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The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival will honor five women for their exceptional career and life achievements at its Opening Night Gala on March 26 at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.
Leilani Chan will receive the Rainbow Award. She is an award-winning performance artist and Founding Artistic Director of TeAda Productions. TeAda exists to enrich the repertoire of works created and performed by people of color. TeAda is currently producing “Healing Aloud,” a festival of new works partnering women of color with immigrant health organizations to create multi-disciplinary performances. Ms. Chan is a steering committee member of the National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival. She has directed new works by robert karimi at OUTNORTH in Anchorage, Alaska; Kristina Wong at REDCAT , [INSIDE] the Ford, and at La Pena Cultural Center; and Shyamala Moorty at REDCAT. Her own full-length solo shows, “Tita on the Run” and “E Nana I Ke Kumu,” have toured nationally. She has worked with communities to develop community-based performances and has been presented at many performance venues across the country. Ms. Chan received her M.F.A. from UC Irvine.
Tanna Frederick will receive the Maverick Award. In addition to appearing in plays at Skylight Theatre, the Coronet, Greenway Court Theatre (for Robey Theatre Company) and at Edgemar Center for the Arts, she has emerged as a queen of independent films, starring in “Hollywood Dreams,” “Irene In Time,” and “Queen of the Lot” as the leading lady of director Henry Jaglom’s feature film repertory company. Away from stage and screen, she devotes her time to philanthropic pursuits. She is co-founder of Project Save Our Surf, a surfing event that this year will benefit Oceana, a nonprofit international advocacy program created with the sole purpose of protecting the world’s oceans to sustain the circle of life. Ms. Frederick also founded the Iowa Film Festival. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa.
Gay Iris Parker will receive the Eternity Award. At Pasadena Playhouse, she is responsible for cultivating and sustaining a diverse audience base for main stage productions, including (as of this writing) the hit musical “Stormy Weather.” She produces community outreach events, such as panels and exhibits in addition to the popular “Conversations With…” programs, which have included such guests as Leslie Uggams, Marlee Matlin, Ruby Dee, Vernon Winfrey (Oprah’s father), Michael York, Carol Lawrence, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., and the late Gregory Hines. Ms. Parker has also served as audience consultant for Geffen Playhouse (“Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues,” “Emergency”), Center Theater Group (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre), Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (Three Mo’ Tenors), and Ebony Repertory Theatre. She has also performed public relations duties for the Pan African Film Festival, Buskaid Soweto String Orchestra, artist and author Synthia St. James, French horn virtuoso Robert Watt (L.A. Philharmonic), and UNICEF Los Angeles. Ms. Parker received degrees from CSULA and Loyola Marymount. Until 2007, she was a part-time adjunct instructor in Communication and Performing Arts at Pasadena City College.
Adriana Sevan will receive the Integrity Award. Her solo play “Taking Flight” debuted at the Kirk Douglas Theater in 2006 and won the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award the following year, subsequently being performed across the country. She has just received the 008 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award which gifts her with a generous commission to research and write a new play about her grandparent’s survival of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which will be developed by the award’s host theatres: The Lark Play Development Center in New York, Silk Road Theatre Company in Chicago,, and Golden Thread in San Francisco. Ms. Sevan is devoted to bringing theatre and girls together. She currently leads transformational mentoring workshops for at-risk adolescent girls using creative writing and improvisation as tools for girls to discover their vibrant, vital and unique voices.
Eartha Kitt will posthumously receive the Infinity Award. She died this past Christmas Day at the age of 81 after a career in which she enjoyed stardom in every performing arts medium. After enduring an impoverished childhood made bleaker by discrimination because of her mixed African American-Cherokee-Caucasian background, she began her show business career as a dancer of the famed Katherine Dunham Company, performing with them in her 1948 motion picture debut, “Casbah.” Declaring her “the world’s most exciting woman,” Orson Welles cast her as Helen of Troy in his 1950 staging of “Doctor Faustus.” Cast in the hit revue, “New Faces of 1952,” she began a hit recording career with her biggest hit, “Santa Baby,” being released the following year. Hollywood beckoned, and she was cast opposite Sidney Poitier in 1958 in “The Mark of the Hawk.” Her busy career continued to flourish as she replaced Julie Newmar as Catwoman on the “Batman” TV series. Ostracized after her vocal opposition to the Vietnam War during a White House luncheon, she made a Broadway comeback , receiving Tony nominations for “Timbuktu” and “The Wild Party,” Finding a gay audience during the disco years, she returned their love by becoming a vocal advocate for marriage equality rights. In later years, she continued to perform on Broadway and in night clubs, and won two Daytime Emmys for the Disney Channel series “The Emperor’s New School. She is survived by a daughter and grandchildren.
The awards will be presented at Highways Performance Space , 1651 18th Street in Santa Monica, 90404 on Thursday, March 26 . A champagne reception and light buffet at 7 p.m. precedes the 8 p.m. awards ceremony and show. The event will be hosted by Festival honorary co-chair Hattie Winston (“Becker”) and Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps. Entertainment includes short theatre pieces by Angela Dean-Baham and Rose Weaver. The show and ceremony are directed by Adleane Hunter and written by Angela Gibbs.
Tickets for the March 26 event are $60 each or two for $100. Substantial discounts are available for group purchases. Reservations: (818) 760-0408. Online ticket purchases can be made at http://www.lawtf.com
Sponsors of the event include California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Union Bank of California, U.S. Bank and Adilah Barnes Productions.