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Announcing The 2021 Nominees and Special Recognition Honorees for The 87th Annual Drama League Awards During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcing The 2021 Nominees and Special Recognition Honorees for The 87th Annual Drama League Awards During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Drama League (Artistic Director, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks; Executive Director, Bevin Ross) is pleased to announce the 2021 Nomineesand Special Recognition Honorees for The 87th Annual Drama League Awards. Keeping in the tradition of honoring the outstanding accomplishments of the theatrical community, as they have since 1935, this year the organization has established five unique categories to honor the extraordinary achievements of artists across the nation who created digital and socially-distanced theatrical productions during this challenging year of suspension for live arts. The list of nominations follows; voting is now open for Drama League members, through April 16. The 87th Annual Drama League Awards will be streamed on Friday, May 21, 2021 at 7:00PM ET. 

The 33 nominated productions were selected from submissions by 400+ directors and theatre professionals who are the alumni of The Drama League’s support programs for directors. There are five categories of distinction: Outstanding Digital Theater, Individual Production; Outstanding Digital Theater, Collection or Festival; Outstanding Interactive or Socially-Distanced Theater; Outstanding Audio Theater Production; and Outstanding Digital ConcertEligible productions premiered between March 12, 2020 – March 15, 2021. 

The Drama League Awards’ 2021 Special Recognition Honorees are: Iris Smith, who will receive the inaugural Gratitude Award for her fearless support of the The Drama League and the theater community at large; Liesl Tommy, who will be presented with the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing for her extraordinary work on stages across the country and commitment to mentorship in the field; father-daughter duo Richard & Demi Weitz, who will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award for their creation of the “Quarantunes” series, which provides a virtual platform for musical theater artists and generated over $20 million in funds for nonprofits across the country; and The Actors Fund, recipient of the Unique Contribution to Theater Award for its emergency relief efforts through COVID-19, the Winter Storms, and Oregon Wildfires this past season and its ongoing commitment to providing resources for artists.  

“In this most difficult time, when stages across America were forced to darken, theater artists responded with light — producing bold new work in ways most of us never dreamed of,” said Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks.  “Thanks to the artists who are alumni of The Drama League’s programs, we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate a few of the extraordinary productions made in the last year — pieces that exemplify inspiration, innovation, and imagination.  Thanks to all of them, from all of us, for the joy and hope they created all over the world.” 

New members registered before April 9 can participate in this year’s voting period, and members registered before May 17 will receive access to attend the May 21 event for free. Tickets for non-members start at $15 with additional VIP upgrades, Virtual Tables, Tribute Ads, and sponsorship packages available for corporations, producers, and patrons. All are welcome to attend with a Pass-it-Forward ticket available for those unable to donate.  Drama League Membership is an audience support program for the American theatre; members receive access to special members-only events, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and West End tickets, discounts at local businesses, industry insider updates, and more. Membership is tax-deductible, with annual and monthly membership options available. To become a voting member, visit or call (212) 244-9494, Ext. 101. 

Since 1922, The Drama League Awards have been presented by The Drama League, an arts service organization that, for over a century, has provided vital support to the field and its artists.  The organization’s mission provides the nation’s only full-time, lifelong creative home for stage directors and the audiences that enjoy their work across the world. The five traditional competitive categories are Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Production of a Musical, Outstanding Revival of a Play, Outstanding Revival of a Musical,and the highly coveted Distinguished Performance Award. Additionally, each year theater luminaries are selected to receive Special Honors: The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing, the award for Unique Contribution to the Theater, the award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater, and the new Gratitude Award.  

For a complete list of productions and performers that have won Drama League Awards in the event’s history, as well as all past honorees, click here.The Drama League is grateful for support from its generous donors and current Drama League Awards Sponsors including Iris Smith, Sceneworks Studios; Stan Ponte; BroadwayHD (Bonnie Comley & Stewart F. Lane); Kathy Henderson; Paula Kaminsky Davis; JoAnn Weisel; Talu Productions & Lakeview Productions (Una Jackman & Jay Alix); and Tony Benten. More information about our programs, alumni, and the history of the Drama League Awards can be found at  


Belly of the BeastDirected by Lisa RotheWritten by Margaret VandenburgDaniel Dae Kim/3AD, in partnership with TodayTix and New York Theatre Workshop (New York, NY)

Circle JerkConceived and Written by Michael Breslin and Patrick Foleyin Collaboration with Cat Rodriguez and Ariel SibertDirected by Rory PelsueProduced by Caroline GartFake Friends (New York, NY)

DisclaimerWritten by Tara AhmadinejadDirected by Jeff Wood & Tara AhmadinejadCreated by PieholeThe Public Theater (New York, NY)

Don’t Stay SafeBook and Lyrics by Cheryl L. Davis, Music by Douglas J. CohenDirected by Christina FranklinProspect Theater Company (New York, NY) 

Duchess!  Duchess!  Duchess!Written by Vivian J.O. BarnesDirected by Weyni MengeshaSteppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)–events/steppenwolf-now/2020-21/duchess-duchess-duchess/

The Great Work Begins: Scenes from Angels In AmericaWritten by Tony KushnerDirected by Ellie HeymanPresented by amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research)

GRIMMZ Fairy Tales  Written by Christopher Parks, Rahsheem Shabazz, and Ron Lee McGillDirected by Christopher Parks    Children’s Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)

Heroes of the Fourth TurningWritten by Will ArberyDirected by Blanka ZizkaWilma Theater (Philadelphia, PA)

Last GaspWritten by Lois Weaver and Peggy ShawDirected by Lois WeaverSplit Britches (New York, NY)

The Last 5 YearsWritten and Composed by Jason Robert BrownDirected by Jason Michael WebbOut Of The Box Theatrics (New York, NY)

What Do They Call UsCreated and Directed by Qween JeanArs Nova (New York, NY)

Where Did We Sit on the Bus? Written by Brian QuijadaDirected by Matt DicksonA digital creation by Satya Chávez and Matt DicksonActors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, KY)


1MOVE: DES19NED BY…Created by Alan C. Edwards, Brittany Bland, Christopher Darbassie, Dominique Fawn Hill, Kameron Neal, Mika Eubanks, Nehprii Amenii, nicHi douglas, Nikiya Mathis, Qween Jean, Ramaj Jamar, Taylor Lilly, Teniece Divya Johnson, Teresa L. Williams, Twi McCallum, Ao Li, Chen-Wei Liao, Dina El-Aziz, Edurne Fernandez, Kimie Nishikawa, María Feuereisen, Megumi Katayama, Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, Omar Madkour, Reza Behjat, Riw Rakkulchon, Rodrigo Muñoz, Stefania Bulbarella, Wenzheng (Wen) Zhang, and Yee Eun NamCo-Curated by Dede Ayite, Stacey Derosier, Clint Ramos, Cha See, and Paul TazewellThe Movement Theatre Company (New York, NY)

AFO Solo Shorts (Round 1 and 2) Written, created, and directed by Veronica Barron, Beaudau Karel Banks, Eliza Bent, Ellarose Chary, Jody Christopherson, Jasmine Eileen Coles, Kendra Cui, Darian Dauchan, Toni Ann DeNoble, Tayna Everett, Gina Femia, Nela Fortunato, Raz Golden, Nathan Gebhard, Charles Gershman, Kathryn Grody, Brandon James Gwinn, Katie Melby, Matthew Paul Olmos, Erika Sheffer, Casey Alexander Smith, William Steinberger, Melissa Tien, Rhys Tivey, Emily Waters, Sybil Wigglesworth, Zonia, Tsang Lok SzeAll For One Theater (New York, NY)

The Manic Monologues Originally Created by Zachary Burton and Elisa HofmeisterVirtual Experience Conceived and Directed by Elena AraozMcCarter Theater Center in collaboration with Princeton University Health Services, The 24 Hour Plays, and Innovations in Socially Distant Performance at the Lewis Center for the Arts (Princeton, NJ)

The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration and Influence Written by Adrienne Kennedy (Sleep Deprivation Chamber by Adam P. Kennedy and Adrienne Kennedy)Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell, Timothy Douglas, Valerie Curtis-Newton, and Nicole A. WatsonRound House Theatre (Bethesda, MD) in association with McCarter Theater Center (Princeton, NJ); Conceived by Nicole A. Watson

Theater in Quarantine Created by founder Joshua William Gelb (New York, NY) and Katie Rose McLaughlin (New York, NY)


American Dreams Written by Leila BuckDirected by Tamilla WoodardCreated and developed by Leila Buck and Tamilla Woodard with Jens Rasmussen,in collaboration with Osh Ghanimah, Imran Sheikh, and the companyWorking Theater (New York, NY)

Carla’s Quince Created by The Voting Project (Ashley Alvarez, Galia Backal, Yadira De La Riva, Jorge Donoso, Estefanía Fadul, Michael León, María Peyramaure, Camila Pérez Santiago, and Christina Watanabe)Directed by Estefanía FadulWith guest artists Jason Aguirre (tech facilitator), Jamie Salinger (stage manager), Haydee Zelideth (costume consultant), and Sebastian Zuniga (performer)*Trigger warning – references to racial violence

Fort Worth Lynching Tour: Honoring the Memory of Mr. Fred Rouse Concept and Choreography: Adam W. McKinney Director: Daniel Banks App Design: Digital Ant MediaMusic by: Third Wind Productions/Maritri Garrett and David WinderGraphic Design: Troy LambertTintype Photography: Will WilsonGuest Artists: Edykah Chilome, Julienne Greer, Sedrick Huckaby, Jordan Jones, Opal Lee, Pastor Kyev P. Tatum, Sr.Associate Producer: Jiles King; Production Associate: NaTasha Thompson; Production Manager: Jamelyn Ebelacker; Production Assistant: Lauren Huynh; Sound Engineering: Michael Billow and Gregg PowersA DNAWORKS Production (Fort Worth, TX)

Package Play Created and Performed by Katie FarminTricklock Company (Albuquerque, NM) 

7 Deadly Sins Written by Hilary Bettis, Nilo Cruz, Moisés Kaufman, Rogelio Martinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Carmen Pelaez, and Aurin SquireConceived and directed by Michel HausmannMiami New Drama (Miami Beach, FL)

A Thousand Ways (Part One) Created by 600 HIGHWAYMEN | Abigail Browde & Michael Silverstone  (Brooklyn, NY)ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann, Executive Producer

Wild Thyme Written by Liz Duffy AdamsProduced by West Hyler and Shelley ButlerArtistic Stamp (New York, NY)  


G.O.A.T. Written by Ngozi AnyanwuDirected by Whitney WhitePlaying On Air (Hillsdale, NY)

OUTTAKES Written by Qui NguyenDirected by May AdralesPlaywrights Horizons (New York, NY)

The Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club Written by Shakina Nayfack Directed by Laura Savia Williamstown Theatre Festival (Williamstown, MA) and Audible

Prime: A Practical BreviaryWritten, Composed and Performed by Heather ChristianPlaywrights Horizons (New York, NY)

Tiger Style! Written by Mike Lew Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel Huntington Theatre Company and WGBH Radio (Boston, MA) 


BREATHING FREE, a visual album featuring excerpts from Beethoven’s Fidelio, Negro Spirituals, and songs by Harry T. Burleigh, Florence Price, Langston Hughes, Anthony Davis, and Thulani Davis Heartbeat Opera,

Myths and Hymns (Chapters 1 and 2) Music and Lyrics by Adam GuettelConceived and supervised by Ted SperlingDirected by Greg Anderson, Sammi Cannold, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Lear deBessonet, Khristian Dentley, Doug Fitch, Anne Kauffman, and Ted SperlingPresented by Mastervoices

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical Conceived by The #RatatouilleMusical CommunityFeaturing Work by Danny Bernstein, Gabbi Bolt, Kevin Chamberlin, RJ Christian, Nathan Fosbinder, Emily Jacobsen, Sophia James, Katie Johantgen, Daniel Mertzlufft, Alec Powell, Blake Rouse and Jessica SiswickAdapted for the stage by Michael Breslin and Patrick FoleyDirected by Lucy MossPresented by Seaview

Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration Music and Lyrics by Stephen SondheimProduced by Stephen Sondheim, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Bill Curran, Raúl Esparza, John Gore and Paul WontorekDirected by Paul WontorekBenefit for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty)Presented by 


Gratitude Award Honoree Iris Smith  

The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing Honoree Liesl Tommy 

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Honoree Richard & Demi Weitz  

Unique Contribution to Theater Award Honoree  The Actors Fund


Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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