Outstanding Service Award
Tom 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."
Zada & 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."
|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)
David C. Bryant
The 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.