The evening honors Tony-nominated and OBIE-winning Eclipsed playwright and The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira; Tony-nominated and Olivier Award-winning theatrical producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey; and the Vilcek Foundation, led by Rick Kinsel.
Emceed by Law & Order: SVU and As the World Turns regular Tamara Tunie, attendees can expect performances from the upcoming Playwrights Horizons musical Bella: An American Tall Tale, featuring Ashley D. Kelley (a co-production with Dallas Theatre Center); and a number from Soho Rep’s Duat, featuring Jomama Jones.
“We're thrilled to honor both the visionary artistry and activism of Danai Gurira as well as the groundbreaking work of producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia M. Jones-Harvey,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG, in an earlier statement. “By bringing the voices of women from Liberia’s civil war to the Broadway stage through their acclaimed production of Eclipsed, they’ve reaffirmed theatre’s power to humanize and connect us across borders. The success of Eclipsed is also an example of TCG’s holistic approach to making a better world for theatre. A better world because of theatre. It was a TCG grant that supported the research and travel for the play; TCG Books will now keep it in print for many years to come and at our 2016 TCG National Conference in Washington DC, we featured U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power sharing the impact of plays like Eclipsed in her cultural diplomacy.
“We are also delighted to honor the Vilcek Foundation. Under the leadership of Rick Kinsel, and working closely with TCG, the Vilcek Foundation devoted its 2016 Vilcek Prizes in the Arts to identifying and supporting immigrants whose work will undoubtedly become part of the American canon: the Vilcek Prize was awarded to the revolutionary Blanka Zizka, artistic director of The Wilma Theater, and the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise were awarded to director Sarah Benson, director Desdemona Chiang, and lighting designer Yi Zhao.”
Gurira is a playwright and actress who received a 2016 Tony Award nomination for Best Play for Eclipsed. Her other plays, including Familiar, The Convert and In the Continuum, have earned her OBIE and Drama Desk Awards for playwriting.
Byrd and Jones-Harvey hold the distinction of being the only African-American lead producers on Broadway. Together they comprise Front Row Productions, which aims to bring a unique brand of diversity to Broadway and London’s West End, both onstage and off, evidenced by their Olivier-winning production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London’s West End (also on Broadway) starring James Earl Jones; and, most recently, by their acclaimed, five-time Tony-nominated production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o.
The Vilcek Foundation, led by Rick Kinsel, is dedicated to “raising awareness of immigrant contributions to the arts and sciences.” Based in New York City, the organization aims to “support immigrants from all over the world, working in a wide array of the arts.”
For more than 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, has existed to “strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre.”
The evening begins with cocktails at 6 PM followed by dinner and special performances at 7 PM. Guests have been asked to wear festive attire.
(Updated November 14, 2016)