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Actor-Author-Social Activist
George Takei
and PA-based Bloomsburg Theatre
Ensemble Highlight the
National Theatre Conference Awards

Brooklyn Arts Culture Also Celebrated
During NTCs NY Confab Dec. 2-4

(New York City, September 20, 2016) — The National Theatre Conference (NTC), an organization founded in 1925 that meets annually in New York to discuss relevant issues in today’s theatre community and to celebrate outstanding achievement in the American theatre, has named the recipients of its 2016 awards. George Takei, actor, author, and social activist, has been named Person of the Year; the Pennsylvania-based Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) is the recipient of the Outstanding Theatre Award; Rebecca Remaly was selected by BTE as recipient of NTC’s Emerging Professional Award; Mia Chung is the winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award for her play You For Me For You; and Mr. Takei has chosen Elena Wang as the recipient of the Paul Green Award.
Announcing this year’s awards, NTC President Risa Brainin, Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Artistic Director of UCSB’s LAUNCH PAD, stated “The NTC membership comes together once a year to share ideas and champion the work of both experienced and up and coming artists. All of our award winners are superb this year. We are especially proud to be giving the Person of the Year Award to the great artist George Takei whose life and career have been an inspiration to so many of us at NTC.”
All will be presented with their awards and hold discussions with the membership at the The Players, the legendary theatrical club, during NTC’s annual meeting in New York, Dec. 2-4, 2016.
In addition, the weekend includes a celebration of Brooklyn’s unique voice and culture in the American theatre landscape on Friday, December 2nd. The NTC membership will visit and tour the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Peter Jay Sharp Building, meet with Jeffrey Horowitz, Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience and tour the facility, and host a panel discussion at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts with representatives of some of Brooklyn’s leading theatre companies. Entitled Brooklyn, N.Y. — The Vanguard of A New Theatre Scene, the panel includes Susan Feldman, President and Artistic Director of St. Ann’s Warehouse; E. Wayne McDonald, the founding Artistic Director of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre; and Jim Niesen, Artistic Director of the Irondale Ensemble Project. Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Director of the Billie Holiday Theatre is moderating.
As NTC Board member and coordinator of the Brooklyn visit Donna Walker-Kuhne stated, “Brooklyn is such an exciting hotbed for creativity and expression. NTC's commitment to support and share voices from critical thinkers is timely and important. We are delighted to share in this vision of highlighting some of New York's hottest talent.”
Award Winner Biographies
GEORGE TAKEI (Person of the Year) is an American actor, director, author, and activist. In an acting career spanning six decades, which includes more than 40 feature films and hundreds of TV guest starring roles, Mr. Takei is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the TV series Star Trek and six Star Trek feature films. Mr. Takei and his family were among 120,000 Japanese-Americans incarcerated in U.S. internment camps during WW II, which inspired the musical Allegiance, which premiered at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre and then on Broadway starring Takei in his Broadway debut. Among current projects, he is set to play the role of Reciter in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures directed by John Doyle and opening Off Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in April 2017.
Mr. Takei’s autobiography, “To the Stars,” was published in 1994, and in 2012 and 2013 respectively, he published his second and third books, “Oh Myyy! There Goes The Internet,” and its sequel, “Lions And Tigers and Bears: The Internet Strikes Back,” both about his forays on social media and the Internet. Both books made the Amazon e-book and paperback bestseller lists in 2012 and 2013. To Be Takei, a Jennifer M. Kroot documentary on the life and career of Takei, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Actors’ Equity Association, and SAG-AFTRA. A community activist, Mr. Takei serves as Chair of the Council of Governors of East West Players, the nation’s foremost Asian Pacific American theatre. He is also a member of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender political organization. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum’s Board of Trustees; a member of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation’s Board of Directors; and served on the Board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission under President Clinton. In recognition of his contribution to the Japan-United States relationship, Mr. Takei was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in 2004.
Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (Outstanding Theatre) Their mission reflects their name — the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE). “We are dedicated, over time, to our community, to theatre as a patient but powerful instrument of understanding and social change, and to one another as artists. As a resident ensemble united by the responsibility we share for the stability and growth of our theatre, we demonstrate the viability of collective artistic direction.” Founded in 1978 in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble is an artist-driven resident ensemble creating innovative work with national, international, and local impact. BTE is a leader in the ensemble theatre movement as a co-founder of the Network of Ensemble Theaters.
Laurie McCants (Co-Founder) co-founded BTE in 1978. Her original work includes The Alexandria Carry-On, which toured Egypt, Our Shadows, co-created with Cairo-based WAMDA, Hard Coal (with James Goode), and Susquehanna. Deborah Brevoort’s Women of Lockerbie remains most cherished among her many directing experiences. Recently, she played the Gravedigger in Hamlet and Winnie in Happy Days at BTE, and she directed Battles of Fire And Water at Alaska’s Perseverance Theatre. In 2010, she was named an actor of “Distinguished Achievement” through a Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship, funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group. She’s been a member of the National Theatre Conference since 2014. Her touring solo show Industrious Angels premiered at the Ko Festival in Amherst, MA. She is currently the director for Gunpowder Joe by Anthony Clarvoe  (NTC’s 1990 Stavis Playwright), which will premiere at BTE in 2017.
Jon White-Spunner (Managing Director) is in his 11th season as Managing Director at Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. In South Africa he served as Managing Director of His Majesty’s Theatre in Johannesburg, ran a performing arts center at the University of Cape Town, and his own production company, which produced and toured shows in South Africa and Namibia. Between 1980 and 1992, Jon served as General Manager of the world famous Market Theatre. As the Market’s World Tour Manager for Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo, Jon toured to over 80 cities in 11 different countries. Since moving to the USA in 1992, in addition to his time with BTE, he served as Managing Director and Manager of Community Outreach at Stoneham Theatre in Boston. He co-founded 24th Street Theatre, now in its 20th season, in Los Angeles.
Mia Chung’s (Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award) play You for Me For You had a UK premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in December 2015 and is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. The play premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre (in association with Ma-Yi Theatre and the NEA) and subsequently produced by Company One, Portland Playhouse, and Mu Performing Arts/Guthrie
Theater. In Spring 2017, the play will run at InterAct Theatre.  Her other plays include Catch as Catch CanThis Exquisite Corpse, and Skin in the Game.  Her work has been supported by awards, commissions, fellowships, and residencies including Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, Civilians’ R&D Group, Hedgebrook, JAW, LAByrinth, Playwrights Realm, South Coast Rep, Southern Rep, Stella Adler Studio, and TCG.  She is a member of New Dramatists, Ma-Yi’s Writers Lab, and Huntington Theatre’s Playwright Fellows. She attended Yale; University of Dublin, Trinity College; and Brown.
Rebecca Ramaly (Emerging Professional Award) is Managing Director of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (BETC), which she co-founded in 2006. Entering its 11th season, BETC has grown from scratch to a robust, award-winning, professional theatre with an operating budget exceeding $500K. In 2015, Rebecca accepted BETC’s National Theatre Company Award from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. Directing credits with BETC include Cyrano, Outside Mullingar, The Aliens, Annapurna (2014 True West Award, Best Production), Mauritius, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf (2011 Daily Camera Eye Award, Best Comedy), The Clean House, Copenhagen, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Savage in Limbo, and the world premiere of Morisot Reclining (Henry Award Nomination, Best New Play 2009). Sometimes an actor, Rebecca appeared in the BETC productions Stupid F##king Bird (Mash), Doubt (Sister James), Stop Kiss (Sara), The Glass Menagerie (Laura) and Antigone (Ismene). Prior to moving to Colorado, Rebecca worked at several East Coast theatre companies, including Manhattan Theatre Club, George Street Playhouse, and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.
Elena Wang (Paul Green Award) has worked as an actor in Australia, London, Singapore, and the U.S. In London, Elena performed in The King and I with Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 5 O) at the Royal Albert Hall. While performing in Singapore, she won Elle magazine’s “Breakout Star of the Year” for her lead roles in Beauty World (Ivy) and Snow White (Snow White). Her work in the States includes the role of Kim in Miss Saigon (L.A.) and as Nan/Kei Kimura in Allegiance on Broadway. She has a B.A. in Musical Theatre (Singapore) and an M.F.A. in Film (NYFA/L.A.).
Brooklyn Artist Biographies
Dr. Indira Etwaroo is a non-profit arts leader, educator, and scholar, and has worked with institutions across the world. Indira’s passion is exploring the complex intersections between community, performing arts and the topics-of-our-time. Indira has received many honors for her work, including being named one of the “40 under 40” National Black Leaders by The Network Journal. 
Susan Feldman is the President and Artistic Director of St. Ann’s Warehouse.  She has built a career activating found spaces and turning them into cultural destinations, starting with the adaptive re-use of the landmark church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity in association with the NY Landmarks Conservancy and World Monuments Fund. Since then, St. Ann’s Warehouse has become a vital international presenter on New York City’s cultural landscape. The crowning achievement of Susan’s career was building a permanent home for St. Ann’s in an historic Tobacco Warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront. The year-round cultural center and community hub in the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in the Fall of 2015.
E. Wayne McDonald is the founding artistic director of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre and Artist in Residence at the Caribbean Research Center — Medgar Evers College (CUNY). He has consciously sought, facilitated and mounted work that interrogates the Caribbean. He earned an Outstanding Director nomination from the AUDELCO Awards for Excellence in Black Theater. He has studied at the Jamaica School of Drama, the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and holds a MA from the NY Institute of Technology. He is also the founder and curator of the Poets and Passions literary series.
Jim Niesen has served as the Irondale Ensemble Project’s Artistic Director since the theatre’s founding in 1983, directing more than 60 productions. Over the course of his tenure Jim has evolved Irondale’s style from wildly improvised original works to daring reimagining of major classics. What has remained constant in the theatre’s evolution is the use of the permanent ensemble, actors working together on a daily basis — often for many years. He is a 38-year resident of Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood and is listed in Whos Who in America. 
Jeffrey Horowitz is the Founder and Artistic Director of Theatre For A New Audience.
Since the company’s founding in 1979, he has produced 24 of Shakespeare’s plays, Greek, Jacobean, and Italian classical drama and contemporary classics. Under his leadership, TFANA has grown from a touring theatre into one of New York’s leading classical theatres with nationally recognized programs. Horowitz has served on the Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts and on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group. He is currently on the Advisory Board of The Shakespeare Society, the Artistic Directorate of London’s Globe Theatre, and the Artistic Advisor to the Shakespeare Globe Centre (USA). He has participated in numerous panels on Shakespeare’s plays including, most recently, Symposia at The Public Theater, SSD&C, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” For his work with Theatre for a New Audience, he has been awarded The Acting Company’s John Houseman Award and the Breukelein Institute’s Gaudium Award.
The NATIONAL THEATRE CONFERENCE is an organization founded in 1925 that meets annually in New York City to celebrate outstanding achievement in the American Theatre. Membership is limited to no more than 150 distinguished leaders from the professional and academic theatre who serve as a “think tank” dedicated to the continued development of theatre in this country. In addition to awards recognizing and celebrating excellence in the theatre, the NTC works actively to promote positive change in the American theatre.
Contact: Sherry Eaker at; or call 917-239-5467.
For information regarding the National Theatre Conference, go to
NTC 2016
RISA BRAININ           16
DAVID FULLER          16
JENI MAHONEY        17
BENNY AMBUSH               16
JERRY GENOCHIO           18
ANITA GONZALEZ  ​​           17
SHARON OTT                    16

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