67th Anniversary Spring Luncheon to honor Six-Time Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald

March 4, 2016

New Dramatists, Tony® Honor recipient and the nation's premier playwright development laboratory, will honor six-time Tony Award winning actress, Audra McDonald with our 2016 Distinguished Achievement Award at the 67th Anniversary Spring Luncheon to be held Thursday, May 12 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

"The boundless career forged by Audra McDonald's drive to explore all the places her creative impulses lead makes her an ideal honoree for our spring luncheon."

“The seven years of support we provide to playwrights allows a unique opportunity to witness the unleashing of ambitions over time, for the many projects undertaken during their residencies and also for the very form itself. The boundless career forged by Audra McDonald's drive to explore all the places her creative impulses lead, and the passion with which she has pursued her art is kindred to the playwrights working at New Dramatists and makes her an ideal honoree for our spring luncheon,” said Emily Morse, Artistic Director of New Dramatists.

Each year, New Dramatists salutes an individual who has made an outstanding artistic contribution to the theatre community. Past luncheon honorees include Brian Stokes Mitchell, Susan Stroman, Seth Gelblum, Bernadette Peters, Roger Berlind, Julie Taymor, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, Chita Rivera, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, Glenn Close, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Jerry Herman, Terrence McNally, Barbara Cook, John Kander & Fred Ebb, August Wilson, and Gwen Verdon.

The luncheon will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis (1535 Broadway, between 45th and 46th Streets) on Thursday, May 12 beginning with a champagne reception at 11:15AM and ending promptly at 2:30PM.  Tickets are $300 (a portion of which is tax-deductible).  For tickets, visit newdramatists.org/luncheon or call New Dramatists’ director of development, Christie Brown, (212) 757-6960 ext. 5468.

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. Recipient of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015. Aside from her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV, and 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination). She returns in the 2015-16 season in Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. The Juilliard-trained soprano’s opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera. On television, she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! and played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice. She won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, having previously received nominations for Wit and A Raisin in the Sun. Other TV credits include The Good Wife, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, The Bedford Diaries, Kidnapped, and the 1999 remake of Annie. On film, she has appeared in Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, The Best Thief in the World, She Got Problems, Rampart, and, most recently, Ricki and the Flash. An exclusive recording artist for Nonesuch Records, she has released five solo albums for the label. McDonald also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. An outspoken advocate for civil rights, marriage equality, and at-risk and underprivileged youth, she sits on the boards of Covenant House International. Of her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed offstage: wife to her husband, actor Will Swenson, and mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.

New Dramatists pursues a singular mission: to provide playwrights with time, space and resources in the company of gifted peers to create work, realize their artistic potential, and make lasting contributions to the theatre.

Founded in 1949 by Michaela O’Harra in association with Howard Lindsay, Richard Rodgers, Russel Crouse, Oscar Hammerstein II, John Golden, Moss Hart, Maxwell Anderson, John Wharton, Robert E. Sherwood and Elmer Rice, New Dramatists is one of the country’s leading playwright centers and a nationally recognized new play laboratory. 

In the 67 years since our founding, over 600 new dramatists have passed through our doors, creating work that has laid the foundation for contemporary American dramatic literature. Alumni include Robert Anderson, Kia Corthron, Nilo Cruz, Horton Foote, Richard Foreman, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Quiara Alegría Hudes, David Lindsay-Abaire, Eduardo Machado, Donald Margulies, Joe Masteroff, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley, Sarah Ruhl, Mac Wellman, August Wilson, Doug Wright, and many more. 

The collective impact of New Dramatists’ playwrights on the field is evident and palpable. Current playwrights and alumni have won 19 Pulitzers (the most recent Prize awarded to alum Stephen Adly Guirgis for Between Riverside and Crazy), 25 Tonys®, 76 OBIEs, 17 Drama Desk Awards, 6 MacArthur Fellowships, and 13 Susan Smith Blackburn Awards.  New Dramatists itself received a Ross Wetzsteon Award for excellence at the 2005 OBIEs and a 2001 Tony® Honor for “blessing the theatre with new and exceptional works that have assured both a rich theatrical heritage and future for the American Theatre.”


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