The Lilly Awards — Kristin Chenoweth’s Statement

by Melissa Silverstein on May 27, 2010

in Actresses,Theatre

On Monday night a packed house gathered at Playwrights Horizons people in NYC to celebrate women working in theatre.  A bunch of people including playwrights Theresa Rebeck and Marsha Norman who call themselves the “Committee for the Recognition of Outstanding Women in Theater,” pulled together an awards ceremony in a couple of weeks to celebrate the great women working in the theatre who seem to constantly be overlooked at awards time.

I’m going to do a longer piece next week for The Women’s Media Center on the awards, but I wanted to share Kristin Chenoweth’s statement on her award.  Rob Ashford read her statement because she was under the weather.  (Chenoweth was overlooked this year for her performance in Promises, Promises.)

I’ve asked Rob to speak in a higher voice so it’s almost like I’m there. It of course kills me that I’m not. I’ve been out 2 shows with a trachea infection. Sucks! You see, when I was first told that I, along with Mary Rodgers would be the first recipient of the “Lilly” awards, my heart leapt. First of all, I look up to Ms. Rodgers, so congrats to you Mary! In graduate school at Oklahoma City University, my thesis was on Leonard Bernstein and Lillian Hellman. She is described as a woman who was an activist, a writer, a lover, and a fighter. I wouldn’t begin to put myself on the same level as this woman but through researching her as a young student of 21, I learned by her example. She was someone I wanted to emulate.

I look at my career as a quilt: one that I’m slowly continuing to put together, just as she did. I’ve played everything from a cartoon character,a girl from Oz, and now a woman who has to look deep into herself as to why she would be ok with a man not deserving of her. I’ve grown through each of these characters and can not wait to see what the next part of my “quilt” will be.

I’d like to thank this beautiful committee, especially Teresa Rebeck, for their insight and encouragement. All the women involved, thank you for this amazing honor. It is one I don’t take lightly, and am very proud to have received. I of course, must thank Rob for accepting this on my behalf. I also have to thank him for trusting me to be the one to tell the story of Fran in PROMISES, PROMISES. Truly one of the most special experiences I’ve had on stage. Rob is a director I put all my trust in and I love him dearly. I promise next year I will be there to “represent”. My sincerest and most heartfelt thanks.

It was a seriously empowering evening.

Theater femmes grow Lilly awards (Variety)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

grrljock May 27, 2010 at 11:18 AM

She’s such a class act!

Susan Jonas May 28, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Melissa, I love your site! I am so glad you’re covering the Lilly’s, named after Lillian Hellman– awards which honor those generally left out of other awards programs in theater– namely women. The Lilly’s is one of a number of great initiaves that address the under-representation of women in theater.

50/50 in 2020 is a grassroots organization with a few thousand members, which seeks to achieve aprity for women in theatre (and in other professions) by the 100th anniversary of American syffrage. Find it on FACEBOOK. http://www.facebook.com/5050in2020

One it its most exciting programs is WORKS BY WOMEN, which offers deeply discounted tickets to shows written, directed or designed by women. http://www.meetup.com/WorksbyWomen/ Sign up for free at the site, and you will get notices for WORKS BY WOMEN nights at mainstream theatres like the Manhattan Theatre Club, mid-sized ones like Women’s Project and small ones, like Peccadillo. Check out the Women Playwrights pages of the New York Theatre Experience website to see what’s on.

Your mission and your site have been an inspiration to us! If your readers and ours all put their money where their mouths are, and choose to see moives and plays by women, we can make a difference.

Thanks, Susan Jonas Co-Founder of 50/50 in 2020, and Co-Author of “The Status of Women in Theater.”

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