FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR 2020 DOROTHY AND RICHARD E. SHERWOOD AWARD Center Theatre Group’s $10,000 Award Supports Innovative L.A. Theatre Artists
Three finalists have been selected for Center Theatre Group’s 2020 Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award: Sigrid Gilmer, Alexandra Meda and Mat Diafos Sweeney. Center Theatre Group recognizes and celebrates this year’s finalists for their exceptional contributions to the Los Angeles theatre landscape and their work as innovative and adventurous artists.
Created in memory of Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood, the $10,000 award aims to cultivate innovative theatre artists working in Los Angeles who push formal and aesthetic boundaries and demonstrate dedication to improving their respective artistic fields. The winner of the $10,000 award will be announced at the 2020 Ovation Awards. The two additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium.
Sigrid Gilmer makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society. Sigrid burst onto the national theatre scene with her play “Harry and the Thief,” an action film/historical/time travel play about a thief who is blackmailed into traveling back in time to deliver a cache of arms to Harriet Tubman. It has since been produced across the country, including Pavement Group (Chicago), Know Theatre (Cincinnati) and Skylight Theatre (L.A.). Additional select works include “Slavey” (Clubbed Thumb), “Seed: A Weird Act of Faith,” “It’s All Bueno” (Cornerstone Theater Company), “Frilly” and “Mama Metal” (IAMA Theatre Company). Her television work includes “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (Netflix) and “Claws” (TNT). Sigrid has an MFA in Writing for Performance from CalArts, where she was mentored by Suzan-Lori Parks. She resides in Los Angeles.
As a stage director, culture-producer, disrupter for social justice and a digital media creator, Alexandra Meda generates original works through collective/ensemble practice that is engaged both in person and virtually with artists and changemakers across the globe. As a devised theatre maker she nurtures female-driven spaces that center WOC in rich collaborations between the community, performers, scholars, designers, thinkers and artists. With her work, she aims to positively shift how we interact with, look at and value the femme body. She is the Artistic Director for Teatro Luna + Teatro Luna West, a national Latinx/WOC collective that tours internationally with ensembles founded in 2000 in Chicago and 2014 in Los Angeles. In 2018 she opened up Studio Luna, a performance and EDI workshop laboratory for new work, community gathering and thought. This spring she directed and co-produced an Audible Original called “Talking While Female & Other Dangerous Acts,” featuring 25 short solo plays with original music with a forthcoming podcast of the same title. Currently, she is finishing development on “The Times,” the third play in Teatro Luna’s trilogy on themes of violence against women which goes on tour in 2020 through the support of a National Touring and Development Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts. The trilogy begins with “Generation Sex,” which world premiered at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 2015, “Lovesick,” workshopped in 2017 at the DESTINOS International Latino Theatre Festival in Chicago and culminates with “The Times,” which is a production with an accompanying museum exhibit documenting the last decade of violence against women of color by women of color. She has a forthcoming book project on the relationship between collaboration, failure and innovation with Dr. Liza Ann Acosta; contributes to the National Cultural Navigations Project; is a steering committee member of The Jubilee and the Latinx Theatre Commons, both national movements for equity and parity in theatre; and works with The Latinx Theatre Alliance, Los Angeles. Since 2017 she has facilitated creative renewal, collaborative leadership and leading change retreats, workshops and training in her favorite cities around the world. She is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Mat Diafos Sweeney is an Ovation Award-winning performance maker from Los Angeles. His practice includes directing, choreographing, designing, composing music and writing/collaging texts to make new theatre. He creates through-composed performance work for multi-disciplinary ensembles, often devised and staged in non-theatrical venues. He has been independently producing work as four larks since 2008, with an evolving coterie of collaborators across the US and Australia. His most recent projects include “undine,” a New Music USA-supported ecofeminist songspiel in a converted flower shop downtown, and “katabasis,” a processional opera staged around the grounds and gardens of the Getty Villa, styled after ancient mystery rites. In the coming year, he will continue his ongoing series of site-specific performance activations for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, present his participatory installation song cycle “hymns” and premiere his new adaptation of Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein” at the Wallis.
Since 1996, Center Theatre Group has recognized and celebrated local theatre artists with the Richard E. Sherwood Award. In 2018 Dorothy Sherwood, Richard’s wife and fellow champion of innovative and adventurous theatre artists, passed away. To honor the passion and dedication of both patrons of the arts, the award was renamed the Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award.
Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood were patrons of the arts with a special appreciation for artists who are in the vanguard of theatre. Richard was president and then chairman of the Center Theatre Group Board of Directors from 1980 until his passing in 1993. The award is established as an endowed fund at Center Theatre Group by their family, friends, colleagues and fellow board members, to honor the family’s passionate commitment to theatre. Dorothy Sherwood was deeply involved in the curation and selection process, hosting salons at her home for many of the artists, traveling to theatres around Los Angeles to support new work, and ensuring that the award would truly help recipients.
Past recipients of the Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award include set and projection designer Hana S. Kim (who designed the August Wilson Monologue Competition at the Taper), lighting designer Pablo Santiago (“Zoot Suit” and “Valley of the Heart”), lighting designer Christopher Kuhl (“The Nether” and “Appropriate”), costume designer Ann Closs-Farley (“Women Laughing Alone With Salad,” “Zoot Suit”), director Lars Jan (“The White Album”), director/performer/choreographer Ameenah Kaplan (“The Royale,” “Facing Our Truth”), playwright John Belusso (“The Body of Bourne”) and director Robert O’Hara (“In the Continuum,” “Eclipsed”) among others.
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.
# # #
November 11, 2019