Flashpoint Theatre Company, Steve Pacek, and the late Jiri Zizka were the big winners of three of the Philadelphia theater community’s most prestigious awards for 2011-12. Carrying on the tradition of the Barrymore Awards (on hiatus for the 2012-13 season), Theatre Philadelphia–the new coalition designed to pick up where the former Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia left off–hosted its first big event at the Kimmel Center on October 22, to honor the recipients with a public celebration and to rally for the future.
Among the evening’s festivities were hilarious high-energy performances by 11th Hour Theatre Company, 1812 Productions’ Jennifer Childs (in her popular role as South Philly’s Patsy), and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret. The event also included an announcement about The Wolfson Award for Evolving Theater, which will be presented for the first time in 2013. Funded by longtime theater patrons June and Steve Wolfson, the new annual award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, will recognize, promote, and reward the creativity, growth, and excellence of evolving theaters (with budgets under $400,000) within the greater Philadelphia community.
This year’s Theatre Philadelphia Lifetime Achievement Award went to the late Jiri Zizka (1953-2012). Along with his ex-wife Blanka Zizka, who accepted the award with their son, Jiri played a seminal role in the growth of theater in Philadelphia. Born and educated in Prague, Zizka became an Artist-in-Residence with The Wilma Theater in 1979, its Co-Artistic Director in 1981, and then maintained a consulting relationship with the company beginning in 2010, after having directed over 70 productions there and elsewhere. Among his most notable successes at The Wilma was Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman of 2006, which garnered six Barrymore nominations.
The 2012 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist was presented to Lansdale native Steve Pacek, a six-time Barrymore Award nominee, three-time Haas nominee, and co-founder of 11th Hour Theatre Company, where he serves as Associate Artistic Director. Funded by Carole Haas Gravagno through The CHG Charitable Trust, the award comes with a $10,000 cash prize, and $1,000 for each of the finalists (actress Charlotte Ford; playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger; actor Justin Jain; and designer Thom Weaver). The only one of its kind in this country, the F. Otto Haas Award is intended to support the recipient’s living expenses, enabling its winners to focus on their craft, and to encourage them to remain in the Philadelphia community.
Flashpoint Theatre Company received The Brown Martin Philadelphia Award for its production of SLIP/SHOT by Philadelphia-based playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger, which also won this year’s Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play. Brown Martin honors plays that foster a better understanding of the unique experience of a particular segment of Philadelphia’s global community, including but not limited to perspectives based on gender, ethnicity, religion, age, and sexual orientation. Flashpoint’s Managing Director Marc Miller, Artistic Director Thom Weaver, and playwright Goldfinger accepted the award and its $25,000 cash prize on behalf of the company. Also nominated were People’s Light & Theatre Company for FALLOW by Kenneth Lin; The Wilma Theater for OUR CLASS by Tadeusz Slobodzianek; Society Hill Playhouse for BRANCH by Walt Vail; and Mauckingbird Theatre Company for THE TEMPERAMENTALS by Jon Marans.
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, and to Theatre Philadelphia for keeping the spirit and excitement of the arts and culture alive in our city!