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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


Award pages:

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.

Recipients of the Joe A. Callaway Award are:

Year Recipient Role Play Production
1989 Alfre Woodard Paulina THE WINTER'S TALE New York Shakespeare Festival
Victor Garber Richard Dudgeon THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE Circle in the Square
1990 Philip Bosco Harpagon THE MISER Circle in the Square
Mary Alice Margaret RICHARD III New York Shakespeare Festival
1991 Campbell Scott Pericles PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE New York Shakespeare Festival
Mary Beth Hurt Emilia OTHELLO New York Shakespeare Festival
1992 Jake Weber Orlando AS YOU LIKE IT New York Shakespeare Festival
Maryann Plunkett Masha
Marcelle Paillardin
National Actors Theatre
1993 Robert Sean Leonard Marchbanks CANDIDA Roundabout
Maryann Plunkett Joan of Arc SAINT JOAN National Actors Theatre
1994 Robert Stattel Titus Andronicus TITUS ANDRONICUS Theatre for a New Audience
Laura Linney Thea Elvsted HEDDA GABLER Roundabout Theatre
1995 Brian Bedford Sganarelle THE MOLIERE COMEDIES Roundabout
Laila Robins Portia THE MERCHANT OF VENICE New York Shakespeare Festival
1996 Frank Langella The Captain THE FATHER Roundabout
Kathleen Chalfant Mistress Quickly
Queen of France
New York Shakespeare Festival
1997 Max Wright Pavel Lebedev IVANOV Vivian Beaumont
Helen Carey Lady Gay Spanker LONDON ASSURANCE Roundabout
1998 Liev Schreiber Iachimo / Jupiter CYMBELINE New York Shakespeare Festival
Zoe Wanamaker Electra ELECTRA Barrymore Theatre
1999 Anne Dudek Iphigenia IPHIGENIA Theater for a New Audience
No male choice
2000 Byron Jennings Henry Trebell WASTE Theatre for a New Audience
Myra Carter Eleanor KING JOHN Theatre for a New Audience
2001 Larry Pine The Doctor THE SEAGULL Shakespeare in the Park
Kate Burton Hedda Gabler HEDDA GABLER Ambassador Theatre
2002 Evan Robertson Claudio MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Pearl Theatre
Celeste Ciulla Miss Kate Hardcastle SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER Pearl Theatre
2003 Earl Hindman Julius Caesar JULIUS CAESAR Theatre For A New Audience
Kathryn Meisle Elmire TARTUFFE Roundabout Theatre
Carol Schultz Mrs. Malaprop THE RIVALS Pearl Theatre Co.
2004 Joanne Camp Toinette THE IMAGINARY INVALID Pearl Theatre Company
Robert Hock Argan THE IMAGINARY INVALID Pearl Theatre Company
2005 Elizabeth Marvel Hedda Gabler HEDDA GABLER NY Theatre Workshop
Sean McNall Mr. Paris THE GENTLEMAN DANCING-MASTER Pearl Theatre Company
2006 Lily Rabe Ellie Dunn HEARTBREAK HOUSE Roundabout Theatre Co.
Michael Stuhlbarg   THE VOYSEY INHERITANCE Atlantic Theatre Co.
2007 Lauren Ambrose Juliet ROMEO AND JULIET The Public Theatre
Byron Jennings Bastien André IS HE DEAD?  
2008 Kathryn Meisle   WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN Red Bull Theatre
Everett Quinton   WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN Red Bull Theatre
2009 Kate Forbes   OTHELLO New Audience
John Douglas Thompson   OTHELLO / THE EMPEROR JONES New Audience / The Irish Repertory Theatre
2010 Lily Rabe Portia THE MERCHANT OF VENICE Public Theatre
Matthew Rauch Bosola THE DUCHESS OF MALFI Red Bull Theater
2011 Danai Gurira Isabella MEASURE FOR MEASURE Public Theatre
Derek Smith Dog THE WITCH OF EDMONTON Red Bull Theater
2012 Merritt Wever Sonya UNCLE VANYA Soho Rep
Michael Shannon Astrov UNCLE VANYA Soho Rep
2013 Jonathan Cake Benedick MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Theatre for a New Audience
J. Smith-Cameron JUNO JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK Irish Rep
2014 Suzanne Bertish Madame Argent THE HEIR APPARENT Classic Stage Company
Paxton Whitehead Geronte THE HEIR APPARENT Classic Stage Company
2015 Kelley Curran Hippolita 'TIS A PITY SHE'S A WHORE Red Bull Theater
Thomas Jay Ryan Dr. Shpigelsky A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY Classic Stage Company
2016 Corey Stoll Ulysses TROILUS AND CRESSIDA Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park
Lisa Harrow Volumnia CORIOLANUS Red Bull Theater

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