The Austin is an award which we give in honor of a much-loved and much-missed member of the ANDTheatre community, Gary Austin.
If you go to Wikipedia or any online source, you will read about how Austin went from college theatre major to founding one of the pre-eminent theatrical improv companies, The Groundlings. His bio includes a who’s who list of significant actors and improvisors (Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, Paul Feig, Helen Slater, Lisa Kudrow, Paul Reubens, the late Phil Hartman, Academy Award & Emmy nominee Lindsay Crouse, Tony winner Lillias White, Jennifer Grey, the late Pat Morita, Donna Summer, Loretta DeVine, Robert David Hall and Daphne Zuniga).
25 years ago, Gary came to New York to extend his workshops to this coast. Here, he met Artistic New Directions, now ANDTheatre, and was asked to participate in our first Summer Improv Retreat where he met Michael J. Gellman and Carol Fox Prescott who, along with Jeffrey Sweet, became the basis for AND’s thrust into theatrical improvisation.
THE AUSTIN is given by AND’s Board of Directors to honor distinguished artists who have graced our company by bringing their special talents to AND projects, much as Gary did for many years.
2017 Award Winners
Patricia Birch has directed for us, advised us and given us moral support and generally inspired us with one of the theatre’s legendary careers. In addition to lending her gifts to our short play festival, she helped shape YOU ONLY SHOOT THE ONES YOU LOVE to a successful run in the New York Fringe and elsewhere, and also was key in brokering the introduction of KUNSTLER to the senior producers, Patricia and Bill Snyder of the Creative Place International, without whom the show would not have had its off-Broadway run.
Jeff McCarthy. It was Jeff’s talent that gave Jeff Sweet (we have a lot of Jeffs here) the idea to write a play about William Kunstler in the first place. Jeff McCarthy’s willingness to be part of the development over several years, and his advocating it to Barrington Stage were key to getting the project off the ground. He then built that magnificent performance which I hope you had the honor of seeing, either in its run at 59 E 59th St. or in its initial run and than an encore run last summer in the Berkshires. ANDTheatre Company was the associate producer with the Snyders and the Creative Place on that production. With our gifted director Meagen Fay (who also has her connection with Pat Birch), and his wonderful castmates, Erica Roche and Nambi Kelley, Jeff not only got astonishing reviews from the critics, but also from William Kunstler’s family, including one of his daughters, Karin, who came to see the show six times because, as she said, she missed her father.