Athol Fugard, Philip J. Smith, Eve Ensler Win Special Tony Awards

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06 Apr 2011

Philip J. Smith
Philip J. Smith
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Tony Awards Administration Committee has announced the recipients for the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, the Isabelle Stevenson Award and The Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. 

These awards will be presented at the 2011 Tony Awards, which will be held June 12 at the Beacon Theatre.

The Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre will be presented to playwright Athol Fugard and Philip J. Smith, Chairman of The Shubert Organization.

The recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award will be V-Day founder and artistic director, Eve Ensler. The Isabelle Stevenson Award "recognizes an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations, regardless of whether such organizations relate to the theatre," according to a press statement.

The Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre were established in 1990 and are awarded annually to "institutions, individuals and/or organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in theatre, but are not eligible in any of the established Tony Award categories."



This year’s Tony Honors will be presented to animal trainer Bill Berloni, The Drama Book Shop on West 40th Street in Manhattan, and Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts.

Tony nominations will be announced May 3. For more information visit www.TonyAwards.com.

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Detailed biographies about each of the honorees follow, courtesy of the Tony Awards.

Athol Fugard was born in 1932 in Middelburg, in the Karoo desert region of South Africa, and has battled to bring the stories of all South Africans to the world, even under apartheid.  Fugard has been working in the theatre as a playwright, director and actor since the mid-fifties in South Africa, England and the United States.  His plays include The Train Driver, No-Good Friday, Non-Gogo, Blood Knot, Hello and Goodbye, People Are Living There, Boesman and Lena, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, Dimetos, The Island, A Lesson From Aloes, "MASTER HAROLD"...and the boys, The Road to Mecca, A Place With the Pigs, My Children! My Africa!, Playland, Valley Song, The Captain's Tiger, Sorrows & Rejoicings, Exits and Entrances, Victory and Coming Home. He has been on stage in South Africa, London, Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres in the U.S. Film credits include "The Road to Mecca," "Gandhi," "The Killing Fields," "Meeting with Remarkable Men," "Marigolds in August," "Boesman and Lena and The Guest." He has written one novel, "Tsotsi," a film version of which was made in South Africa and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, as well as the Michael Powell Award and the Standard Life Audience Award at the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival, the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the Los Angeles AFI Film Festival.  Fugard is a playwright whose art has always spoken out against racism, and continues to be an active voice for freedom and equality. 

Philip J. Smith began his Shubert career more than 50 years ago as a box-office treasurer, steadily moving up the ranks to serve as President from 1996 – 2008 and is now the Chairman of the Shubert Organization.   The Shubert Organization has been in the forefront of the American Theatre since the beginning of the 20th century and directs the management and operation of 17 Broadway theatres in New York City, as well as theatres in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  Smith’s innovations during his career have included the computerization of all Shubert box offices and the development of Telecharge, the industry’s most successful system for purchasing tickets.   He sits on the Executive Committee of The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and is a member of the Labor Committee, as well as a member of the Tony Awards Administration Committee on behalf of the League. He is an active Board member for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Actor’s Fund, for which he is the first Vice President.   He is also a member of the Knights of Malta and the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. 

Eve Ensler is a playwright, performer and activist and the award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Ensler's newest work, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, was released February 2010 in book form by Random House and made The New York Times Best Seller list. A theatrical commercial tour will begin this summer in South Africa, moving to Paris and San Francisco, before moving to an Off-Broadway production. Ms. Ensler's experience performing The Vagina Monologues inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. She has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive. Today, V-Day is a global activist movement that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Ensler's award-winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2011, over 5,400 V-Day benefits took place, and to date, the V-Day movement has raised over $80 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, opened the revolutionary City of Joy community in the Democratic Republic of Congo, launched the Karama program in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. In the summer of 2010, Eve's newest play Here was filmed live by Sky Television in London, UK. Ensler's other plays include Necessary Targets, The Treatment and The Good Body, which she performed on Broadway, followed by a national tour. V-Day is a remarkable example of transforming theatrical success into an effort to truly change people’s lives internationally.

Bill Berloni’s career as an animal trainer began over 32 years ago, finding and training “Sandy” for the original Broadway production of Annie. His animals have been part of more than a dozen Broadway productions including The Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Legally Blonde, Camelot, Le Bête and Woman in White.   He has also trained animals for two dozen Off-Broadway shows and more than 100 regional productions.

For nearly a century The Drama Book Shop, on West 40th Street in Manhattan, has been an unwavering supporter of the theatre.  Generations of theatre lovers have browsed the store’s seemingly endless shelves, finding hard-to-locate manuscripts, new works from theatres in other countries, and just-published copies of hit plays. The book shop includes a small black box theatre which is continuously used to present new works and seminars for the theatre community at no cost.

Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts: Since 1986, the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts has worked to achieve a theatre, film and television industry that reflects American society; where each artist is considered on his/her individual merits; where the stories being told are drawn from diverse experiences; and where our individual humanity can be celebrated.  Towards this goal, the Alliance promotes diversity in programming and leadership, and balanced portrayals of persons of color and persons with disabilities.