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Temple Talks Barrymore Awards

Oct 30, 2018

By Toree Weaver

There are numerous ways artists can be recognized for their work in Philly. Very notably among these many accolades are the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre presented by Theater Philadelphia. The celebrated night of awards (this year on Nov. 5) focuses on theatre artists and companies in the Greater Philadelphia area, highlighting the vibrant and diverse community.

The awards are dedicated to local talent and also provide cash prizes that can total over  $75,000 to help recipients fund projects. But much of the spectacle is about creating a chance for so many excellent local artists to come together in a spirit of collaboration. While the amount of talent in the Philadelphia theatre community is boundless, Temple can point to a great deal of representation in this year’s awards.

With their dedication and quality work in the 2017/2018 theatre season, 19 Temple affiliated people have made their mark in 19 of the 24 categories (some of them multiple times).  

Among these talented artists, many former Temple students have been nominated for awards based on their individual contribution to a production. Mary Elizabeth Scallen (MFA ‘90), who received her MFA in acting, has performed in numerous plays and musicals. Her role as Fraulein Schneider in the Arden’s performance of Cabaret made her eligible to win a Barrymore award for Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Musical. When preparing for the role, Scallen recalls using some of the fundamentals she learned at Temple.

“I feel that I built my artistic skeleton at Temple: a reliable, unshakeable core of values and discipline that still supports me,” Scallen said. “I'd learned at Temple that judging characters is not my job, that the act of judgment immediately limits the imagination. Rather, my job is to commit fully to bringing characters to dimensional, sympathetic life with warts intact.”

The play, The Brownings, produced by Orbiter 3, was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble which includes multi Barrymore award nominated Temple professor David Ingram as well as Alum James Ijames (‘06). It was also nominated for Outstanding Costume Design created by Temple faculty member Marie Anne Chiment.

James Ijames has a second nomination for Outstanding Supporting Performance for The Brownings and has gleaned many recent awards since receiving his MFA in acting at Temple University. His previous awards include three Barrymore Awards: two Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Play awards for his roles in Superior Donuts and Angels In America, and an Outstanding Direction Of A Play award for directing Brothers Size. Ijames continues to work in theatre as an actor and lauded writer -- a recent recipient of the prestigious Kesselring Prize. He is also a teacher at Villanova University and serves as a mentor for artists in the area.

Temple alumni have made their mark across the spectrum of theater at the Barrymores. Maria Shaplin (‘08) is nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design for her work on The Wild Duck with Quintessence Theatre Group and for her Media Design for This is On Record produced by Applied Mechanics. While Shaplin has collaborated with many theatres in the city including The Wilma and People’s Light, her talents have taken her all over the world. She has been fortunate to work on long-term projects in Oregon, Germany, and the UK. With an MFA in lighting design, Shaplin has also pursued careers in graphic and web design.

There are numerous other artists who have come from the Temple University family who will be celebrated for their work this year as well.  These include Lindsey Smiling (‘03), who has appeared on numerous Philadelphia and NJ stages as well as CBS Television -- he is nominated for his ensemble work in Blood Wedding and Passing Strange. Ross Beschler (‘09 - Blood Wedding), Savannah L. Jackson (‘18 - Passing Strange)Geneviève Perrier (‘10 - The Gap), Kimie Muroya (BA ‘16 - The Wild Duck) and Owen Pelesh (BA '13 - Lights Out).

Other Temple talents represented are fine artists like Caitlin Corkery (‘12), Lee Minora (‘10),  Leah Walton (MFA '15), Janus Stefanowicz (MFA '89), Carla Belver (‘69), Katherine O’Neill (‘05), Makoto Hirano(‘05), and Theater Exile Artistic Director Deborah Block (‘02).

The Barrymore Awards has served as Philadelphia’s professional theatre award program since 1995 and continues to shine a light on the city’s talents. This year’s awards will take place on November 5th at a new venue! The Bok Bar from 5-11 p.m. Childcare is provided from 6:30-10p.m and tickets are available on the Theatre Philadelphia website.

Temple University is a proud sponsor of this year’s Barrymore Awards and of the Temple University Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Play. The School of Theater, Film and Media Arts, congratulates all its students and alumni who are nominated.

Photo Credits: Orbiter 3 The Brownings -- photo by Kate Raines. Featuring nominations for David Ingram (Temple Faculty), (James Ijames MFA '06), Costumes by Marie Anne Chiment (Temple Faculty)