In advance of the Tony Awards next Sunday where no women writers were nominated, The Third Annual Lilly Awards (named after playwright Lillian Hellman) were handed out in NYC. The awards are conferred by the Committee for Recognizing Women in Theater which is made up of 25 professionals working in the theatre.
This year the awards were given to actors Cristin Milioti (“Once”) and Nina Arianda (“Venus in Fur”), directors Diane Paulus (“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess”) and Sarah Benson (“Elective Affinities”), playwrights Katori Hall (“The Mountaintop”) and Leslye Headland (“Assistance”), and set designer Heidi Ettinger.
Lilly co-founder, award winning writer Marsha Norman had this to say about the event:
This is an opportunity to congratulate and celebrate the contribution made to the American theater by spectacularly talented women — often not acknowledged by the theatrical community during the end of season awards…our honorees have worked hard to set the standard high for all theater artists, and we feel honored and privileged to acknowledge their significant and profound contributions.
Another co-founder, writer Julia Jordan (the third co-founder is writer Theresa Rebeck) spoke about the continuing ridiculous and sexist conversation that happens related to women having kids as one of the reasons why women are not as successful as their male colleagues.
She paraphrased her comments:
Each year we have done the Lillys someone has been pregnant, giving birth or was literally breastfeeding (on stage.) I was pregnant year one and Sarah Ruhl had just given birth to twins (with a show on Broadway AND another downtown), last year Sarah Benson was a week from her due date. This year we had hoped to have previous winner Amy Herzog, whose play 4000 Miles is playing at Lincoln Center but she has literally just given birth days ago. Never mind all the women who are raising their 3, 4, 5… 17 year olds.
Women work and have children at the same time. That’s it.