Black Theater Alliance Awards Honor
South African Artist Omphile Molusi
For Powerful Performance in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's
American Premiere of Itsoseng
ChicagoOctober 29, 2010South African artist Omphile Molusi received this year's Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Play (Non-Resident) in recognition of his powerful performance in Itsoseng. The production, part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 2009/10 World's Stage Series, received its American premiere at the Theater presented by Richard Jordan Productions Ltd. in association with Baxter Theatre (University of Cape Town) and Pleasance, with John Worboys. Itsoseng, written and performed by Molusi, chronicles the fortunes and misfortunes of a South African township after the "miracle" of the new democracy of 1994. In this solo tour de force, Molusi deftly portrayed multiple characters to tell the story of a young man's devotion to his childhood sweetheart amidst a tumultuous political climate.
The Black Theater Alliance Awards (BTAA) were founded in 1995 to honor African Americans who achieve excellence in theater, dance and all areas of the performing and technical arts in the Chicagoland area. Other nominees honored for BTAA's 2010 non-resident actor award were from the acclaimed New York City touring productions of The Color Purple and Dreamgirls.
"This kind of acknowledgement not only recognizes me as a performer but also recognizes the township that made me what I am today, the township of Itsoseng," Molusi said. "With this award the Black Theater Alliance Awards are strengthening the voice of the neglected—you are giving a face to the faceless, and you are putting a smile on the hopeless. I'd like to thank Chicago Shakespeare Theater for everything, especially for making us feel at home."
Molusi, a graduate of Johannesburg's esteemed Market Theatre Laboratory, has published several plays including The Sweet Door, Ijo! Pozeng and Itsoseng. His past accolades include a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival (2008) and the Royal Shakespeare Company/Baxter Theatre's first Brett Goldin Bursary Award (2006), which provides a scholarship to study with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) presents accomplished international artists like Molusi in its World's Stage Series, which gives Chicagoans the unique opportunity to experience different cultural and artistic traditions and some of the world's finest productions without leaving home. In curating the World's Stage, CST takes its cue from Shakespeare's high mark of quality and from the eclectic diversity of Europe's touring circuit, joining an international community of creative exchange. The works presented by these companies range from intimate one-man works like Molusi's Itsoseng to grand spectacles like the French troupe Ilotopie's Water Fools (Fous de Bassin), performed entirely atop the waters of Lake Michigan. Molusi joins the company of World's Stage solo performers Catherine Samie of France's La Comédie-Franšaise (La Dernière Lettre, 2001) and England's Simon Callow (The Mystery of Charles Dickens, 2001), among others. Since the inception of the Series in 2000, CST has also hosted over 20 iconic troupes such as The Abbey Theatre (Dublin), Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (London) and the Chekhov International Theatre Festival (Moscow). Chicago Shakespeare has contributed to this exciting international exchange by sending some of its best works abroad, including the Olivier Award-winning production of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures (2003), Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, which marked CST's debut at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon (2006), and Funk It Up About Nothin', which garnered acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2008) and embarks on a tour of Australia in 2011 after a limited engagement at Chicago Shakespeare.
International programming at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is supported, in part, by the Julius Frankel Foundation.
American Airlines is the official airline of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
ComEd is the official lighting design sponsor of Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Programming Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare is made possible through generous support from Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Land O'Frost is a proud sponsor of the 2010/11 Subscription Series at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Mainstage artistic productions in the Courtyard Theater are supported, in part, through a generous leadership grant from the McCormick Foundation.