Four Shakespeare & Company Artists Honored This Month

Posted May 4, 2009


{Lenox, Mass.}—It’s a season of recognition for Shakespeare & Company, with four longtime Company artists set to receive special honors this month.

Company Founder and Artistic Director Tina Packer recently received the American Shakespeare Center’s “Burbage Award” for her lifetime of work in the international Shakespeare community, and is also receiving an honorary degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Elizabeth Aspenlieder is nominated for a 2009 Elliot Norton Award for “Outstanding Solo Performance” for her performance in Bad Dates at Shakespeare & Company and Merrimack Repertory Company. Annette Miller is nominated for “Outstanding Actress” at a small or midsize theatre company for her performance in Martha Mitchell Calling at the Nora Theatre Company, in a role she originated in the play’s world premiere at S&Co. in 2006. Company Founder and Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman earned the prestigious “Distinguished Arts Educator Award” in the field of theatre, bestowed annually by the Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative.

Tina Packer, S&Co.’s Founder and Artistic Director, recently received the second-ever Burbage Award, given by the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia for her lifetime of service to the international Shakespeare community. “Tina is a force to be reckoned with as one of the country’s foremost experts on Shakespeare and theatre arts,” said ASC Managing Director David Dreyfoos, who presented the Burbage Award to Packer at a ceremony held at the Blackfriars Playhouse on April 25. “She is a consummate visionary, actor, manager, advocate for the arts, a true original, and one of a kind. Plus, she has the most wickedly wonderful laugh in the world.” Packer will also receive an honorary degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday, May 16 at a ceremony in Boston. She will be joined by fellow recipients Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot (pioneering social scientist, author, and longtime Harvard University faculty member), Marc Brown (author and illustrator of the much-loved Arthur children’s books) and Luba Lukova (world-renowned graphic designer and artist). Packer’s “leadership in making theatre more accessible to young and old alike has drawn national recognition to Shakespeare & Company,” says Martha McKenna, Provost of Lesley University, in a written statement. Recognized by more than 20 awards, honors and fellowships, Packer has won two Elliot Norton Awards as well as The Commonwealth Award, the state’s highest cultural honor, and both Guggenheim and Bunting Fellowships. She has directed nearly every Shakespeare play in the canon. Her book, Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership was published in 2000 and Tales from Shakespeare, a re-telling of Shakespeare plays for young people, came out in 2004 and won the Parents’ Choice Award.

The Elliot Norton Awards are the highest recognition for work in the Greater Boston theatre world. In the category of “Outstanding Solo Performance,” Elizabeth Aspenlieder is joined by fellow nominees Nancy E. Carroll (The Year of Magical Thinking at Lyric Stage Company of Boston) and Ken Howard (According to Tip at New Repertory Theatre). Bad Dates was written by Theresa Rebeck, and this production was directed by Adrianne Krstansky. It proved both a critical and box office hit as it pioneered the first-ever winter season at S&Co. at the new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. Later this season, Aspenlieder will be directed by Packer in a production of Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), opening at the Bernstein Theatre in January 2010. Aspenlieder also serves as S&Co.’s Director of Publicity and Playbill Advertising.

In the category “Outstanding Actress” for a small or midsize theatre company, longtime S&Co. actress Annette Miller is joined by nominees Marianna Bassham (Blackbird at SpeakEasy Stage Company) and Georgia Lyman (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Lyric Stage Company of Boston and Look Back in Anger by Orfeo Group). Martha Mitchell Calling was written by Jody Rothe and directed by S&Co. artist Daniela Varon. Since its very successful world premiere at S&Co., it has been re-mounted in celebrated productions at Stageworks/Hudson and Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, in addition to the Nora Theatre production. This year’s Elliot Norton Awards ceremony takes place at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre on Monday, May 11, 7:00pm. Tickets are $15 and available at the Harvard Box Office, Holyoke Center, in Harvard Square, 617-496-2222,

Kevin G. Coleman, S&Co.’s Director of Education, receives the “Distinguished Arts Educator Award” at the Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative’s annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 27 at 1:15pm at the Gardiner Auditorium of the Massachusetts State House, Beacon Street at Park Street in Boston. In addition to his work as an actor, director, Training Program faculty member at S&Co. and workshop engagements around the country, Coleman built up the Education Program into a much-emulated roster of programs that touches the lives of some 50,000 students every year. Initiatives launched under Coleman’s leadership include Shakespeare in the Courts, recipient of a 2006 Coming Up Taller Award at the White House, and the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, which engages students at about ten high schools annually and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008.

Back to Gail Sez home.