Peter C. Brosius, Cheryl L. West, and Akeelah and the Bee win American Alliance for Theatre and Education Awards

Each year, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) honors innovative, high quality work that advances the field of theatre for young audiences. AATE is dedicated to transforming communities by promoting theatre for young audiences (TYA) and increasing access to theatre experiences. They “envision a time when the full spectrum of theatre arts becomes a pervasive part of our landscape.” Recipients of AATE Awards have made significant contributions to the theatre community and are widely recognized as creators of outstanding work.

Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is proud to announce that Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius has received AATE’s 2016 Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award, which acknowledges an individual who has accomplished meritorious achievement in the field of theatre for young audiences and whose body of work is extensive and widely commended. Brosius was recommended for the award by Teresa Eyring, Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group; Barry Kornhauser, a playwright of Reeling, Madeline and the Gypsies, and Balloonacy at CTC and an eminent figure in TYA; and G.W. Mercier, an award-winning set, puppet and costume designer who has worked with CTC on Alice in Wonderland and Bert and Ernie Goodnight! and collaborated with Brosius on Finding Nemo at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Mercier lauds Brosius as “outstanding in his passion to create exceptional theatre that is in no way reduced or simplified because it is for a young audience” and notes, “I have seen countless young imaginations transformed due to Peter’s respect for them and passion for making good theatre.”

In reference to Brosius’ directing, Kornhauser states, “His rehearsals are exceptionally productive, motivating, and even joyful. He encourages bold exploration and risk-taking, and everyone is willing to give that a go, to take chances, because he inspires confidence and trust.  Even the normal stresses one expects in rehearsal are largely alleviated by the warmth and humor he brings into the room.”

During Brosius’ tenure with CTC, the theatre company has seen the creation of Neighborhood Bridges, a nationally-recognized literacy program which uses storytelling and creative drama to help children develop their critical literacy skills, as well as Theatre Arts Training, an education program that is designed to mold the next generation of theatre professionals. Under Brosius, CTC has also developed ACT One, a cohesive platform for access, diversity, and inclusion for audiences, programs, staff, and board. ACT One aims to make CTC a home for all people and families, reflective of the community. 

Additionally, Brosius created Threshold, a play development lab at CTC that has commissioned and developed almost 40 new plays since its inception. This tremendous amount of new play development led to the creation of the Plays for Young Audiences program, CTC’s script licensing program, which serves as a catalyst to drive the field of theatre for young people to new heights.

AATE also honored Cheryl L. West with the 2016 Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award. This award recognizes her outstanding full body of work, including Akeelah and the Bee and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, both of which were commissioned by and first performed at CTC. West was endorsed by Elissa Adams, CTC’s Director of New Play Development; Molly Smith, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s Artistic Director; and Karen Sharp, Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Managing Director. Adams notes, “Cheryl has created a canon of work for young audiences that is sophisticated, powerful, and celebrates the inherent strength and potential young people have to shape their experiences and the world around them.”

Akeelah and the Bee also won AATE’s 2016 Distinguished Play Award, Category D. In order to win this award, plays must demonstrate “superiority in execution, delineation of characters, theatricality, and appropriateness of style.” Award-winning plays are also understandable and relatable to young people, while encouraging them to stretch their perspectives and to grow both emotionally and imaginatively. Akeelah and the Bee, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, was commissioned by and premiered at CTC in the fall of 2015 before traveling to Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and playing at that theatre during the 2015 holiday season.

Winners of 2016 AATE Awards will be recognized at the AATE Annual Conference, which will occur in Boston from July 27-31.