TCG Announces National Conference Award Winners

by Michael Eddy

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, has announced the award winners to be presented during the 27th TCG National Conference: Full Circle in Portland, Oregon, happening this week.

The Awards that will be presented at Full Circle, include:

“Our 27th National Conference’s theme of Full Circle lives in the generosity of spirit embodied by these awardees,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “They are renowned mentors and educators, collectives and funders, all forging a more equitable and sustainable future for our theatre field. We’re thrilled to honor their legacies and visions in Portland, OR, amid our ever-growing circle of theatre people.”

TCG’s 2017 National Conference in Portland, OR from June 8-10 is called Full Circle, a theme that draws inspiration from Portland’s central role in the “Maker” culture—a network of artisans and hackers dismantling industrialized systems through a return to a more local, human scale. Programming highlights include: plenary speakers like Jeff Chang, Anand Giridharadas, Cheryl Strayed, and UNIVERSES; Maker Day Field Trips bringing attendees to artisans and entrepreneurs involved in this hyper-local and collaborative economy; a meeting of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and workshops led by artists and thought leaders from the theatre field and beyond, including: Brad Carlin, Amanda Delheimer Dimond, Catherine D'Ignazio, Carra Martinez, Robert Schenkkan, and Elizabeth Streb.


The Peter Zeisler Memorial Award recognizes an individual or organization whose work reflects and promotes the ingenuity and artistic integrity that Peter Zeisler, late executive director of TCG, prized. The honorees exemplify pioneering practices in theatre, are dedicated to the freedom of expression and are unafraid of taking risks for the advancement of the art form. In honor of Peter’s uncanny ability to introduce talent to the rest of the field, the nominees have not been recognized nationally for their work. 

The Latinx Theatre Commons, in partnership with HowlRound, is a national movement that uses a commons-based approach to transform the narrative of the American theatre, to amplify the visibility of Latina/o/x performance making, and to champion equity through advocacy, art making, convening, and scholarship. Their values include Service, Radical Inclusion, Transparency, Legacy & Leadership Cultivation, and Advancement of the Art Form. The LTC is self-organized collective governed by an 80 person Steering and Advisory Committee comprised of Latinx and allied theatre makers all over the US. This movement was galvanized by a gathering of eight theatre makers in 2012, hosted by HowlRound at Arena Stage. The Latinx Theatre Commons has modeled a new way of organizing to support and bring visibility to Latinx artists and work through Convenings (both digital and in-person) in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, and New York City.


The Theatre Practitioner Award recognizes a living individual—artist or administrator, institutionally affiliated or unaffiliated—whose work in the American theatre has evidenced exemplary achievement over time and who has contributed significantly to the development of the larger field. 

Linda Hartzell 
served as Artistic Director of Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) and its Education Programs from 1984 until her retirement in 2016. She received her BA in Education from the University of Washington. She has directed 84 plays for SCT, 56 of which were world premieres, including The Red Badge of Courage, Holes, Pink and Say, Still Life with Iris, The Odyssey, Afternoon of the Elves, and The Rememberer. She directed The Grapes of Wrath at Intiman Theatre, and has also directed for Syracuse Stage. Ms. Hartzell was formerly on the board of Theatre Communications Group, and she is a former vice president of the United States Center for the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ/USA). She was recently honored with the prestigious Gregory Falls Sustained Achievement Award, given by Theatre Puget Sound, and the Mayor’s Arts Award. She has also been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. She was a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from UW College of Arts and Sciences in 1994.


The Visionary Leadership Award is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance the theatre field as a whole, nationally and/or internationally. Recipients of this award are individuals who regularly think beyond their day-to-day work in order to implement practices, new models, advocacy efforts, etc. on behalf of the field.

Susan Medak has served as Berkeley Rep’s managing director since 1990, leading the administration and operations of the Theatre. She has served as president of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and treasurer of Theatre Communications Group, organizations that represent the interests of nonprofit theatres across the nation. Susan chaired panels for the Massachusetts Arts Council and has also served on program panels for Arts Midwest, the Joyce Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Closer to home, Susan serves on the board of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA). She is the founding chair of the Berkeley Arts in Education Steering Committee for Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Cultural Trust. She was awarded the 2012 Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal by the Berkeley Community Fund. Susan serves on the faculty of Yale School of Drama and is a proud member of the Mont Blanc Ladies’ Literary Guild and Trekking Society. She lives in Berkeley with her husband.


The National Funder Award recognizes a small, midsize or large company or foundation that has evidenced leadership and provided outstanding sustained national support of theatre in America.

The William & Eva Fox Foundation (“Fox Foundation”) has had over 10 years of commitment to the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships program administered by TCG. The program focuses on the actor being the nexus between theatres and the communities they serve and gives actors the resources to pursue their artistic and professional development while in residence at a not-for-profit theatre. Some examples of the impact the Foundation’s grant making has had on the local and national theatre community include Daniel Robert Sullivan’s fellowship with Roundabout Theatre Company which empowered a group of high school students to co-author and publish a socially-conscious play based on their real-life experiences called Prospect High: Brooklyn, the first play in history to experience a coordinated Rolling World Premiere in 23 high school theatres nationwide; Sha Cage’s development of Black Like Her with young women she mentored at Penumbra Theatre; Sandra Delgado’s interview-based theatre show, para mis Madres, developed at the Goodman Theatre and workshops she led in movement with the Latino actor-creator community; Alvin Chan’s Anime Momotaro and Five Chinese Brothers fostered by Honolulu Theatre For Youth and inspired by his fellowship training in Butoh, Kyogen, Beijing Opera and Lion Dance; and the living legend André De Shields’ original piece, CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P, and masterclasses he led at Victory Gardens .Through its prestigious Fox Fellowships and for almost a quarter century, the Foundation has awarded over $3 million to 335 actors who been recognized as having an abiding commitment to the theatre. These fellowship grants have allowed the recipients to have substantial periods of intensive study, research and training. The Fox Foundation is the largest and only grantmaker solely dedicated to the artistic and professional development and support of theatre actors.


The Regional Funder Award recognizes a local funding organization that has evidenced leadership and has provided outstanding sustained support of theatres in the region in which the conference is being held. The 2017 award honors a funder based in Oregon.

Established in 2002, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation funds non-profits throughout the state of Oregon in two areas: performing and visual arts and classroom education. The foundation envisions an Oregon where the arts have effective performance innovation and community support and an education system that supports the effectiveness of students and teachers in the classroom. The Miller Foundation invests in strong leaders and effective business models and encourages strategic approaches to non-profit work. The foundation values leadership, collaboration, relationships, learning, curiosity and flexibility.

Further information from the Theatre Communications Group (TCG):