The Ellen Stewart International Award Executive Committee announces the selection of Finalists for the 2016 Ellen Stewart International Award. During the Award selection process, the Committee was pleased to receive over fifty nominations for the Award from artists throughout the world.
The Finalist list below includes some of the most ambitious, effective and inspiring theatre artists from ten countries whose extraordinary work promotes social change and community participation with a particular focus on the engagement of young people.

The Finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

Anna Newell (Northern Ireland)
For over 25 years, Anna Newell has been creating theatrical experiences with and for young people in Ireland, South Africa, Bosnia and the US. Her company, Replay Theatre became one of the first companies in Northern Ireland and globally to create work for audiences of children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties.

Berith Danse, Theatre Embassy (The Netherlands)
With her company, Theatre Embassy, Berith Danse has many years of experience in socially-engaged theatre with youth involvement worldwide, working with theatre makers, rural artists, amateurs in Africa, Asia and Latin America: Bolivia, Congo, Sudan, South Africa, Peru, Bolivia, Cambodia and The Netherlands.

Dynamis Teatro (Italy)
DYNAMIS, founded in Rome, conducts research through the experimentation of different expressive forms across the axes of Education, Research and Production. It promotes training activities for professional actors, amateurs, students and children, with the purpose of encouraging interaction and communication, as well as a participatory, attentive and critical look and exploration of different ways of living in the city’s spaces.

Mammalian Diving Reflex (Canada/Germany)
The Group, based in Toronto, focuses on creating “social acupuncture,” a playful, provocative and site and social specific participatory performances with non-actors of all ages and demographics designed to bring people together in new and unusual ways. Their work has been presented in fifty cities around the world.

Masrah Ensemble (Lebanon)
Working with refugee and migrant worker communities, the Lebanese theatre has been staging performances, cultivating new talent and championing artist and cultural exchanges. They develop new Arabic drama through playwright residencies, they trace the history of theatre’s relationship to social change amid the the Arab revolts and develop projects confronting the divisive repercussions of post-colonial warfare.

Nube Sandoval / Bernardo Rey (Colombia/Italy)
Sandoval and Rey directed the Theatrical Laboratory of psycho-social rehabilitation with refugee victims of torture in Rome and continue to work in Colombia in social contexts of high vulnerability. Their methodology, Theater as Bridge, is based on the rescue, stimulation and enhancement of artistic skills of participants who are mostly young refugees from Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ping Chong (USA)
US National Medal of Arts recipient, Ping Chong, uses puppetry, dance, documentary theatre and media, on projects that explore the hidden genocide in Africa, class struggles in the United States, the modernization of China and the experiences of Muslim American youth, among other subjects. His ground-breaking Undesirable Elements series includes performances, toolkits and workshops to encourage young people, artists and activists to use the arts to create social change.

Sanjoy Ganguly (India)
As founder and Artistic Director of Jana Sanskriti Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed, in West Bengal, Ganguly is India’s leading practitioner Boal’s methodology ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’, which seeks to enable the ‘humanisation of humanity.’ The quality of the theatrical work incorporates a rich, imaginative and evocative mix of indigenous forms (e.g. dance and music) and a rigorous focus on actual practical issues affecting the daily lives of performers and spectators.

Stephanie Ansin / Fernando Calzadilla (USA)
Ansin and Calzadilla create original productions for multigenerational audiences that have reached over 160,000 people of all ages and abilities. They  have raised the bar on cutting-edge, spell-binding, and educational theatre in South Florida. Ansin and Calzadilla have developed a theatrical language over the course of eight years that allows students a chance to take a geographic, intellectual, and spiritual journey to other parts of town, to another dimension of their imagination.

Thespianz Theater (Pakistan)
Thespianz Theater Pakistan is committed to street theatre for social change with youth in Pakistan. Artistic Director, Faisal Mailik and his collaborators have initiated theater arts societies in leading schools, colleges and universities and created flying (mobile) theatre to bring performances to small towns, villages and districts with no access to theatre which bring awareness of the performing arts as a vehicle for social change to new generations.

Torange Yeghiarzarian (USA)
As founding Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions, the SanFrancisco theatre company, Yeghiarzarian is devoted to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities. In this capacity, she has produced numerous world and American premieres by playwrights of Middle Eastern heritage.  Golden Thread’s youth program was launched in direct response to community demand for meaningful and culturally sensitive children’s theatre. Her current Islam 101 project compares ancient stories of displacement to contemporary realities of war in the Middle East, as well as the many immigrant communities in the US.


All Finalists will be listed on the Ellen Stewart Award website, where supporters will be able to select their favorites and comment on the work of these artists. The Ellen Stewart International Award Executive Committee will take into consideration the votes and comments as it makes its final determination of the winner. The website is: Members of the public are encouraged to learn about the extraordinary work of all of the Finalists.

Named for La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart, The International Award celebrates her remarkable lifetime achievements in the theatre and her dedication to creating a world theatre which embraces all traditions and cultural identities. Through the theatre, countless younger people were inspired by Ellen Stewart as artists and generators of personal and social change

With the support of the ITI (International Theatre Institute), La MaMa New York, La MaMa Umbria International, and the Spoleto Festival of 2 Worlds, the recipient of The Ellen Stewart International will attend the ITI World Congress, receive an artistic residency at La MaMa Umbria to create a new work, and the financial and production support to present the new work at the Spoleto Festival of 2 Worlds, and subsequently at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York.

Additional support comes from individuals.  Donations can be made through the website: