The Central Region Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) presented the annual Spirit, a Celebration of Diversity on Monday, March 19, 2012 at the Chicago Actors’ Equity Building.
Spirit, a Celebration of Diversity honors Chicago and Central Region members of color, theatre companies that make non-traditional casting a priority all season long, and other individuals and organizations that follow Actors’ Equity’s goals of diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity for all who work in the theatre industry.
The list of Chicago theatres that regularly practice non-traditional casting continues to grow. The list includes: About Face Theatre, Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Collaboraction, Court Theatre, Congo Square Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Illinois Theatre Center, MPACCT, Pegasus Players, Remy Bumppo, Silk Road Rising, 16th Street Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna, Urban Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater and Writers' Theatre. The Central Region list includes: Detroit Repertory Theatre, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Hansberry-Sands (Milwaukee), History Theatre (Minneapolis), Human Race Theatre Company (Dayton), Mixed Blood (Minneapolis), Penumbra Theatre (Minneapolis), St. Louis Black Repertory (Kansas City), Theatre Mu (Minneapolis), Uprooted Theatre (Milwaukee) and Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City).
For the third consecutive year, a performance of the outstanding song "One Voice" by Butch Stewart started the award program. "One Voice," performed amazingly by The AFTRA Singers (Austin Curtis, Dennis Kelly, Mark MacLean, Greta Pope, Kevin Smith, and Paul Zimmerman), celebrates unions and solidarity and encompasses Equity's national EEO "One Voice" brand. The "One Voice" brand was established at the National EEO Summit in January 2010.
The celebration continued with a well-kept secret. The Central Region Spirit Award (with a unanimous vote by the EEOC) was officially renamed the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award in honor of the recently retired Central Regional Director. The announcement by EEOC members Diane Dorsey and Ira Carol received a standing ovation for a very surprised, happy and gracious Ms. Lamkey.
EEOC Co-Chair Cheryl Lynn Bruce, with the help of EEOC members Wydetta Carter, Ghuon "Max" Chung, Michelle Cason and Malcolm Ewen, presented 2012 Kathryn V. Lamkey Awards to three recipients. The first award went to Steppenwolf Theatre’s Casting Director and Associate Artistic Director Erica Daniels for her ongoing commitment to audition (and cast) against type and for consistently finding work for the disabled actor. The second award went to Steppenwolf Theatre’s Director of Audience Experience Evan Hatfield for his creativity in finding methods to better the theatre experience for persons with disabilities. The third award went to Lois Weisberg for her outstanding career and work as Chicago’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, a position that she gloriously held from 1989 to 2011. Under her most successful leadership, numerous programs and events were developed and created that helped and supported Chicago actors, stage managers, and artists of all types.
A special 2012 Kathryn V. Lamkey Award was presented to Central Region Business Representative Luther Goins for his ongoing work with Central Region members of color, the Central Region Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and the Members Education Committee and for his work as Actors’ Equity’s National EEO Coordinator.
The success of this year’s celebration, in no small part, was due to the dedicated members of the EEOC lead by Co-Chairs Cheryl Lynn Bruce and E. Faye Butler. Aside from planning the event, EEOC members spent hours making telephone calls to secure attendance, helped with event and room set up, volunteered to work the Members Education Table, greeted guests, presented awards and even volunteered to help with all clean up after the event.
Special thanks to Sandra Delgado, Leslie Handelman, Ariane Dolan, Richard Strimer, Ron Keaton, Mike Ward, Vickie Daignault, and Ernest Perry, Jr.