The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival will honor six women for their exceptional career and life achievements in its Opening Night Champagne Gala and Awards Ceremony on March 24, 2016 at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice, CA 90291. The deserving honorees who have made laudable contributions to the world of theatre are listed here:
Ana Maria Alvarez will receive the Rainbow Award, bestowed on an artist or individual for her diverse contributions in fostering non-traditional and multi-cultural theatre works. Ana Maria Alvarez is a Cuban-American choreographer, known for her daring, multidimensional and boundary blurring choreography. Alvarez received a BA in Dance and Politics from Oberlin College and received her MFA in Choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. Her thesis work, which explored the abstraction of “Latin Dance”, specifically Salsa, as a way to express social resistance within the US immigration battle, eventually became the impetus for founding CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theater Company in 2005. Her work has continued to pulse at the intersection of dance theater and social transformation. “I Dream America” (2007) explores Black and Latino histories; “Full Still Hungry” (2011) looks at the politics of consumption; and her most recent work “Agua Furiosa” (2016) examines race and environment. Alvarez is regularly invited to speak about and teach her work nationally and internationally, including representing the United States and Los Angeles at Internationale Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf, Germany and at the BAM/U.S. State Department's DanceMotionUSA tour through South America. She is currently an artist in residence at UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance and was recently commissioned by HeritageWorks to create two original new works for artists in Detroit.
Also receiving the Rainbow Award this year is Dr. Chantal Rodriguez. Chantal Rodriguez, Ph.D. is the Programming Director/Literary Manager for the Latino Theater Company, operators of the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) in downtown L.A. Since 2009 she has produced many seasons of culturally diverse work at the LATC including Encuentro 2014, the largest Latino Theatre Festival in over 25 years. Dr. Rodriguez is also a lecturer at several local universities and is currently teaching at UCLA and Emerson College, Los Angeles. She is a scholar in the field of Theatre and Performance Studies with a specialization in U.S. Latino Theatre and Performance. Her work has been published in Theatre Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, e-misférica and Theatre Research International. In 2011, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press published her monograph, “The Latino Theatre Initiative/Center Theatre Group Papers,” which was nominated for three Latino Literacy Now International Book Awards. Recognized as a Young Leader of Color by Theatre Communications Group, Dr. Rodriguez is also a Steering Committee member of the National Latina/o Theatre Commons, and was a finalist for Center Theatre Group's 2016 Richard E. Sherwood Award.
Sandra Evers-Manly will be the recipient of the Integrity Award, presented to an artist or individual who has brought credibility and dignity to her work. A former president of the Beverly Hills Hollywood NACP, she oversaw the NAACP Image Awards as well as the NAACP Theater Awards. She also supports the Ebony Repertory Theatre and the Los Angeles Mark Taper Theatre Education Program. Ms. Evers-Manly is the founding President of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) which for the past 22 years has sponsored the African American Film Marketplace and S.E.Manly Short Film Showcase, “Sisters are Doin' It For Themselves” and “Real Black Men” Film Festivals as well as the Los Angeles Youth Diversity Film Festival. She is the Executive Producer of the highly-acclaimed documentary, "Agents of Change", as well as the Academy-nominated short film, "Last Breeze of Summer". In addition, she is the Executive Producer of five short films on the impact of gang violence, and recently developed the animated series, "Imani, the Super Little Engineer", which introduces girls and students of color to engineering and STEM fields. Ms.Evers-Manly has been recognized by the Brother Crusade, the Anti-Defamation League, Our Authors Study Club, and Justice Unity Generosity Service, Inc. for her community service and has received recognition from a number of other organizations. She is a noted speaker and a graduate of the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in public administration.
Eloise Laws will be bestowed with the Eternity Award, given to an artist or individual whose lifetime achievements have made a lasting contribution to the world of theatre. Eloise Laws, known to her fans simply as "El", is a world renowned Broadway actress, singer, and author with more than 30 years in the entertainment industry. She is critically acclaimed for her harmonious jazz, soul and R&B music. Laws' voice has resonated through continents with her signature, unique vocals, amazing musical expertise and easy-going style. Her superlative lyrics have been featured in songs like "Love Comes Easy", "Love Factory" You're Incredible and" Stay with Me". These all are documented as her incredible and unforgotten work in a great history of melodious jazz, blues and soulful R&B Music. Laws’ musical career has bestowed upon us more than 5 Albums and CDs, as well as a career in the Theatre where she featured in and co-developed the musical, "It Ain’t Nothin’ ,but the Blues", which premiered at the Denver Center Theatre Company and opened on Broadway at the Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre. This stellar, astonishing and stylish performance acknowledged four (4) Tony nominations considered a great addition to her majestic portfolio. Laws also received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Broadway musical, and a Helen Hayes Award Nomination for her stunning performance at the Kennedy Center. Eloise Laws has never ceased creating extraordinary music. She continues to perform at sites worldwide, including Japan where she performed at the Cotton Club alongside her brother Hubert, Ronnie Laws and sister Debra Laws. She was bestowed the esteemed Cherry Blossom Award at the Tokyo Music Festival. She continues perform music festivals around the world including the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Long Beach Jazz Festival and many others. When performing on stage, Laws commands a presence like that of no other. She melts the crowd's hearts, grabs their attention and holds their heart with her passionate unique vocal. Eloise Laws is a legendary songstress who continues to anoint music lovers and music connoisseurs with her amazing voice.
Marja-Lewis Ryan will receive the Maverick Award, presented to an artist or individual whose work has set a high standard of individuality and self-styled creativity. Marja-Lewis Ryan (Writer/Director/Producer) holds an Honors BFA in theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied at The Atlantic Theater Company. 2011: She wrote, produced and starred in her play Dysnomia (Ovation nomination for Playwriting). 2014: Ryan made her directorial debut with her play One in the Chamber (Winner: Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Writing, and for Best Actress Heidi Sulzman; Ovation nomination for Playwriting). 2015: Ryan directed and produced the L.A. Premiere of David Mamet’s The Anarchist starring Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon. One in the Chamber ran in Washington, D.C. through the Forum Theater, and she directed the play’s workshop off-Broadway at The Atlantic Theater Company. She wrote, directed and produced her most recent play A Good Family (TimeOut LA’s Best World Premiere Play of 2015) for which filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov served as executive producer. 2016: Ryan is in development on her original pilot for Executive Producer Channing Tatum for HBO.
Elizabeth Pena is this year’s recipient of the Infinity Award, memorializing exceptional achievements of a theatre artist. Daughter of the founders of the Latin American Theatre Ensemble, she was destined to be an actor. She was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). Although known for her work in television (Tough Cookies, Shannon’s Deal, I Married Dora, Resurrection Blvd.) and feature films (Jacob’s Ladder, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Lone Star, La Bamba), she also had extensive stage credits, mostly in New York. Her stage work included roles in Act One and Only, Antigone, Blood Wedding, Night of the Assassins, Italian-American Reconciliation, Bring on the Night, and more. She toured as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Ms. Pena passed away in October, 2014.
The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival was founded by Executive Producer Adilah Barnes and Miriam Reed.
The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival is a non-profit organization. The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival organization is made possible this year in part by the City of West Hollywood, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Department of Cultural Affairs of Los Angeles, City National Bank, City of Culver City, KPFK 90.7 and Adilah Barnes Productions.
Admission to the Gala on March 24, 2016 at 7 p.m. is $50 or two tickets for $90 (includes light fare and champagne). For the other programs, ticket prices this year include general admission single show tickets at $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Students, seniors and groups of ten or more, $18. Children 12 and under, $10.
Reservations: (818) 760-0408. Online reservations will be available at http://www.lawtf.org . To join and follow LAWTF on Facebook and Twitter, click on their links at http://www.lawtf.org