The 27th Annual Joe A. Callaway Awards for direction and choreography Off-Broadway were presented October 24 by the Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) Foundation at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York. This year’s awards (for work in the 2015-2016 season) were presented to Sarah Benson for her direction of Futurity, produced by Soho Rep and Ars Nova; and to James Walski for his choreography of Trip of Love, at Stage 42.
Director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Joshua Bergasse (the creative team behind the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) hosted the ceremony, which featured performances by David Elder and Martyn Axe from Trip of Love; and Sammy Tunis, César Alvarez, and Eric Farber from Futurity.
The Joe A. Callaway Award recognizes excellence during the Off-Broadway theatre season from September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016, and is the only award given by professional directors and choreographers to their peers for work on a specific production.
At this year’s ceremony, SDC Foundation announced the winner of the new “Breakout Award.” The inaugural award went to Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. The Breakout Award is to be presented annually to an SDC Member for a production or selection of work that signals a shift in a career, the beginning of critical recognition in the Off-Broadway arena.
The Callaway Award was first presented in 1989, and past winners include Andy Blankenbuehler, Thomas Kail, Moisés Kaufman, Joe Mantello, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Giovanna Sardelli and Julie Taymor. This award is given annually and serves as a complement to the Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes a regional director changing the landscape of their community, and the “Mr. Abbott” Award, presented in recognition of lifetime achievement in theatre.
The 2015-2016 Callaway Committee Members were Sue Lawless (Chair), Jonathan Cerullo (Vice-Chair), William G. Martin Jr., Barry McNabb, Edie Cowan, John Going, Richard Hamburger, DJ Salisbury, Amy Saltz and Clinton Turner Davis.