There are few mediums that put life on stage, upfront and personal as does theatre. It’s a venue that allows life to play out wherein both the actor and the audience get to experience the multi-dimensional scope of life, past and present; staged, directed, written, lighted, costumed, produced, set to music, choreographed, costumed and even scored.
Black theatre has a special dynamics and flavor wherein enormous talents come together in all the varied genres to present life at its finest and sometimes at its very worse. It’s exciting, dynamic, memorable and always magical.
Every year the people get the opportunity to thank these great performers and recall the performances through the enormous efforts of those behind the AUDELCO Awards, such as Grace Jones, president of AUDELCO, and of course, AUDELCO’s founder, Vivian Robinson, who although no longer with us in body, remained in spirit at the 39th Annual AUDELCO “VIV” Awards, given in recognition of Black Excellence in Theatre.
The AUDELCO Award ceremony was presented Monday night, Nov. 14, at Harlem Stages within Aaron Davis Hall, located at the Marion Anderson Theatre, on 133th Street and Convent Avenue in New York City.
The show co-chaired by Cheryl Wills of NY1 News and Daniel Simmons, Jr., founder and President of Rush Arts Gallery, was nothing short of spectacular, albeit lengthy.
The Nov. 14 production included categories and awards which covered Ensemble performances, playwright, director in a dramatic production, musical category for female and male; lighting design, director in a musical production, solo performance, outstanding musical director, director in a dramatic production, lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor and actress, set design, choreography and costume design.
Also presented were the Outstanding Pioneer Award, Special Achievement Award, and since the theme was GENERATIONS, it was only fitting that 11-year-old Eden Sanaa Duncan Smith, best known for her role as Nala in Disney’s “Lion King,” in “Fences” and as a youth radio host on the Aunt Jewel’s Bedtime Stories show on Blakeradio.com, Rainbow Soul, be awarded with AUDELCO’s Rising Star Award.
Best Dramatic Play – “Knock Me A Kiss.”
Lead Actor – Andre DeShields – Knock Me A Kiss
Lead Actress – tied with Kimberlee Monroe – Nobody Knew Where They Was and Sanaa Latham – By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
Supporting Actress – Marie Thomas – Knock Me A Kiss
Supporting Actor – Andre Holland – The Whipping Man
Outstanding Performance (Male) – Tommi Thompson – The Widow and Miss Mamie
Outstanding Performance (Female) – Toni Seawright – The Widow and Miss Mamie
Outstanding Musical Director – Ron Granger – The Widow and Miss Mamie
Solo Performance – Stephanie Berry – The Shaneequa Chronicles
Playwright: Charles Smith – Knock Me A Kiss
Director (Dramatic) – Chuck Smith – Knock Me A Kiss (Presenters had an amusing moment trying to find the winner envelope)
Director (Musical) Production: Lee Kirk (The Widow and Miss Mamie).
Lighting: Shirley Prendergast for Knock Me A Kiss
Set Design – Anthony Davidson – Knock Me A Kiss
Choreography – Tracy Jack – It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues
Costumes – Ali Turns “Knock Me A Kiss”
Outstanding Ensemble Performance – Playing with Heiner Mueller
Production of the Year: The Widow and Miss Mamie tied with Ain’t Nothing But the Blues.
Recipient of the Board of Director’s Award – Rome Neal, Jackie Jeffries, Jacquetta L. McMurray
Outstanding Pioneer Awards went to Felix E. Cochren, Mary Alice Smith, James Pringle
Special Achievement Awards: Clifford B. Simmons (Blue Nile Passage), Journalist, Playwright and Director Hazel Rosetta Smith, Fortune Society and the Significant Elders group.
Honorary chairs for the 39th Annual AUDELCO Awards were LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Hattie Winston and Harold Wheeler.