Dirk van Allen, an accomplished actor and tireless theatre advocate, has been named the recipient of Actors’ Equity’s prestigious 2005 Lucy Jordan Award. Mr. van Allen received the award at the Equity membership meeting in Los Angeles on October 7, 2005.
Among the past recipients of the Lucy Jordan Award are: CTG/Mark Taper Forum Founding Director Gordon Davidson, Actor/WRB member Joseph Ruskin, and noted stage actor Iggy Wolfington. The Award was started in 1992 to honor the legacy of Lucy Finney Jordan, a former ballerina and chorus performer who, for many years, was the “face” of Actors’ Equity in the Western Region as the Union’s Outside Field Rep. According to Equity Western Regional Director John Holly, the award is given to those who demonstrate a “a lifetime commitment to the theatre and especially, helping other theatre artists.”
Dirk van Allen amusingly describes his career as a “checkered past”: He served for 20+ years in the US Navy (retired Commander), and has a second career as a successful financial advisor. But he has always been in love with the theatre. His father, a well-known medical doctor, studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and toured the country in a production of Green Goddess with George Arliss. Dirk’s union roots go back to Chattanooga, TN, where, at the age of 16, he joined the Musicians Union and played tenor saxophone in Maurice Bales’ dance band. He started acting in junior and senior class plays in high school, continued acting in college productions at Centre College (Danville, KY) under the direction of Dr. West T. Hill, and did summer stock in Kentucky and community theatre in Virginia and Texas.
Landing in Austin, Dirk started his professional acting career at the Live Oak Theatre in Austin, becoming a member of that theater's company which eventually "morphed" into The State Theater Company. He got his Equity card in 1992. Dirk has since performed with the Capital City Playhouse, the Zach Scott Theater Center, St. Edward's University, and is a company member of The Austin Shakespeare Festival. He is a founding company member and has just completed a four-year term as the first President of the Board of Directors of Don Toner's Austin Playhouse where he is currently in a production of A Man for All Seasons. He has been nominated for several Austin Critics' Table and B. Iden Payne Awards, and served on a peer review panel for the City of Austin for its arts funding program.
“As an actor, Dirk is a consummate professional, always prepared and full of creative fire,” said Equity member Ev Lunning, Jr., Artistic Director of Austin’s Mary Moody Northern Theatre.
Similar praise comes from other peers: Stage Manager/Equity Liaison Committee Chair Bill McMillin: “Dirk has been intimately involved in the Austin theatre over 25 years and helped such theatres as the Live Oak, the State Theatre and Austin Playhouse to get off the ground. As an active member of the Equity Liaison Committee, he helped to implement the Equity Umbrella Agreement, which has brought more jobs to local Equity actors and Stage Managers. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and an important voice in our theatre community.”
Don Toner, Artistic Director of the Austin Playhouse added: “Dirk van Allen is an accomplished actor, a dedicated theatre professional, and a steadfast friend. His determination and hard work have paid great dividends to himself, his many admirers, and to those of us who have enjoyed the pleasure of his company for many seasons.”
“I am honored to receive the Lucy Jordan Award,” said van Allen. “To take rank with the prior awardees is not only serendipitous but un-imagined. If I have made a contribution to the acting/theatre community it is but a reflex reaction to the rewards it has given me. Although my 'day job' careers have been rewarding and satisfying it is the men, women and children with whom I've had an association in theatre that have made this career a treasured enrichment. Those people as a group are truly the nicest folks with whom I have ever worked.”