The Clarence Derwent Award
Alana Arenas and Ben Platt Receive 2016 Clarence Derwent Awards
Equity members Ben Platt and Alana Arenas take home Broadway’s oldest honor.
The Actors’ Equity Foundation’s 2016 Clarence Derwent Awards for most promising female and male performers on the New York metropolitan scene have gone to Alana Arenas (Head of Passes) and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen).
Alana Arenas was recognized for her performance as Cookie in the Public Theater production of Head of Passes (she was awarded the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress). Arenas, an ensemble member of Steppenwolf Theater Company since 2007, has performed regionally in numerous productions, and Off Broadway as well.
“I really want to say thank you to the Actors’ Equity Foundation and our union,” she said. “As an actor, you really appreciate that you have an advocate. I’ve come to really understand that I have accomplished nothing by myself, and I’m so thankful for the people that God has gifted me. To be acknowledged and to receive your vote of confidence, I do not take that lightly.”
Ben Platt was recognized for his performance as Evan in Dear Evan Hansen (Second Stage Theatre). Platt got his start in a national tour of Caroline, or Change at age 11 before snagging the breakout role of Benji in Pitch Perfect. After starring in the national tour of The Book of Mormon, Platt made his Broadway debut as Elder Cunningham in 2014.
“All I ever wanted was to be part of theatre community,” he said, accepting the award. “I hope that I can do good on this promise. I know that this award is for the most promising performer; I will do good on this promise.”
Established in 1945 by Clarence Derwent, distinguished actor and president of Equity from 1946-1952, the award is the oldest on Broadway. Past recipients include Nina Arianda, Annette Bening, Kristin Chenoweth, Morgan Freeman, Allison Janney, Frances Sternhagen, Christopher Walken, Fritz Weaver and in 2015, Phillipa Soo and Josh Grisetti.
The Judges’ Panel includes Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News; Adam Feldman, Time Out New York; Susan Haskins-Doloff, Theater Talk; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, The Hour Newspapers.
Arizona Theatre Service
Diversity on Broadway
Unknown to anyone but his sister and lawyer, Clarence Derwent had stipulated in his will that two five hundred dollar prizes were to be given out annually to the best individual supporting performances on Broadway. He had originally planned to have the awards given out only after his death, but, he reflected, “The amount of fun one can have from one’s money when underground is strictly limited…” So the Derwent Awards began in 1945.
To read more about Clarence Derwent click here...