CalShakes A.D. Moscone Wins Inaugural Zelda Fichandler Award

by Jacob Coakley


Zelda Fichandler Award
Zelda Fichandler Award

BERKELEY, CA—California Shakespeare Theater Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone has been named the inaugural recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), the not-for-profit foundation of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). The award, which carries with it a $5,000 cash prize, was presented on Sunday, December 6 at SDC’s 50th anniversary west coast celebration by Gordon Davidson, founding artistic director of Los Angeles’s Center Theatre Group.


“I am a little stunned and very honored to get this award. I am grateful to SDC for recognizing the work of those of us in the regional theatre, and I hope to do well by this award, and to live up to ideals of Zelda Fichandler as I continue my work at California Shakespeare Theater,” said Moscone.

Named after Zelda Fichandler, one of the founders of the American regional theatre movement, the Award recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through his singular creativity and artistry in theatre. It heralds both accomplishment to date and promise for the future, and artistic vision and deep investment in a region outside of New York. It was established as part of SDC’s current 50th anniversary season is SDCF’s first award devoted to regional theatre, where the majority of professional theatre directors and choreographers in the United States now work.

Jonathan Moscone will soon begin his 10th season as Artistic Director of California Shakespeare Theater where his work has earned him Bay Area Critics Circle and Dean Goodman Choice Awards for Best Direction and Production. His productions of Man and Superman, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Ghosts (Berkeley Rep), Twelfth Night, and The Seagull have all been named among the 10 best productions by the San Francisco Chronicle and other area newspapers. He recently directed Eurydice at Milwaukee Rep and the world premiere of Richard Nelson’s How Shakespeare Won the West for Huntington Theatre; other regional credits include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theater, Dallas Theatre Center, Goodspeed Musicals, Triangle Opera, Portland Stage Company, and Magic Theatre. Moscone is an adjunct faculty member at A.C.T.’s MFA program, the recipient of a Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation Fellowship, and currently serves on the board of LoveLife Foundation and on the advisory board of Redwood High School, both in Oakland. He has also served as a grant review panelist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Theater Communications Group and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Fichandler Award will serve as a complement to the “ Abbott” Award, presented annually in New York to recognize lifetime achievement, and the Joe A. Callaway Award, given for excellence in direction and choreography in non-Broadway productions in New York. The three awards are the only awards given to theatre directors and choreographers by their peers.

The Fichandler Award will be given regionally on a rotating basis. This year it was awarded to a director or choreographer who has made and who continues to make a significant contribution to theatre in the Western region (which comprises Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming). In subsequent years the Award will honor achievement in three other designated regions: Central, Eastern, and Southern.

Zelda Fichandler dedicated her early career to the establishment of America’s regional theatre movement. In 1950 she founded Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage and in 1968 she produced The Great White Hope, which became the first production to transfer from a regional theatre to Broadway, winning the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize, and launching the careers of James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. Her production of Inherit the Wind toured Soviet St. Petersburg and Moscow and Arena Stage was the first American theatre company sponsored by the State Department to do so. When Fichandler retired as producing artistic director of Arena Stage in 1990, she had achieved the longest tenure of any non-commercial producer in the annals of the American theatre. Fichandler is Chair Emeritus of New York University’s acclaimed graduate acting program. She has received the George Abbott Award, The Acting Company's John Houseman Award, the Margo Jones Award, and the National Medal of Arts, and in 1999 she became the first artistic leader outside of New York to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame.

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