The Ellen Stewart International Award Executive Committee announces the selection of Finalists for the 2018-19 Ellen Stewart International Award. During the Award selection process, the Committee was pleased to receive over forty 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:

Al Harah (Palestine)

Al-Harah Theater has been committed to building and maintaining a civil society that emphasizes human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression through working directly with children, youth, and older age groups. Through performances, festivals, and training programs, Al-Harah Theater has been able to engage the local community in Palestine, reaching out to marginalized areas, and gazing towards international communities in different countries and building partnerships to develop its own work.

Dumbworld (Ireland)
Dumbworld creates ambitious, collaborative projects that exist at the intersection of contemporary music, performance, words and imagery.  Dumbworld believes passionately in connecting individual shared experiences, layering diametrically opposed forces, and combining highly skilled internationally renowned practitioners with diverse groups/individuals with no or little performance/creation experience.

Garage Theatre Company (Iran)

The main work of Garage Theater is researching in the field of anthropology of culture, analyzing the behavior of an actor and developing the capabilities of his/her body and voice; something which we call extra-daily techniques. This group, without any governmental support and totally independently, has been working for eleven years in Qom, the most religious city of Iran with all kinds of obstacles and barriers. The group was chosen as Iran’s best theater company in 2017.

Michael Morgan (USA)

Michael designed “The Odyssey Project” as a multi-cultural experiment that brings together contemporary youth culture with a literary pinnacle of Western civilization.  As an exploratory project, it examines this intersection in order to determine how the themes of “The Odyssey” serve as a prompt to liberate socially marginalized voices.  The

participants progress from interpretation to ownership and authorship as they evolve in the process to a point where they are able to re-write “The Odyssey” in their own words.

Naema Naeem Butt  (Pakistan)

She is a well-known person in Pakistan in the field of community engagement and youth activism. At the Pakistan U.S Alumni Network she went from Junior Youth Community Service Coordinator to winning the elections of Punjab Chapter leadership. She won the post of Sectary General in Pakistan US Alumni Network and served in the leading position for two years where she organized many theatrical performances and other events related to peace, interfaith and anti corruption.

Seiphemo Mostwiri (South Africa)

Seiphemo has done meticulous work in contributing towards South African theatre, developing young artists and also create theatre plays for young people. Seiphemo is a qualified Applied Drama practitioner who uses theatre as way of creating dialogue around issues affecting communities and workers, some of the shows he created for learning outcomes.

Selina Thompson (United Kingdom)

Selina Thompson’s commitment to using theatre and performance as a tool for social change has been exemplified through the broad and unique body of work she and her company have developed. From working with school children to speak about food and being fat, to young men and women about their relationships with their hair, to setting up new collectives of Black teenage girls making radical performance art and film across four different cities: inspiring young people through art and theatre by making work with them about their lives, experiences, hopes and dreams for the future.

Taiwo Afolabi (Nigeria)

As a theatre practitioner from a country with many challenges, Taiwo used arts for social change initiatives to better his society especially through the activities of his theatre company, Theatre Emissary International. Without funding, he created community initiatives, mobilized support from rural areas and persuaded community leaders to partner in developing and launching programs to educate and make conscious the people on social justice issues and human development themes among others.

Thispianz (Pakistan)

Thespianz Theater is working from 2005 with the mission “To alert the whole world for social problems via performing arts, education, health by developing its infrastructures with state of the art facilities.” Thespianz’s believes that the youths are the asset of any country and if you would like to change people’s perspective so you should have to work on their youths, with this thought Thespianz keenly initiates youth-based social projects to broom out evil issues from their community.

Teresa Welminska, Andrzej Welminski (Poland)

Teresa and Andrzej Welminski actively promote artistic partnerships and build cross-cultural understanding, and advance knowledge of contemporary art through support for exhibitions, research and publications. Their activity opens up to different varieties of contemporary stage art, combining theatre with dance, visual arts, social activism, etc. They bring together teams of artists of different generations, traditions and beliefs.

Zoukak (Lebanon)

Zoukak has been working with marginalized communities across Lebanon for the last eleven years (disabled children, women victims of domestic violence, incarcerated youths, individuals affected by war, including refugees…), applying theatre on various levels. The company developed a specific approach to psychosocial interventions of drama therapy and socially engaged theatre, providing workshops and training programs to diverse groups, and devising performances in different Lebanese regions and in various contexts locally and abroad, including Calais’ migrants and refugee camp, in France and in refugee camps in Serbia.


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.

Much of the support comes from individuals. Donations can be made through the website: http://