Thursday, September 24, 2015

Julie Taymor to Be Honored with William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre

2015 Will Award recipient Julie Taymor

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

Shakespeare Theatre Company Will Host Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala on November 1

JM Zell Partners, Ltd. to be honored with Sidney Harman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts

The Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has chosen Julie Taymor as the 2015 recipient of the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre (Will Award), which recognizes artists who have made significant contributions to classical theatre in America. JM Zell Partners, Ltd. will receive the Sidney Harman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts. The awards will be presented at the Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala on Sunday, November 1, 2015, hosted by STC at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street, NW) and the National Building Museum (440 G Street, NW.)

“We are delighted to celebrate Julie Taymor’s bold, visionary work for the stage and screen that has brought classical work to new audiences and strengthened appreciation of what makes Shakespeare’s creations timeless,” says STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn.

“It is especially meaningful that Julie, the first female Will Award recipient honored for directing, will be with us in Washington during the citywide Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Her creative voice is so strong, and inspirational to so many.”

Taymor’s prolific directing career has yielded iconic versions of works for theatre, opera and film. She has been praised by critics and audiences alike for her ambitious and imaginative interpretations of works such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Helen Mirren and Titus with Anthony Hopkins, the Beatles-inspired musical Across the Universe, and Broadway’s The Lion King, now with eight productions worldwide.

Taymor’s awards include direction and design Tony Awards for The Lion King, an Emmy Award for Oedipus Rex, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two Obie Awards.

The Will Award is an annual honor presented by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Past recipients include Sir John Hurt, Stacy Keach, Dame Diana Rigg, Elizabeth McGovern, Annette Bening, Sir Ian McKellen, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Dame Judi Dench, Fiona Shaw, Ralph Fiennes, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sam Waterston, Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christopher Plummer, Kevin Kline, the late Joseph Papp, and STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn.

The Sidney Harman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts honors those whose generosity has made a significant impact on the performing arts in our nation’s capital. This year the award will be presented to JM Zell Partners, Ltd. Accepting the award will be Chief Executive Officer and President Jeffrey M. Zell, and STC Trustee and JM Zell Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Scott Kaufmann.

Philanthropy is a core value at JM Zell. As a company, they support many local and national causes, focusing their efforts on issues ranging from arts and culture to education, health and Holocaust remembrance. JM Zell has been a significant and generous supporter of STC’s programs for over a decade. Their loyal support has been essential in creating the quality productions on the stages of the Harman Center for the Arts as well as many education and community engagement programs. JM Zell has also been an enormous asset in the process of creating the Bard, the innovative mixed-use studio, office, and residential development that will consolidate STC’s production facilities, rehearsal spaces, company housing, and administrative operations.

Gala Leadership for 2015 consists of Nick and Marla Allard, Anita Antenucci, Jerry and Isabel Jasinowski, Abbe David Lowell and Molly A. Meegan, and Melissa Moss and Jonathan Silver. Serving on this year’s Gala Committee are Stephen Allis, Stefanie Erkiletian, Miguel and Patricia Estrada, Meg and John Hauge, Kevin and Stephani Kolevar, Pauline Schneider, Stephen and Lisa Ryan, Tom and Cathie Woteki, and Suzanne and Glenn Youngkin.

The black-tie event, themed “Imagine: Shakespeare,” will begin at 6 PM at Sidney Harman Hall with the Gala performance, directed by STC Associate Artistic Director Alan Paul, followed by dinner and dancing at the National Building Museum.

The Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala benefits the many artistic and community engagement programs of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. STC Education programming serves more than 20,000 children and adults each season through comprehensive school, training, community access and audience enrichment programs that make Shakespeare and classical theatre exciting and accessible both on and off the stage. The centerpiece is the annual Free For All, which presents one of Shakespeare’s classic plays free of charge to the general public, reaching more than 665,000 D.C. residents and visitors since its launch in 1991.

Individual tickets and tables to the Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala range from $750 to $50,000. For further information, please contact Special Events Manager Moriah Lemming at (202) 547-3230 ext. 2330 or

Julie Taymor, winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and for Best Costumes for The Lion King, made her Broadway debut in 1996 with Juan Darién: A Carnival Mask (Lincoln Center), nominated for five Tonys. Other theatre work includes The Green Bird (New Victory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse and Cort Theatre on Broadway); Titus Andronicus, The Tempest and The Taming of the Shrew (Theatre for a New Audience); co-adaptor and director of The Transposed Heads (Lincoln Center and American Music Theater Festival); Liberty’s Taken (Castle Hill Festival); and designer and choreographer of The King Stag (American Repertory Theater).

Taymor’s opera direction credits include Grendel (L.A. Opera and Lincoln Center Festival), The Magic Flute (Maggio Musicale, Florence), Oedipus Rex (Saito Kinen Festival, Japan), Salomé (Kirov Opera), and The Flying Dutchman (L.A. Opera). Her film works include Titus (1999), the Oscar-winning Frida (2002), Across the Universe (2006), The Tempest (2010) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014).

A major retrospective of Taymor’s career has been featured at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Field Museum of Natural History. Costumes from The Lion King are in the collections of the Smithsonian and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has become one of the nation’s leading theatre companies. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Managing Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation’s premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company’s artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to present theatre of scope and size in an imaginative, skillful and accessible American style that honors the playwrights’ language and intentions while viewing their work through a 21st-century lens.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and acting classes to discussion series as well as accessible programs like the annual Free For All, one of STC’s most beloved annual traditions, allowing audiences to experience Shakespeare at no charge.

Located in our nation’s capital, STC performs in two theatres, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C., creating a dynamic, cultural hub of activity that showcases STC as well as outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. STC moved into the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in March 1992, after six years in residency in the Folger Library’s Elizabethan theatre. At that time the Penn Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many; since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization. The 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall opened in October 2007.