February 25, 2016 — The Ellen Stewart International Award Executive Committee announced the selection of Colombian artists Bernardo Rey and Nube Sandoval as winners of the 2016 Ellen Stewart International Award. During the Award selection process, over 30,000 individuals from around the world voted for their preferred nominees and left hundreds of comments.

“We are so happy,” said Bernardo Rey upon hearing of the Award Committee’s decision, “we feel inspired to carry on the work of Ellen Stewart.” Rey and Sandoval were in a remote rain forest in Colombia when they got the news. During the ceremony at La MaMa ETC in New York, they joined the celebration via live video feed from Colombia. They were in the process of working with a local community of young artists who performed a traditional song for audiences in both New York and Colombia.

According to La MaMa ETC Artistic Director, Mia Yoo, “Ellen was passionate about her work with young artists and students around the world and she gave tirelessly to share with them a sense of how live performance could give them access to a deeper connection with each other and their communities. We are thrilled that so many people visited the website and learned about the eleven Finalists’ extraordinary work with younger community members. This Award, we hope, will inspire others to follow in their footsteps. We want to build on Ellen’s determination to involve more young people in the transformative power of theatre, music, dance and the live performing arts.”

As part of the Award, Sandoval and Rey will be guests at the International Theatre Institute World Congress in Brazil in May, receive an artistic residency at La MaMa Umbria in Italy to create a new artistic work in June, the financial and production support to present the new work at the Spoleto Festival of 2 Worlds in July, and subsequently at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York.

The work they propose to develop, “The Echo of Invisibles” focuses on the issue of migration and refugees in Europe and the Middle East. It advances the work of Sandoval and Rey around physical actions, poetic images and versatile scenery integrating multimedia with live singing and music.

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.

All Finalists are listed on the Ellen Stewart Award website, where supporters were able to select their favorites and comment on the work of these artists. The Ellen Stewart International Award Executive Committee took into consideration the votes and comments as it made its final determination of the winner. (To read more about the Award and the Finalists, go to:

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.

The International Executive Committee of the Ellen Stewart Award International Executive Committee is comprised of artists and experts representing the three Sponsoring organizations: La MaMa ETC, The Spoleto Festival of 2Worlds and International Theatre Institute. They are:

Tobias Biancone (General Director ITI World Organization), Emilya Cachapero  (Director ITI USA), Frank Carucci  (President La MaMa ETC, New York), Moreno Cerquetelli (Journalist, Theater Critic for RAI, Italy), David Diamond  (La MaMa Umbria International, Italy), Giorgio Ferrara (Artistic Director Festival of 2World, Spoleto), Mia Yoo  (Artistic Director La MaMa ETC, New York), Andrea Paciotto  (La MaMa Umbria International, Italy), Fabio Tolledi (President ITI Italy) and Gherardo Vitali Rosati (Journalist, Playwright, Italy).