the Fall, A Month of Sundays, Love Letters, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard and No Man's Land.
In other Trinity Rep News, the theatre company just received a $150,000 grant from the New York Community Trust to be used for general support. Artistic director Oskar Eustis thanked the administrators of the trust (Liz and Kim Chace, of the Mary P. Oenslager Foundation Fund), saying, "It's particularly sweet to receive support from this extraordinary theatrical legacy." Eustis was referring to fund namesake Donald Oenslager, who influenced an entire generation of set designers during his tenure at Yale.
For tickets to the Pell Event ($250-$500), call (401) 521-1100. For information about what's playing at Trinity Rep, please refer to Trinity Rep's regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By David Lefkowitz