Outstanding Service Award

David C. Bryant Outstanding Service
Recognizes individual members of AACT for significant, valuable, and lasting service to community theatre

2016 Honoree
Tom Cordingley
Helena, MT

Tom CordingleyTom Cordingley has been involved at Grandstreet Theatre in Helena, Montana for the last 30 years. Besides realizing in college that "theatre geeks throw the best parties," it was obvious to him that being part of this strange and enthusiastic group could refocus, and even direct, many young people to a safe and inclusive environment.  He has been an actor and technician, served on the board (including as board president), and in 1995 became Managing Director. Tom is an advocate for children and has paid for countless students to attend the Grandstreet Theatre School. He served as AACT's Montana State Contact for many years. Even in retirement, Tom continues to volunteer as an actor, technician, and fundraiser--stopping by to lend a hand by picking up a drill gun, speaking to an entire group of students, or with his wife Lisa providing scholarships and encouragement to young people interested in theatre. "Theatre has everything to do with life skills," he says. "I am proud to watch those kids who weren't sure where their crazy lives were headed, and see them become confident and in control. That's theatre."

2016 Honorees
Zada & Earl Jahnsen
Bulverde, TX

Zada & Earl JahnsenZada & Earl Jahnsen caught the theatre bug when their son was in drama in the 1970s. In 1984, impressed by the quality of the Society Theatre and Arts Group, Etc. Inc. (S.T.A.G.E.) in rural Texas, the Jahnsen family built the organization a theatre. The property is on a stipend lease to the theatre, and remains active to this day. Over their almost 40 years of involvement, Zada and Earl have built sets, directed, sewed costumes, made props, prepared programs, paid the bills, and cooked four-course meals for every performance of the dinner theatre. Zada served on the Texas Nonprofit Theatres (TNT) Board of Governors for several years, and the Jahnsens have provided scholarships for volunteers to attend annual TNT conferences. Zada & Earl have provided a quality space to present excellent theatre, made sure their volunteers had the best available training, involved young people, and planned for their succession to ensure the theatre would continue to survive and thrive. In their words, "We have seen over and over again the importance of artists/performers having a place to grow and display their talents. But, the most heartwarming stories and experiences have come from members of the audience who unexpectedly had an experience that touched their lives."

Previous Recipients
1978  Robert E. Gard* (Madison, WI)
1979  Art Cole* (Midland, TX)
1980  John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1981  Jeanne Adams Wray* (Stillwater, OK)
1982  Robert Plumb* (Broken Arrow, OK)
1983  Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1984  Kay Fliehr* (Edina, MN)
1985  Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
1987  David Gooder* (Downers Grove, IL)
1988  Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1989  Al* & Elise King (Clinton, IA)
1990  Bea Miller* (Mempis, TN)
1991  Shirley Harbin (Detroit, MI)
1992  L. Newell Tarrant* (Raleigh, NC)
1993  Sandra Karnack (Minot, ND)
1994  Charles Chesnut* (Chappaqua, NY)
1995  John Wills* (Spokane, WA)
1996  John Viars (Des Moines, IA)
1997  JoAnne Nissen (Racine, WI)
1998  Donna Norberg (Minneapolis, MN)
1999  Jerry Paquette (US Army)
2000  Bill Razo (Hobbs, NM)

2001  Jeanne Stein* (Los Alamos, NM)
2002  Ginny Winsor (Omaha, NE)
2003  Dawn Enders* (La Crosse, WI)
2004  Eleanor Smith (Columbus, OH)
2005  Norm Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2006  Steve Walpert (Fort Gordon, GA)
2007  David Allen (Memphis, TN)
           Nick Credgington (Fort Belvoir, VA)
           Ginger Heath (Charlotte, NC)
2008  Vanita Rae Smith (Honolulu, HI)
2009  Dane Winters (US Army, Heidelberg)
2010  Dwight Martin (Honolulu, HI)
2011  Sherman C. Ward (Alexandria Bay, NY)
2012  Paul Nelson (Olean, NY)
           Ron Paoletti* (US Army, Europe)
2013  Christi Thomas (Sidney, OH)
2014   Harriet Friedman (Waltham, MA)
           Dotti Peek* (New Palestine, IN)
2015   Victoria Hanrahan (Ansbach, Germany)
2015   Lou Vander Have (Grand Rapids, MI)

          * Deceased

David C. Bryant

David C. BryantThe David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award was established in 1978 to honor one of the original founders and the third President (1965-68) of ACTA (later AACT).  Dave was the Artistic Director of the Sheboygan (WI) Community Players from 1957 until his death in 1971.  Under his influence in Sheboygan, according to its 50th anniversary book, "more people were involved onstage, backstage and in the audience.  There was a marked liveliness to the theatrical fare.  Even the printed playbills of the period reflect creativity, individuality and a sense of panache."  Dave instituted the production of a musical every year and was instrumental in the design of their new thrust stage in order to provide "closer visual, auditory and emotional contact with the actors."  His influence in Sheboygan was so powerful that when a new Artistic Director joined the staff in 1981, 10 years after Dave's untimely death, "Dave was all I heard about, even though there were four Directors of Theatre between us."

Essentially a "let-us-never-forget-the-work-of-those-who-have-gone-before-us" award, it is given for "significant and valuable service to community theatre" on a local, regional or national level.  This service may be artistic, business or ethical in nature.  It may be for a local theatre or the field of community theatre in general, but it must be significant and have a lasting impact.


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