Boston Conservatory at Berklee Excels at the 2022 Elliot Norton Awards
Boston Conservatory at Berklee faculty and alums once again proved their integral presence in Boston’s professional theater landscape at the 2022 Elliot Norton Awards, with key wins in the categories of Outstanding Performance by an Actor for a Midsize Theater, Outstanding Performance by an Actress for a Midsize Theater, and Outstanding Choreography. The awards ceremony, Boston’s largest in the field of theater, was held virtually on Monday, May 23.
Recent contemporary theater graduate Sharmarke Yusuf (B.F.A. '20) received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor for a Midsize Theater for his role in SpeakEasy Stage’s production of BLKS, a new play written by Aziza Barnes that won the 2020 Inaugural Antonyo Award for Best Play.
Also recognized for acting achievement was theater faculty member Marianna Bassham, who received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress for a Midsize Theater for her performance as Emma in SpeakEasy Stage’s People, Places & Things. The play, which earned the award for Outstanding Production by a Midsize Theater, also featured in its cast theater faculty member John Kuntz and Conservatory alums Parker Jennings (B.F.A. '22, musical theater), Shanelle Chloe Villegas (B.F.A. '19, contemporary theater), as well as Yusuf.
SpeakEasy, founded by Conservatory theater faculty member Paul Daigneault, was one of three local theater companies that dominated this year’s Elliot Norton awards, earning 16 nominations and seven awards, including all three nominations for Outstanding Production by a Midsize Theater. In addition to BLKS and People, Places & Things, the company also produced Once on This Island, for which Conservatory dance faculty member Jazelynn Goudy won the award for Outstanding Choreography.
Boston Conservatory at Berklee and SpeakEasy share an exclusive professional partnership that began in 2020. Through the partnership, theater students learn from professionals about the nonprofit theater model and are eligible for credit-bearing theater administration internships. SpeakEasy also holds auditions on the Conservatory campus, and students cast in productions receive both school credit and compensation from the theater.
In addition to SpeakEasy Stage, several other companies put on winning productions in which Conservatory faculty played vital roles. Faculty member David Freeman Coleman was the music director for Huntington Theatre Company’s production of The Bluest Eye, a musical adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel that won three awards, including Outstanding Production by a Large Theater, Outstanding Direction for a Large Theater, and Outstanding Ensemble, Large Theater. Further, the Outstanding Musical Production winner, Greater Boston Stage Company’s All Is Calm, featured music direction by faculty member Matthew Stern.
In addition, Theater faculty member Igor Golyak was honored at the ceremony with a Special Citation by the awards committee for “pushing the boundaries of digital space to create a new genre of theater.” Golyak is the founder and artistic director of Arlekin Players Theatre. In the early days of the pandemic, he converted the theater into a green screen studio to create the Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab, an online, cloud-based theater laboratory which used innovative technologies to create multiple critically acclaimed virtual theater pieces.
Golyak’s visionary work in virtual theater is just one example of how Boston Conservatory at Berklee community members are at the forefront of innovation, shaping the performing arts scene in Boston and beyond.
Learn more about Boston Conservatory’s leading theater programs.