The Joe A. Callaway Award
Kelley Curran, Thomas Jay Ryan Receive Equity Foundation Classic Theatre Award
Kelley Curran and Thomas Jay Ryan garnered the 2015 Joe A. Callaway Award presented by the Actors Equity Foundation. The award, honoring the best performance in a professional production of a classic play (one written prior to 1920) in the New York metropolitan area, was presented at Actors’ Equity Association’s Eastern Regional Membership Meeting on January 8, 2016, in New York City and includes a $1,000 check plus a commemorative engraved plaque for each recipient.
Presenting the award to Curran, Margot Harley, Founder of the Acting Company, said, “I love Kelley. I cannot take my eyes off of her when she’s on stage and that’s been true ever since the beginning, when you weren’t nearly as good as you are now. But whenever you were on stage I couldn’t look at anyone else, and I still feel that way.”
Kelley Curran was recognized for her performance as Hippolita in Red Bull Theater’s production of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Curran has appeared on regional stages throughout the country, including in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC; Venus in Fur at the Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples, Florida; Anna Karenina at the Portland Center Stage, Portland, OR; and Red Velvet and The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, among others.
“I can hardly begin to express how much this particular award means to me,” she said. “Essentially, my pursuit of a life in the arts was through the classic plays and through Shakespeare – that’s how I came to this profession. To be honored for my work in that genre is so profoundly meaningful to me.”
Thomas Jay Ryan was cited for his performance as Dr. Shpigelsky in the Classic Stage Company production of Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country. He followed up this production with an appearance in 10 out of 12 at Soho Rep and the Keen Company’s Travels With My Aunt, an adaptation of the Graham Greene novel in which he played dual roles. Next up on stage is a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, due on Broadway in April, 2016. Ryan, who attended Carnegie Mellon University, also played pioneering gay activist Harry Hay in the initial production of The Temperamentals in 2009 and has worked in regional theatres, including The Guthrie in Minneapolis and Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven.
“Tom’s genius as an actor is in his impeccable attention to the truth of a character, and his willingness to plumb the depths of that character and then his ability to reveal those depths and that truth on stage in the most magical, detailed, subtle and nuanced ways so that you never even know he’s acting,” said Joan Macintosh, Equity member and professor at the Yale School of Drama upon honoring Ryan.
Specifically thanking the cast of A Month in the Country, he remembered thinking after opening, “Just hold my hand, look into my eyes and we’ll go out there and I will hold you up and you will hold me up and we’ll get through this.” He added, “As I get older it starts to occur to me that what we do in its own way is a small act of bravery just going to work.”
The judges for the Callaway Award are: Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News; Adam Feldman, Time Out New York; Susan Haskins, Theater Talk; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, The Hour Newspapers.
Previous recipients of the Callaway Award include Kate Burton, Byron Jennings, Frank Langella, Laura Linney, Lily Rabe, Liev Schreiber and, in 2014, Suzanne Bertish and Paxton Whitehead.
The Actors Equity Foundation, a philanthropic and humanitarian nonprofit organization, was created in 1962 to aid and assist members of the acting profession and to promote the theatre arts. It is separate from Actors’ Equity Association and is funded by estate bequests and individual donations.
The 2015 Joe A. Callaway Award winners, Kelley Curran and Thomas Jay Ryan, along with Arne Gundersen. (center).
credit: Stephanie Masucci
Arizona Theatre Service
Diversity on Broadway
Established by Equity member Joe A. Callaway in 1989 to encourage participation in the classics and non-profit theatre.