2011 – Cree Rankin, Michelle T. Boone and Kathryn V. Lamkey

Kathryn Lamkey accepts her award alongside Cheryl Lynn Bruce and E. Faye Butler

The Central Region Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) presented the annual Spirit, a Celebration of Diversity on Monday, March 21, 2011 at Chicago’s Smart Museum and at the Court Theatre.

Spirit, a Celebration of Diversity, honors Central Region members of color, minority-based and focused theatres, and theatres that make non-traditional casting a priority all season long.

EEOC Co-Chairs Cheryl Lynn Bruce and E. Faye Butler presented the 2011 Spirit Recognition Award to Court Theatre’s Cree Rankin for his educational outreach work and his ongoing commitment to minority-based theatre, and to Joyce Foundation Senior Program Officer Michelle T. Boone, for her minority-based theatre mentorship, and her campaign for minority-based theatre leadership training.

Central Regional Director Kathryn V. Lamkey received a special Spirit Recognition Award. Ms. Lamkey, for over 24 years, has placed a high priority on racial understanding, support and the creation of opportunities (nationally) for Producers and members of color.

When it comes to opportunities for members of color to audition and work, the Central Region boasts an embarrassment of riches. The Chicago theatre community includes many theatres that highlight the diversity of our culture such as About Face, Black Ensemble, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Shakespeare, Collaboraction, Court, Congo Square, Goodman, Illinois Theatre Center, Pegasus Players, Remy Bumppo, Silk Road Theatre Project, 16th Street Theatre, Steppenwolf, Teatro Vista, Teatro Luna, Urban Theatre Company, Victory Gardens and Writer’s Theatre.

In the Central Region, but outside of the office city, diversity is seen at theatres such as Detroit Repertory, Cincinnati’s Ensemble Theatre Company, Milwaukee’s Hansberry-Sands and the newly-formed Uprooted Theatre Company, Human Race in Dayton, Ohio, Mixed Blood and Penumbra in Minneapolis, St. Louis Black Repertory and the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City.

The EEO: One Voice brand, which was adopted by the Western, Central, and Eastern EEO Committees in 2009, was highlighted and celebrated by the performance of "One Voice," a terrific song by Butch Stewart. "One Voice" was performed by the Central Region AFTRA/SAG Singers (Greta Pope, Paul Zimmerman, Joe Wright, Barbara Ann Martin and Kevin Smith).

With the recent sad, and shocking, happenings in Madison, WI, we felt that having the AFTRA/SAG Singers open this very special Equity event would be a fitting tribute to unions and to union work. It was!