The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has named The Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis the recipient of the inaugural Gordon Davidson Award, recognizing lifetime achievement in regional theatre. The new award will be bestowed annually by SDCF to a director or choreographer, with the first-ever presentation to take place September 22 at the Center Theatre Group.
“I may be sitting in Joe Papp's chair, but Gordon Davidson taught me most of what I know about artistic direction,” said Eustis, who served as associate artistic director under Davidson at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum from 1989 to 1994. “He was a giant in our field, deeply convinced that art not only went together with social justice, but that art was social justice. His belief in a theater that both supported artistic freedom and innovation and had a place at the table in debating the great issues of our time sustains me daily. I loved him; I learned from him; I am more honored than words can say to receive an award with his name on it.”
Davidson, who passed away in 2016, was the founding artistic director of the Tony-winning Mark Taper Forum, which he led from 1967 to 2005, as well as artistic director of the Ahmanson Theatre from 1989 to 2005. Under his leadership, numerous works were developed or received their L.A. debuts, including Zoot Suit and Angels in America. His productions of The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, The Shadow Box, and Children of a Lesser God transferred to Broadway, earning him a Tony Award and two nominations for directing. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000.
“It is so fitting for Oskar to be the first recipient of this award given his dedication to the same goals and ideals that Gordon effectively used to build theatres and communities for many years," said SDCF President Sheldon Epps. "Oskar has also done this with equal brilliance. He continues that noble mission now and I suspect that he will well into the future.”
Eustis has served as the artistic director of The Public Theater since 2005, prior to which he was at the helm of Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island. In the last three years, he has produced two Tony Award-winning Best Musicals (Fun Home and Hamilton), and back-to-back winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Hamilton and Sweat.