We don’t know which of this year’s Helen Hayes Award nominees will receive the coveted Helen Hayes awards on Monday, May 13, but we do know this: Ally Theatre Company will receive the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, and Jennifer L. Nelson will receive the 2019 Helen Hayes Tribute.
Nelson’s tribute will mark her career as an actor, writer, director, producer, educator and theater thought leader. She began here forty-seven years ago with the celebrated Living Stage Theatre Company, where she collaborated with founder Robert Alexander in the company’s socially conscious and transformative mission. During that period Nelson spent a year in residence at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angels, where that company helped to develop Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.
Upon her return to Washington, Nelson penned the MacArthur Award-winning play, Torn From the Headlines, and took the helm at the African Continuum Theater for eleven years as its Artistic Director. While there, Nelson produced the first Washington Hip Hop Theatre Festival. One of its productions, The Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown, which feature Psalmayene 24 and Toni Blackman, went on to the New York Hip Hop Festival and the National Black Theatre Festival.
Nelson has directed at several major Washington theaters, her most recent projects being Milk Like Sugar at Mosaic and The Gospel at Colonus at WSC Avant Bard. She has also taught at Georgetown University American University, George Washington University, University of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University. She has served as President of the League of Washington Theatres and on the Board of Driectors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG).
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The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company will this year go to Ally Theatre Company, a company whose mission it is, in the words of a joint statement by Producing Artistic Director Ty Hallmark and Managing Director Ivana Alexander, “illuminating unheard voices and unseen spaces in our community and in our world.” Ally’s most recent full production was of Jennifer Mendenhall’s #poolparty, of which DCTS’ Jeff Walker said in this review, “writer Mendenhall and her director Gillyard keep the story moving swiftly even as the past and the present collide in a panoply that illuminates as it questions.”
theatreWashington will present the 35th annual Helen Hayes Awards at The Anthem in DC’s Wharf District. Actor Felicia Curry and actor/director Rick Hammerly (both recipients of 2018 Helen Hayes Awards) will host the ceremony, which will begin promptly, more or less, at 7.30 on Monday, May 13. All guests are invited to stay for the After Party.
Tickets are available by clicking this link.
DCTS writer Jon Jon Johnson will be on hand for special reporting of the ceremony. Photographer Ryan Maxwell’s After Party photos, one of our most popular features of the year, will be available here on Tuesday.