On Friday April 8, 2011, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA) received Actors' Equity Association's 2011 Rosetta LeNoire Award. The Award was presented in a special ceremony to SCLA Founder and Artistic Director Ben Donenbergduring the Western Membership meeting in Los Angeles.
The Rosetta LeNoire Award, established in 1988, recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American Theater. The Award is given to an individual, theater or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of ethnic minorities, female actors and actors with disabilities through multi-racial and/or non-traditional casting.
Upon receiving the Award, Donenberg said: "To fulfill Shakespeare's vision for his plays, it's critical for our productions to hold the mirror up to the history, landscape and people Los Angeles. For us to fulfill our mission and provide full access to these plays, we must make artistic choices, particularly casting choices, that reflect the essence of our community. It's an amazing honor to receive this recognition from Equity and it's deeply appreciated."
In 1986, The Shakespeare Center, operating as Shakespeare Festival/LA, presented its first professional, union-contracted festival. Throughout its 25 year history, SCLA has created accessible theater that reflects the people, history and landscape of Los Angeles and follows a casting policy that reflects the rich diversity of Los Angeles. The SCLA demonstrates that such casting is critical to its mission by providing Actors of color the opportunity to perform in roles that are diverse and non-traditional while also providing the audience to an opportunity to see themselves reflected in and make meaningful connections to classical texts.
In addition to its stage productions, The Shakespeare Center offers The Will Power series that provide youth enrichment and engagement programs. The Will Power to Youth is an academic enrichment program that combines hands-on artistic experience with paid job training, specifically created to provide arts education to at-risk youth. The Will Power to Schools program provides middle and high school teachers innovative, proven methods that improve literacy, change the way they teach classical literature and makes Shakespeare accessible to urban public school students. The Will to Lead provides advanced leadership and job readiness training and The Will to Work places 5 to 10 alumni into internships with SCLA's mainstage/repertory actors and technicians.