Joseph Haj and the Guthrie Theater and Ten Thousand Things Theater (Michelle Hensley, artistic director) were co-recipients for the 2017 Rosetta LeNoire Award. The Award, established in 1988, recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American Theatre. The Award is given to an individual, theater or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of people of color, women and actors with disabilities through diverse and inclusive casting. Equity Executive Director Mary McColl presented the award to Joseph Haj and the Guthrie Theater on August 11 and to Ten Thousand Things Theater on August 14.
“We are thrilled to be acknowledging, as co-winners of this year’s Rosetta LeNoire Award, the work of astounding Twin Cities theatre makers Joseph Haj and the Guthrie Theater and Ten Thousand Things Theater Company,” says Equity’s National Equal Employment Opportunity Chair Christine Toy Johnson. “Though at first glance they may seem like polar opposites as far as their approaches to the physical manifestations of their productions go, what is most moving to me is their shared profound commitment to creating extraordinary, diverse and inclusive theatre that expands the American landscape of storytelling and the ways in which they reach their communities.”
“For more than 20 years, Ten Thousand Things Theater has stood at the forefront of inclusive casting practices, creating vibrant, vital and deeply meaningful productions with artists that reflect the ever increasing diversity of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the entire state of Minnesota,” said EEO Committee Member Sid Solomon, who nominated the company. “Their mission of serving those with the least access to the arts has bettered the lives of both audiences and artists alike, and the Twin Cities theatre community is all the better for it. I can think of no more fitting tribute to Artistic Director Michelle Hensley than for Actors’ Equity to bestow this important award upon TTT at the beginning of her final season with the company.”
Johnson, who nominated Haj and the Guthrie, has worked at the Minnesota theater several times. “In his first two seasons as Artistic Director of the Guthrie, Joseph Haj has already transformed this world-class theater into a diverse and inclusive world-class theater through his shift in programming and his mandates to populate the theater’s casts, creative teams and behind-the-scenes staff with more women artists and artists of color,” says Johnson. “He is the kind of leader that we look towards when seeking to bolster our optimism about the future of the American theatre: someone who sets out to make change and then does it, with the utmost grace, generosity and kindness.”