2020 G/C AWARD FINALISTS
Nominees are evaluated on five criteria. They must have achieved artistic excellence, particularly in the exploration of new forms of theatrical expression; have received recognition of their work at home and abroad; demonstrate a commitment to the support of women through theatrical practice; have a body of work that inspires and educates US theatre practitioners with new ideas from abroad; and be able to leverage greater recognition and opportunity via receipt of the G/C Award.
Iman Aoun (Palestine)
Began her career in 1984 with the internationally renowned Palestinian Theatre Company El-Hakawati. In 1991 she co-founded ASHTAR Theatre and serves as Artistic Director . Aoun holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Studies and a Diploma in Psychodrama and has written and published many theatre studies; devised many plays; and directed nationally and internationally. She is a recognized international trainer of the Theatre of the Oppressed technique, an Award winning actress and director for the stage in more than 60 productions, and has appeared in national TV series and international movies. Aoun has received numerous commendations for her work from different countries, international organizations and festivals, and has served as a Panelist for various world congresses and international conferences. Among her most notable global projects is The Gaza Monologues.
Mallika Sarabhai (India)
Is a trained classical dancer in the Indian styles of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, and lead actress of Peter Brook’s magnum opus, The Mahabharata, has been using dance, theatre, music, puppetry, video and martial arts to draw attention to issues relating to women, violence, human rights and the environment for four decades. As a performer she tours the world with her pieces; the latest, a US tour with her post-MeToo piece, The Colours Of Her Heart. She also trains artists and runs ground level projects in schools, colleges and villages to empower women through art.
Maya Zbib (Lebanon)
Is a theatre director, performer, writer and co-founder and co-artistic director of Zoukak Theatre Company and Zoukak Studio, Beirut. Her work has been shown in the Middle East, Europe, the U.S., Africa, South America and South Asia. Zbib is a Chevening/KRSF Alumna (2007), a Cultural Leadership International Alumna (2010), a fellow of ISPA (2010), protégée of Peter Sellars – Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (2011), Finalist Gilder/Coigney International Theatre Award (2014), message author – World Theatre Day (2018). Zoukak received the Ibsen Scholarship Award (2012), the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Euromed Dialogue Award for social resilience and creativity (2014), the Praemium Imperiale Grant for Young Artists – Japan Arts Association (2017), the Chirac Foundation Award of Culture for Peace (2017) and the Ellen Stewart International Award (2018).
Mihaela Drăgan (Romania)
Is an actress and playwright who lives in Bucharest and works in several countries. In 2014, she founded Giuvlipen Theatre Company, “a cultural phenomena” for which she is an actress and playwright, together with other Roma actresses. She is the initiator of Roma Futurism – an art movement that lies at the intersection of Roma culture with technology and witchcraft. She is also a trainer at Theatre of the Oppressed where she works with Roma women on their specific issues in Romania. In addition, she has worked with refugee girls in Germany as a theatre trainer.
2020 G/C Award Nominees
Sherry Lara Alingod (The Philippines) studied theatre at St. Paul College of Manila where she was introduced to contemporary and historical plays by Filipino playwrights. Her subsequent career as an Actor, Director and Teacher spans four decades. She received the 2019 Gawad Buhay Award, the Filipino equivalent of the Tony Award, for Best Actress in ‘Night Mother. The play was performed in Tagalog and produced by the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), known for producing socially relevant plays and musicals. Alingod has a long association with PETA and her performance was pivotal in opening a conversation with the community about theatre, mental health and family issues. She has served as a Drama Teacher and Director with Tanghalang, the resident theatre company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. As President of the Alumni Association of her alma mater, Alingod has coached and trained numerous young girls, giving them the discipline and confidence to perform on stage and off, in the theatre and in life.
Hope Azeda (Rwanda) was raised as a refugee in Uganda, but returned home to become one of the leading figures in contemporary Rwandan theatre. She is the founder and artistic director of Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company. Since 1997, Azeda has been involved in 77 productions with the group, including Africa’s Hope, collaboratively created for the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide which has now toured the world. In 2015 she created The Ubumuntu Arts Festival, which brings together countries from around the world and supports national and international peace-building by providing a platform for performing arts that deal with the social trauma of violence in all its forms. Azeda’s work as a writer and director has taken her to many theatres and universities across the globe, and she is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI-ASPEN-Institute). In 2018, she was honored as a John. P. McNulty Prize Laureate. “The beauty of art lies in its ability to deal with the unspeakable”
Jalila Baccar (Tunisia) is recognized not only as one of the leading women playwrights and performers in the Arab world, but also as a powerful political activist. She produces intricate works that comment on the ever-changing political landscape of Tunisia and is the co-founder in 1976 of the first private theatre company in the country, Le Nouveau Theatre, as well as Familia Productions in 1994. Both have been instrumental in modernizing Tunisian theatre and engaging it in contemporary political concerns. Familia uses all the spoken languages of Tunisia to develop work that speaks to every level of society and offers a vision for change. Creating political plays in the wake of the Arab Spring, Familia was an important voice in the promotion of political freedom and enlightened ideas. A member of the Tunisian Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, Baccar was granted the “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters” (France) in 2010. In 2012, she was the recipient of the “Prix Mahmoud Derwiche” (Palestine).
Sarah Berger (England) is an actor, director and producer whose 40-year career has taken her around the world. In 2013, Berger founded the So and So Arts Club in London to provide paid performance opportunities for local and international work of all kinds. So and So now has over 1300 members from nine countries. She has produced a series of international festivals focused on disenfranchised groups, and in 2018 she directed a bi-lingual production of Macbeth at the Bishkek State Theatre of Kyrgyzstan. She received an award for her work creating cultural links with Central Asia, was a finalist in the Global Women Awards 2018, and is an ambassador for the Farkhunda Trust, a charity which raises money to educate young women in Afghanistan. Berger’s current project, We Are Here, focuses on the lives and stories of women over 50 from all over the world. It is not just a curated living history documented and told through theatre and the arts, but a celebration of older women’s voices.
Burbuqe Berisha (Kosovo) was born and raised in Prishtina, Kosovo. Growing up during the war influenced her desire to use the arts as a way to raise awareness of and promote solutions for the underlying issues that promote violence and the lack of opportunity for women in her patriarchal society. Often facing public resistance, Berisha has created, directed and produced innovative theatre and film projects that advocate for radical change, winning multiple awards at international theatre and film festivals. Berisha received her Masters in Film Directing from the University of Prishtina and was the first woman to professionally direct for television in the country. She was Director General of the National Theatre of Kosovo for four years and then Chair of the Board. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Gjakova Theatre, as well as of Shota, The National Song and Dance Ensemble. Berisha is an associate professor at AAB University in Kosovo, and Dean of the Faculty for Mass Communication and Journalism.
Kalpana Gagdekar (India)overcame her status as a member of the Chhara, branded a “Criminal Tribe” in India, to become a noted actor and activist. Her inspiration and motivation comes from the plight of India’s Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNTs) and she considers herself a Cultural Ambassador, representing the women of Denotified tribes on the national and international stage. Gagdekar is a founding member of Budhan Theatre, started by the marginalized youth of the Chhara Tribe, which performs street plays, intimate theatre and other experimental pieces to raise awareness about discrimination and violence faced by oppressed tribal people. In these tribes women are doubly marginalized and Gagdekar has given over 1000 performances throughout the country to raise awareness of that fact, and to advocate for social and economic justice for all. She was Event Coordinator for the 2012 Ahmedabad Theatre Festival and in 2015 she was the recipient of the Nari Shakti Award by the Kim Foundation.
Lupe Gehrenbeck (Venezuela) was born in Caracas and graduated Magna Cum Laude from The School of Art at the Central University of Venezuela. She then won a scholarship from the government for a Master’s in Media Studies at the New School (NYC). Gehrenbeck returned to Caracas and in 1990 started Collective Creation/Street Theatre, which produces a play every year with the children of the Los Chorros neighborhood. That program led UNESCO in 2017 to commission THEATER WITHOUT BORDERS, a project to enhance resilience in migrant children at the southern border of Mexico. A documentary of that experience inspired others around the world to initiate similar projects. Gehrenbeck uses her technique to train theatre professionals as well. She has collaboratively developed and independently produced more than 25 plays in Caracas, and internationally, across three continents in multiple cities, using the same independent collaborative format to adapt them to the local audiences. She has received numerous awards for her work; an anthology of eight of her plays was published in 2018. “I am committed to do the kind of theater that gives voice to those who do not have a voice, those who struggle for their space in society. Because, I suspect, that what can make a change in the world is not in the hands of governments and economic forces, but in the hands of the people.”
Jill Greenhalgh (Wales) is a performer, director and producer primarily focused on experimental practice. Her specific interest in work being developed by women resulted in the foundation, in 1986, of The Magdalena Project—International Network of Women in Contemporary Theatre. The project was conceived to provide a framework that could be duplicated anywhere and has taken place in at least 26 countries. Magdalena is based on non-hierarchical support and sharing and it continues to grow because it continues to be vital in linking women theater artists from all over the world. Greenhalgh remains the founding artistic director. Throughout her 45-year career she has toured extensively across Europe, Australasia and the Americas, with performance work that she describes “as the most effective, layered and least restrictive language I have encountered with which to communicate my personal, political and aesthetic ideas and concerns.” She has also lectured and published widely, and was a full-time lecturer in Performance Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth), specializing in devised physical performance and actor training. “Performance for me is an act of resistance against the status quo and the daily repressions of the dreaming of children and the imaginings of adults who believe in the impossible.’
Lucy Kerbel (England) stepped away from an award-winning directing career to catalyze a sea change for women in theatre by founding Tonic, an organization which has become the preeminent force for driving gender equality in the U.K. performing arts. The results are tangible and change has been achieved through close working relationships with the country’s leading institutions and dozens of dance, opera and theatre organizations across Britain and wider Europe. Kerbel has authored two books, 100 Great Plays for Women and All Change Please, a practical guide for anyone who wants to create greater gender equality in theatre. Prior to establishing Tonic she was Resident Director for the National Theatre Studio and English Touring Theatre, as well as a freelance director, receiving the Old Vic New Voices Award and the Young Angels Theatremakers Award. Kerbel is a regular speaker on women in the arts, a director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women playwrights, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.
Deirdre Kinahan (Ireland) is an award winning playwright and fierce advocate for gender equity in the arts. As a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s elected association of outstanding artists she has brought awareness to the necessity of expanding the number of women playwrights in the country. Her work is translated into many languages and is produced regularly in Ireland and on the International stage. Kinahan wrote her first play in 1999 when a group of women at Ruhama Women’s Project asked her to write about their lives as prostitutes. She co-founded and was Artistic Director for fifteen years of Tall Tales Theatre Company, a successful small independent Irish company focusing on new plays and the work of female playwrights worldwide. Her plays have won many awards, notably a “Fringe First” for Halcyon Days and the Jim McNaughton Tilestyle Artist Bursary, both in 2013; a 2014 Peggy Ramsay Award and Arts Council of Ireland Commission Award in 2015 and 2017. She has served as a board member for the Abbey Theatre, Theatre Forum Ireland and the Stewart Parker Trust.
Zana Hoxha Krasniqi (Kosovo) is the founder and leader of Artpolis, which aims to promote dialogue among people of different ethnic, social or religious backgrounds and sexual orientations, to address taboo issues and debunk prejudices in Kosovo and the Balkans. Krasniqi was head of the Theatre Department of the SKENA UP Festival (2004-2011) and artistic director of Gjakova Professional Theatre (2011-2014). She is the founder and artistic director of FEMART, the largest women’s festival in the region. It promotes, empowers and celebrates women who share their ideas, experience and work and who bring forward feminist concepts that challenge patriarchal societies in the region. Krasniqi has won numerous awards for her productions that raise awareness of gender-based violence, human rights, and diversity. She has presented her work as an artist/activist/trainer in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Krasniqi was a 2018 Fellow with the International Society for the Performing Arts, is also an alumni of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).
Katy Lipson (England) is the founder and director of Aria Entertainment, which has become a success story in London and the UK as a huge supporter of new musicals and boutique revivals. She has produced over 60 musicals on and off the West End, and from 2016-2019 she was the producing artistic director of Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester where she produced 13 musicals. She has won two WhatsOnStage Awards for her West End and Manchester productions and Aria now has a full-time literary department for new International musicals with several shows under commission and development. Lipson’s “From Page to Stage Festival” has given a platform to over 100 original musicals, many of which have gone on to have full productions and be licensed worldwide. She won the Off West End Award for Best Producer in 2017 and for her work in 2018 – 2019, she was named in THE STAGE 100, a list of the most influential people working in British Theatre.
Edna Mazya (Israel) is one of Israel’s most lauded and popular playwrights, whose work has achieved international attention for over 30 years. Her plays specialize in blending private disagreements with national conflicts to address critical and sometimes painful issues for the Israeli people. Her most well-known and controversial play, Games in the Backyard, is based on actual court transcripts from a widely publicized rape incident. The play is a strong indictment against women’s objectification – many years before the #MeToo movement and has been translated into many languages and performed across Europe. Her other acclaimed and award-winning plays have been repeatedly produced and performed in Israel and around the world. Mazya was named “Playwright of the Year” in 1998 for The Rebels. She directed numerous works by the esteemed playwright, the late Anat Gov and written screenplays for Amos Gutman’s films: Afflicted, Bar 51 and Himmo King of Jerusalem. She has also published two successful novels and four children’s books.
Dijana Milošević (Serbia) is a renowned human rights activist and multiple award-winning theatre director. She co-founded Dah Theatre Research Center in Belgrade, Serbia and for 30 years has directed Dah’s devised theatre productions focused on social change and justice. Dah Theatre also collaborates with feminist-activist groups such as Women in Action (ACT Women) and Women in Black. The goal of this cooperation is to resist war, any form of violence and the culture of denial related to it, all the while fostering the empowerment of women and the building of lasting peace. she has also directed theatre shows that have toured internationally with her own company and has worked with other companies all over the world. She is a well-known lecturer and published author on theatre and culture, has taught at world-famous universities, and is a past Fulbright Fellow. Milosevic is currently a Professor at the Institute for Modern Dance in Belgrade, teaching Comparative Directing and Choreography.
Jaspreet Saund (Canada) is a Toronto based actor and writer and a graduate of the conservatory program at Stella Adler Studio in New York. She volunteered with the community outreach program at Stella Adler and provided free actor training to inner city youth in underserved populations in the Bronx. Upon her return to Toronto, she joined Shakespeare in Action, which provides an educational curriculum on Shakespeare for inner city youth from grades 5 to 8. Saund co-founded Open Heart Productions and serves as the Co-Artistic Director. Open Heart creates and performs theatre that is inclusive of diverse ethnic backgrounds and the LGBQT community through devised and immersive works. Saund’s goal is to create opportunities for women as well as to encourage women of color to present new works, and participate in roles in which they would normally not be cast. She is currently creating work about South Asian women in India and mental health in the South Asian community and the stigma behind it.
Grace Gachocha Nakaka (Tanzania) is the founder and artistic director of Talanta 5 (Five Talents) which serves Tanzania’s youth by providing them access to creative arts education as an empowerment tool to improve their learning outcomes. It also provides a platform for advocating for social justice in their communities. Nakaka began her arts education training as a Performing Arts major at University of Dar es Salaam, serving as an intern with the International Theatre and Literacy Project (ITLP). ITLP subsequently chose Nakaka as co-leader of a summer theatre arts program with Urban Gateways, in the heart of Chicago. Her success with this project led ITLP to appoint her as Director of the entire Tanzanian ITLP program in 2010. That year she also collaborated with Salasala Kids Club Dar-es-salaam to create a mentoring program for girls and young women. Nakaka is currently working to institutionalize Talanta’s creative arts curriculum throughout the country’s education system, so that the programs interventions and methodologies will have a lasting impact.
Beate Seidel (Germany) is a dramaturg, lecturer, and devisor of original works, and Chief Dramatic Advisor for the German National Theatre Weimar. Growing up in the GDR (East Germany) and seeing it fall, impressed on Seidel the importance of theatre as a hub for society’s discussions about itself. Her work addresses critical issues such as immigration, the role of women in a culture with a growing Muslim population, and the rise of populist factions in Germany. Most importantly, Seidel invites her audiences to continue the discussion after the performance, aiming for a sustained cultural-political dialogue. She serves as dramatic advisor and on senior leadership teams at multiple theatres and has an extensive record of developing new plays. She has also produced adaptations of novels and movies for the stage and radio. Seidel always seeks to shape and form her working environment, thereby creating a better space for women+ as directors, designers, or performers, creating in theatre a blueprint for a better future.
Jung-Soon Shim (Republic of Korea) is a ground-breaking educator, playwright, theatre critic, founder of the Korean Association of Women in Theatre (1994) and former President of the Korean Theatre Studies Association. A noted feminist, Shim fought to infuse the very concept of women’s drama into Korean theatre circles. Her play, Comfort Women was presented at the 1997 International Women Playwrights Conference in Galway, Ireland before touring to other countries, including the U.S.. It was the first play ever to shine the light on the sexual slavery of Korean women under Japanese occupation, long before the issue was publicized internationally. Recently Shim formed the Korea Ibsen Project, consisting of several theatre groups and scholars, to revisit Ibsen’s women-oriented plays within the Korean Me-Too movement context, and ultimately to produce “koreanized” versions of Ibsen’s plays. Shim has received several prestigious awards for her theatre-related works and is currently involved in a wide range of women’s theatre collaborations on the global front as a hands-on theatre practitioner. “I still strongly believe that art, whichever form it may take, should open new visions of a better future for people.”
Avra Sidiropoulou (Greece) is a director, theatre scholar, and educator. She has been the artistic director of the Athens-based Persona Theatre Company since 2003, which travels to locations with troubled histories to meet and collaborate with “The Other” and develop work that offers a vision of a peaceful world. She is also academic head of the Μ.Α. Program in Theatre Studies at the Open University of Cyprus and has been a visiting researcher at leading universities internationally. Her theatre projects include visual and multimedia adaptations of the classical repertoire, but she is especially interested in international collaborative projects, aspiring to build bridges among artists, aesthetic forms and cultures. Sidiropoulou has written two monographs that delve into the history, theory and methodology of directing: Directions for Directing. Theatre and Method (Routledge 2018) and Authoring Performance: The Director in Contemporary Theatre (2011) and has contributed academic articles and chapters to several international peer-reviewed journals and edited collections. “I’ll keep working for what, I believe, is the purpose of making theatre, anyway: Leaving the self behind, sharing a flow of imagination, embracing the community, being present in the world.”
Andrea Tompa, Ph.D. (Hungary) is an internationally recognized theatre scholar and critic who has worked in collaboration with many of Hungary’s and Romania’s most influential artists. Her distinct, innovative approach to the field of theatre criticism and to teaching and lecturing on contemporary Hungarian, Russian, and Eastern European theatre has given her an esteemed position within those communities. In 2005 Dr. Tompa became an editor of the prestigious Hungarian theater magazine Színház and is now the editor-in-chief. She also writes regularly for important magazines abroad including the German Theater Heute and Yale School of Drama’s Theater. Dr. Tompa is president of the Hungarian Theatre Critics Association, and a professor at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. Through these leadership positions, she prioritizes the mentorship of young female critics and works to elevate the careers of female directors whose accomplishments are often minimized in the region’s male dominated professional theatre arena. In 2010 she became an award-winning novelist with two published books, which she believes gives her access to a larger audience. All my writings and activities reflect the ambition to make woman’s achievement visible, to shape the discourse and language, to challenge old hierarchies.
Ilire Vinca (Kosovo) is an actor, director, and educator who has advocated for female empowerment on and off the stage for over 30 years. Living through the Kosovo war, she discovered the importance of art, especially for emotional support and healing. Through her company ODA, founded in 1993, she has overcome the material and societal challenges faced by female artists in the region, and has consistently used theatre as a tool for telling the truth. Over the years, the company has developed a movement based, devised theatre approach and collaborates with other groups both locally and internationally, winning awards and acclaim for both their process and their productions. As one of the heads of the Theatre Department at the University of Prishtina, the largest university in Kosovo, Vinca is leading the transformation of theatre training and redefining the culture of theatre and pedagogy in her country. She is also a board member of the National Theatre of Kosovo and Chair of the Board of the Cinematografic Center.
Faynia Williams (England) is a multi-award winning international theatre director and BBC producer of drama and documentaries. Among what would become many “firsts” her doctoral studies at Oxford University enabled her to form the Oxford Free Theatre, bringing first productions of Russian theatre to the U.K. As a “Fellow in Theatre” she then initiated the first women’s theatre company at Bradford University, Chain Reaction. Her significant and years-long theatre work in conflict and post conflict zones feeds into everything she creates, from the fringe to the West End. She has been artistic director of five UK theatres including her current post at Brighton Theatre, where she uses the power of the arts to go “where politics cannot, with the aim of effecting change”. Williams has received a record number of Fringe First Awards for most enterprising productions. She has also worked with a number of international organizations, including serving as honorary president of UNESCO’S International Theatre Institute Dramatic Theatre Committee. She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts.