Dobama Theatre wins Actors Equity award

Dobama Artistic Director Nathan Motta accepts the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award for promoting diversity in theatre at a ceremony in Chicago on March 11. Presenter Tina Stump looks on.

Dobama Theatre was honored with a regional award by the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) for making non-traditional casting a priority all season long, and providing ongoing opportunities for underrepresented artists.

The theatre received the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award at the annual “Spirit, a Celebration of Diversity” event in Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater on March 11. Named after a former AEA Central Regional Director, the “Kathy” recognizes Dobama’s current 2018/2019 season, which features only women playwrights, including Dominique Morisseau, Annie Baker, Karen Zacarías, Alice Birch, Jennifer Haley and Melissa James Gibson.

Past winners of the award include Damron Russel Armstrong, founder the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City; Ellen Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation; Ron Himes, the founder and producing director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater; Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the Court Theatre.

Dobama Artistic Director Nathan Motta accepted the award. He said, “At Dobama, what we are trying to do, quite simply, is produce important new plays with integrity. Artistic integrity means many things, including fair wages and safe working conditions for artists, something that [Dobama is] dedicated to as an Equity theatre. Artistic integrity also includes, very importantly, representing the community we serve in the stories we tell and who tells them, on and off stage. . . . While we are beyond grateful for this recognition, I think we would agree that we will all truly celebrate when inclusivity in programming, casting, and hiring is the norm. It should be as instinctual as holding the door open for the person behind you or serving your neighbor before you serve yourself at the dinner table.”

Dobama’s upcoming 60th anniversary 2019/20 season will represent various identities, including playwrights of different races, genders and sexual orientations. This summer, Dobama will produce the world premiere of the musical “33 1/3,” which focuses on a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and how it changes the course of his life. As part of its focus on inclusion, Dobama will also expand its Pay-What-You-Can Initiative to include all performances during the season.

Dobama will continue its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with the 41st Annual Marilyn Bianchi Kids’ Playwriting Festival, June 7–9. The theatre receives play submissions from school-aged children all over Northeast Ohio and produces a select winning few for the festival. Submissions represent stories about all walks of life.

Call the box office at 216-932-3396 or visit for more information, season memberships, or to purchase tickets.

Casey Venema

Casey Venema is a directing intern at Dobama Theatre.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 11:00 AM, 04.30.2019