The Otto Awards for Political Theatre, named after Guatemalan poet and revolutionary Otto René Castillo, were founded in 1998 to recognize, support and connect theatre companies and artists that are engaged in creating political, experimental and community-based theatre. Since then, they have been awarded to 109 theatres and individual theatre artists from the United States, Austria, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Northern Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Pakistan, Serbia and the United Kingdom.
About this year’s honorees:
Voza Rivers is a leading theater, music (GRAMMY nominee) and events producer and documentary filmmaker born in Harlem, New York. Rivers is the executive producer and founding member of the New Heritage Theatre Group (established 1964) and executive producer and co-founder of IMPACT Repertory Theatre, the Oscar-nominated youth division of New Heritage Theatre Group led by U.S. director, activist and educator Jamal Joseph. Rivers has produced and co-produced theater, music, concerts, television projects, film festivals, and memorial tributes in the United States for activisits and legendary musicians. His career credits also include theatrical projects from Japan and Cuba. He is currently working with celebrated South African, multi award-winning playwright and director Mbongeni Ngema on the Nelson Mandela musical. Rivers is the Chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance and Vice-Chairman of HARLEM WEEK, celebrating its 45th anniversary.
Falconworks Theatre Company, founded in 1997 and incorporated in 2004, is an intrinsically diverse organization supporting the work of artists, community members and the larger movement for social justice. Their staff, volunteers and audiences are often from their local community, Red Hook, Brooklyn, which houses the largest public housing project in the borough directly adjacent to a rapidly gentrifying waterfront community. Falconworks remains committed to bridging the facets of our community by creating programs that address issues, are inclusive and provide a space for discussion. They hold free programs close to the housing projects, engage grassroots marketing efforts, and recruit board members who are from the community. Falconworks Artists Group’s mission is to empower individuals and communities through theater in order to effect social change. Falconworks achieves its aims through theater workshops that cultivate participants’ abilities to tell their own and their communities’ stories directly to diverse local audiences. Uniting these sometimes-disparate groups, Falconworks engenders local residents with a renewed sense of community and educates them about local issues that affect them all.
For a listing of all winners of the Otto Awards for Political Theatre since the award’s founding in 1998, click here.