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60th Annual Obie Awards Honors James Houghton With Special Award for Sustained Achievement

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J A M E S   H O U G H T O N



6 0 T H   A N N U A L   O B I E   A W A R D S





New York, NY (May 14, 2015)—The American Theatre Wing and the Village Voice are thrilled to announce that James Houghton, the Founding Artistic Director of Signature Theatre, will receive a special OBIE Award® for Sustained Achievement at the 60th Annual OBIE Awards, which will be held on Monday, May 18, 2015 at Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street). Tickets to the 2015 OBIE Awards are now available via www.ObieAwards.com

As was previously announced, OBIE Award-winning actress Lea DeLaria, Screen Actors Guild® Award-winning star of “Orange is the New Black”, will host this year’s OBIE Awards. The American Theatre Wing has entered into a partnership with the Village Voice to co-present The OBIE Awards, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor. The OBIE Awards judging panel was led by longtime OBIE Committee Chairman Michael Feingold and included playwright Adam Bock, orchestrator Bruce Coughlin, director Lear deBessonet, scenic designer Mimi Lien, critic David Rooney, Village Voice critic Tom Sellar, and director Liesl Tommy.

James Houghton is the Founding Artistic Director of Signature Theatre, the first nonprofit theatre company in the United States to devote each season of productions to the work of a single living playwright. Under his leadership, Signature recently opened the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center, featuring three theatres, two rehearsal spaces and public lobby with café, bar and bookstore, and expanded programming including two additional playwrights’ residency programs.  Signature and its artists have received many accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, and Outer Critics Circle Awards. In 2003, Signature was named “National Theatre of the Year” by the National Theatre Conference. In 2014, Signature Theatre became the first Off-Broadway theatre to be honored with the Regional Tony Award. Since 2006, Mr. Houghton has also served as the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at The Juilliard School. To enhance the program, Mr. Houghton and the Drama Division initiated significant new programming and opportunities for students. Among these opportunities are a new Master of Fine Arts Program, which offers free tuition and a living stipend during the fourth and final year of training; the introduction of a Playwrights Festival featuring performances of plays written by students of the renowned Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program; and a bridge to the profession through the creation of the Professional Studio hosted by Signature Theatre, allowing Juilliard’s actors and writers to collaborate closely and build lasting artistic relationships. Mr. Houghton has been honored by The Acting Company with the 2012 John Houseman Award for his profound commitment to developing American actors and building a diverse audience for the theatre, as well as the William Inge Festival’s 1998 Margo Jones Medal for an outstanding contribution to the American theatre. In 2013, he was inducted into the College of the Fellows of the American Theatre and presented with an honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts by his alma mater, Santa Clara University. Mr. Houghton has also served as the Artistic Director of the O’Neill Playwrights Conference (1999-2003), Artistic Director of the New Harmony Project (1996-1999), and the Artistic Advisor to the Guthrie Theater (1998-2012).

The Village Voice and the American Theatre Wing are grateful to the following sponsors and partners for their support of The OBIE Awards: Athletics, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Casa Nonna, Clear Channel Spectacolor, The Howard Gilman Foundation, The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Stella Artois, and The Trine Group.

For more information, visit www.ObieAwards.com.

The Village Voice created The OBIE Awards, at the urging of then editor Jerry Tallmer, soon after the publication's own inception in 1955, to encourage the newly burgeoning Off Broadway theater movement and to acknowledge its achievements. The OBIES are structured with informal categories, to recognize artists and productions worthy of distinction in each theatrical year. Over the decades, the OBIE Awards have played a major role in the Voice’s long history of championing work of innovative and exceptional quality Off and Off-Off Broadway.  The Village Voice put the new downtown theater movement on the map with its in-depth coverage, becoming a forum for conflicting viewpoints which helped generate excitement over new works and new approaches to theater-making. The OBIES have become a theatrical tradition, a meaningful way to acknowledge the best artistic achievements of downtown theater.  The list of actors, writers, directors, and designers who have received OBIES at pivotal moments in their careers is a virtual who's who of contemporary theater. While the categories of the awards have continued to change almost annually, the creative spirit remains the same. The OBIE Awards continue to salute a theatrical movement that's as important, and as vibrant, today as it was in 1955.

The American Theatre Wing (William Ivey Long, Chairman, Board of Trustees; Heather Hitchens, President) is dedicated to advancing artistic excellence and nurturing theatre’s next generation: on the stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience. For nearly a century, the Wing has pursued this mission with programs that span the nation to invest in the growth and evolution of American Theatre. Traditionally, the Wing has encouraged members of the theatre community to share their off-stage time and talent directly with the theatre audience at large–whether it was singing for the troops in the Stage Door Canteen of the 1940's, or sharing their stories on a podcast today.  As the founders of The Tony Awards®, the American Theatre Wing has developed the foremost national platform for the recognition of theatrical achievement on Broadway. Yet the Wing's reach extends beyond Broadway and beyond New York. The Wing develops the next generation of theatre professionals through the SpringboardNYC and Theatre Intern Network programs, incubates innovative theatre across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, fosters the song of American theatre through the Jonathan Larson Grants, honors the best in New York theatrical design with the Henry Hewes Design Award, and illuminates the creative process through the “Working in the Theatre” program and media archive. The American Theatre Wing has also entered into a long-term partnership with The Village Voice to co-present The OBIE Awards, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor, beginning this year, which will mark the Award’s 60th Anniversary in May 2015.  Visitors to americantheatrewing.org can get inspired and gain insight into the artistic process through the Wing’s extensive media collection, and learn more about its programming for students, aspiring and working professionals, and audiences.  Follow the Wing on Facebook.com/TheAmericanTheatreWing and Twitter.com/TheWing.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2015, the Village Voice proudly carries on the tradition of passionate, high-spirited journalism it introduced to New York readers in 1955.  The recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, the nation’s first alternative weekly remains a vigilant investigative watchdog and a go-to source for coverage of New York’s vast cultural landscape in the digital age.  The Voice’s in-depth news writing and incisive arts, culture, music, film, and theater criticism provide readers with an indispensable perspective on the workings of the world’s most vibrant city.  Updated throughout the day, the Voice’s website, www.villagevoice.com, has twice been recognized as one of the nation’s premier online sites for journalistic quality and local content.  The site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award and Editor & Publisher’s Eppy Award for Best Overall U.S. Weekly Newspaper Online.  The Village Voice has independently produced and created such celebrated events as Choice Eats, 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Streets, Brooklyn Pour, and Holiday Spirits, as well as the most anticipated special issues of the year, including the annual Pazz and Jop music critics’ poll and the Best of NYC™.

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