TheatreWorks Silicon Valley to Receive Regional Theatre Tony Award

Richard Nixon (Allen McCullough) reacts to his interviews with Frost in "Frost/Nixon," presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

The Tony Awards announced Monday that TheatreWorks Silicon Valley will receive the 2019 Regional Theatre Tony Award on the recommendation of the American Theatre Critics Association.

The non-competitive honorary award, which generally recognizes excellence in incubating new productions, includes a $25,000 grant. The news comes as Robert Kelley, TheatreWorks' founding artistic director, launches his 50th and final season with the company he created as a new Stanford University graduate in 1970.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
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“I can think of no better way to begin TheatreWorks’s 50th Anniversary Season than with this highest honor, a testament to the passion and imaginative spirit of the artists whose work has been presented on TheatreWorks’s stages," Kelley said in a statement. "There is a joy here, a warmth to the creative process that many have found inspiring. For me, that joy has been worth a lifetime."

In a joint statement, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin and American Theatre Wing president Heather Hitchens lauded TheatreWorks for celebrating the human spirit.

"They have helped develop hundreds of vibrant new plays and musicals that are now being performed in theaters across America, and they have pioneered education programs that inspire thousands of students each year, creating future generations of creative artists and enthusiastic audiences," said St. Martin and Hitchens.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley produced 13 wholly original works in its first three years, staging them in unconventional venues, including warehouses, basements and a parking garage. The company developed a reputation for diverse programming and savvy use of a limited budget.

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As the organization grew, it continued to stress new works by emerging artists, staging smaller productions alongside its main season. In the 1990s, TheatreWorks started producing shows at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, and opened a new black-box theatre at the Cubberley Center.

Today, the organization is one of California’s largest theaters, with 40 staff members, more than 8,000 subscribers and an annual budget exceeding $8 million. Its New Works Initiative, which includes an annual writers' retreat and festival, is central to the organization's identity.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is the first Bay Area company to receive the Regional Theatre Tony Award since Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in 1997. Last year the award went to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, an Off-Off-Broadway theatre in New York city.

The Tony Awards will broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Sunday, June 9.

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