Actors' Equity Association announced that the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire has been selected as the recipient of its Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award for the 2011–2012 Season. The Diversity Award was presented at a reception prior to Equity's National Council meeting at Equity headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, July 17, 2012.
The Award, presented by Equity's Eastern Regional Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, honors and encourages those who actively promote the goals of diversity, inclusion, non-traditional casting and equal opportunity for all who work in the theatre.
Accepting the Award, Producer Stephen Byrd said: ”We cannot thank you enough for this award and recognizing what we were trying to achieve and what we hope to continue to achieve. This has not been unlike Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill, coming to Broadway with all of its challenges. And now being recognized is probably the cherry on the top of the sundae, if you will. With this particular version of Streetcar, we tried to make New Orleans a character, whereas in the original play with Brando, it looked like Noah’s Ark, one of every kind. And here we tried to make it a gumbo, of which New Orleans really is. The audiences that have been coming out have just been phenomenal. When we did Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London, we had a study done over there and they found out that 78% of the people that came to see Cat were brand new to the West End. This is the kind of inclusion and diversity that we try to inspire in bringing out new audiences, in developing new audiences, and in spite of what some critics may say, this is not a given. We don’t do Shakespeare one way; jazz musicians don’t play a certain tune one way. So we have a right to try as well to take the great American classics and bring in a new demographic and new audiences who sometimes don’t even know the play or have never heard of the play, but they want to see Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker. So we’ve tried to be inclusive, and again, I accept this award on behalf of the total cast and everyone who has participated in Streetcar.”
Previous award recipients include: The Merchant of Venice (The Public Theater), American Idiot, Billy Elliot, Les Misérables and 110 in the Shade.
Christine Toy Johnson (Co-chair, Equity's Eastern EEO Committee), Stephen Byrd (Producer), Julia Breanetta Simpson (Co-chair, Equity's Eastern EEO Committee), Alia Jones-Harvey (Producer)
Nicole Ari Parker, Matthew Saldivar, Jacinto Taras Riddick, Amelia Campbell, Count Stovall, Carmen De Lavallade, Hilary Austin