‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
With a drastically shortened season due to the pandemic, Tony Awards are flying off the shelves to some unconventional recipients.
The Broadway Advocacy Coalition (BAC), David Byrne’s American Utopia, and Freestyle Love Supreme have been awarded Special Tony Awards as they are each “outstanding productions, artists, and organizations that do not fall into any of the competitive categories,” per the Tony Awards Administration.
These awards will be given out on September 26 at the Tony Awards ceremony, which will honor productions and artists from the 2019-20 season. In a statement, Heather Hitchens (chief executive and president of the American Theatre Wing) and Charlotte St. Martin (president of the Broadway League) honored these recipients, saying, “The Broadway Advocacy Coalition has provided an unparalleled platform for marginalized members of our theatre community and tools to help us all do better as we strive for equity. The two productions we are honoring, David Byrne’s American Utopia and Freestyle Love Supreme, take theatre to the next level, delivering outside-of-the-box presentations that have gone beyond the stage and brought theatre into the homes of millions of people around the world.”
Freestyle Love Supreme and American Utopia each had Broadway runs and will return for in-person performances this fall. Freestyle Love Supreme, created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale, will come to the Booth Theatre in October and American Utopia will play at the St. James Theatre starting September 17.
The BAC was profiled in The Brooklyn Rail last fall, where Diep Tran wrote that the coalition “has been hosting monthly Zoom gatherings—called Days of Healing—with Black theater artists to decompress and strategize. BAC is now being called into private conversations with producers and theaters. And while BAC is working on addressing racism in theater, they have also recently held writing workshops with formerly incarcerated women of color, as well as a forum on how to make theater education less racist and white-centric.”
The Tony Awards will air on two platforms on September 26: on Paramount+ starting at 7 PM EST and on CBS at 9 PM EST. The latter will be an abridged version, airing “The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!” which will feature performances from the Tony-nominated Best Musicals and a live presentation of the Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Revival of a Play and Best Musical.