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The 16th Annual 
Otto René Castillo Awards
for Political Theatre
were celebrated on Sunday,
May 18, 2014
at the Castillo Theatre


A sold-out house celebrated the 2014 Otto recipients along with award presenters, Oskar Eustis of the Public Theater, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, drag performer Jomama Jones, Brad Burgess of the Living Theater, and Georgiana Pickett of Baryshnikov Arts Center. Remarks were also made by Gabrielle L. Kurlander, president and CEO of the All Stars Project, and Dr. Lenora Fulani, co-founder of the All Stars Project and director of Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids.

The 2014 Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre were presented to:  

Ping Chong & Company  was founded in 1975 by Chinese American theatrical innovator Ping Chong with the mission to create works of theater and art that explore the intersections of race, culture, history, art, media and technology in the modern world. Today the company produces original works by a close-knit ensemble of affiliated artists, under the artistic leadership of Ping Chong. Productions range from intimate oral history projects to grand scale cinematic multidisciplinary productions featuring puppets, performers, and full music and projection scores. The art reveals beauty, precision, and a commitment to social justice. Among the most influential and political of Ping Chong’s work is Undesirable Elements, an ongoing series of community-specific interview-based theater works examining issues of culture and identity of individuals who are outsiders within their mainstream community. It's not a traditional play or documentary-theater project performed by actors. Instead, each production is made with a local host organization and local, non-professional participants.

  creates ensemble-driven works that defy expectations of how stories can be told in the theater; maintains a consistent core ensemble, collaborating regularly with an expanding community of artists; and is dedicated to producing risky, humorous, and heartfelt new plays that illuminate the human condition. CTown has produced 11 original full-length productions including: The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos (The New Ohio Theatre, NYC), The Momentum (Guild Hall, Watermill, NY; FringeArts Festival, Philadelphia, NY; The Emerging America Festival, Boston, MA; The Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC; and the NYC International Fringe Festival), The Play About My Dad (59E59, NYC), and 6969 (59E59, NYC) and has been nominated for 10 New York Innovative Theater Awards, winning 3; received 3 FringeNYC Excellence Awards; and a GLAAD Media Award Nomination.

David Edgar
  is a leading British playwright whose work has been produced by the National Theatre in London and by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, London and on Broadway. He has won numerous awards for his stage writing on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as writing for film, television and radio. He is known for his work in large-scale community and political theatre, and he is an advocate for theatre as a force for change in society. He is the immediate past president of the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

Katori Hall
  is a playwright/performer from Memphis, TN. Her plays include The Mountaintop (2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play), Hurt Village (2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Children of Killers, Hoodoo Love, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!, and others. Her writings combine often harsh and vivid realities with imaginative explorations of possibilities — from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last night in Memphis to the brutal legacy of genocide.

E. Patrick Johnson
  is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. A scholar, artist, and activist, Johnson has performed nationally and internationally and has published widely in the area of race, gender, sexuality and performance. Johnson is a prolific performer and scholar, and an inspiring teacher, whose research and artistry has greatly impacted African American studies, performance studies, and sexuality studies. He is the author of two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Duke UP, 2003), and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History (University of North Carolina UP, 2008). He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology (Duke UP, 2005) and solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays (Northwestern UP, 2013). He is currently at work on the companion text to Sweet Tea, entitled, Honeypot: Black Lesbians of the South—An Oral History. His essays have appeared in Text and Performance Quarterly, Callaloo, Theater Journal, and the Journal of Homosexuality, among others. Johnson’s performance work dovetails with his written work. His staged reading, “Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales” is based on his book, Sweet Tea, and has toured to over 100 college campuses from 2006 to the present. In 2009, he translated the staged reading into a full-length stage play, Sweet Tea—The Play, which was co-produced by Jane M. Saks, About Face Theater and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College, Chicago. He won a Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Solo Performance for the show. He was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame in 2010.


About the Otto Awards

The Otto Awards (Executive Producer: Diane Stiles) were founded in 1998 to recognize, support and connect theatre companies and artists engaged in creating political, experimental and community-based theatre. They have been awarded to 92 theatres and individual theatre artists from the United States, Austria, Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, Northern Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Pakistan, Serbia and the United Kingdom. 



Click on the video below to hear Otto René Castillo's poem, "The Apolitical Intellectuals," performed by the staff and volunteers of the Castillo Theatre. 




A video parade of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre sculptures, designed by Sheila Goloborotko.