Nestled in the rural mountains of Vermont – and in a town boasting a population just shy of 600 – the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company has dedicated itself to diversity on its stage. That’s why the Playhouse has been named the proud recipient of Equity’s 2015 Rosetta LeNoire Award. The Playhouse’s Producing Artistic Director Steve Stettler accepted the award on April 10, 2015, during Equity’s Annual Membership Meeting.
The award, established in 1988, recognizes outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American Theater. The award is given to an individual, theater or producing organization with an exemplary record in the hiring or promotion of ethnic minorities, female actors and actors with disabilities through multi-racial and/or non-traditional casting.
“Through diverse programming, inclusive casting and development of new works, the Weston Playhouse consistently demonstrates a commitment to inclusion,” said Christine Toy Johnson, Equity Councilor, National Equal Employment Opportunity committee chair. “I strongly believe that the community of artists that the Weston Playhouse has created has organically become a community of artists of the diverse world in which we live – because of the world view that its producers have and are committed to upholding.”
Since taking over the reins of the playhouse in 1988 and becoming a nonprofit Equity house, Stettler, along with its founding directors, have made it their mission to keep their stages diverse.
“We believe that theater should explore the human condition and that diversity is of the essence in doing so,” said Stettler. “Particularly because we produce in one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country, we place a priority on diverse programming, casting and hiring. We are constantly working to see that our company and community are inclusive and welcoming, and that the work on our stages reflects a broader world and world view.”
The oldest professional theater in the state, the company is now an award-winning theater with summer festivals, along with new works and education programs, including a middle and high school playwright residency program and a young adult Broadway Boot Camp.
Currently in the throes of a campaign to improve the Weston Playhouse, which includes an effort to raise funds for a state-of-the-arts studio theater as well as general renovations, the Playhouse is striving to dig deeper into Vermont’s soil while creating a national theatrical impact and maintain its professionalism and value toward diversity.
“Weston is deeply honored to be recognized in the company of the remarkable artists, theaters and organizations who have won the Rosetta LeNoire Award,” Stettler said. “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with Actors' Equity and our dedication to diversity and theatrical excellence. This award further inspires us to continue to set an example in the field.”