McCarter’s Emily Mann Named 2011 Person of the Year by National Theatre Conference

Emily Mann. Photo credit: Merri Cyr.

Playwright and McCarter Theatre Artistic Director Emily Mann has been named the 2011 Person of the Year by the National Theatre Conference.

The award recognizes individuals who have made an outstanding and noteworthy contribution to the theater.

An award-winning director and playwright, Mann is in her 22nd season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre.

“The entire McCarter community congratulates Emily on receiving this prestigious honor,” said McCarter Theatre Board President Brian McDonald  in a press release about the award. “This wonderful recognition validates what our audiences and supporters have known for years – Emily Mann is an extraordinary talent and a national treasure.”

Under Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for outstanding regional theater. Her numerous McCarter directing credits include Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics with Jimmy Smits (also on Broadway); the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon with Kristine Nielsen (also off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons); the world premiere of Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I with Tyne Daly and Brian Murray at McCarter, (also Playwrights Horizons with Elizabeth Ashley); the world premiere of Sarah Treem’s The How and The Why with Mercedes Ruehl; All Over with Rosemary Harris (also Roundabout Theatre Company; 2003 Obie Award for Directing); A Doll House with Cynthia Nixon; The Cherry Orchard with Jane Alexander, John Glover, and Avery Brooks (also adapted); and Three Sisters with Frances McDormand, Linda Hunt, and Mary Stuart Masterson.

Her plays include Execution of Justice (supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship; winner of Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson awards; nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Circle awards); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Mrs. Packard (recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays); Greensboro (A Requiem); and Annulla, An Autobiography.

Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; winner of NAACP and Joseph Jefferson awards). For writing the screenplay to Having Our Say, Mann earned both a Peabody Award and Christopher Award. A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Mann is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by Theatre Communications Group, Inc.

This season, Mann’s directing credits include the world premiere of Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr at McCarter, and the world premiere of The Convert by Danai Gurira, a co-production with McCarter Theatre, Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group. In the spring of 2012, Ms. Mann will direct A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway with Wood Harris, Nicole Ari Parker, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Blair Underwood, and her adaption of The House of Bernard Alba will be produced in January 2012 at The Almeida Theater in London.

Other recipients of the National Theatre Conference Person of the Year Award, which have been presented since 1967, include such theater legends as Edward Albee, Sir Peter Hall, John Guare, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Papp, Colleen Dewhurst, August Wilson, and Estelle Parsons.

The National Theatre Conference, founded in 1925, is a cooperative association of distinguished leaders of the American Theater. The conference operates as a theatrical “think tank” and meets annually to review and confer on matters pertaining to the welfare and development of the theatre and to honor outstanding achievement of organizations and individuals in the field.


  1. You know, I’m happy for her success, and clearly she runs an active, creative, and progressive theater. But I’ve always found her work stiff and wooden. I find her directing amateurish, and her writing boorish, and actually stopped going, even though we used to buy season tickets. I really don’t mean to diminish her success, which is obvious among her theater peers, but I guess I just don’t get it. I find her work as an artist lacking; perhaps has a theater director and producer it’s wonderful, but the writing and directing, eh, not so much.

  2. In response to Mr. V.D. … a little free counsel: Anger which seeks neither justice nor meaning is poison to the soul. I do hope you someday address the deep, true and initial source of your seething hostility, passive-aggressive interpersonal dynamics and relationship failures. All this gleaned from just the one hundred (and some odd) words of your poorly constructed paragraph (you should have met me when I was practicing … damn, I was good!). By the way, if you wish to have your written words taken seriously you may want to consider a grammar and spell-check program. Otherwise, leave the writing to the gifted professionals like Emily Mann. As you are an easy read (and oh so predictable) … I look forward to a characteristically venemous and intellectually turgid reply as further evidence of your impotent rage. After all, those who do the real work of the theatre (Queen’s English) deserve a little free entertainment … both tragedy and comedy. We’ve suffered through the public display of your personal unhappiness. Now, it’s time for you to fall upon your dagger, be hoist with your own petard and … make us laugh. Kudos without end for your part in this Divine Comedy. I thank you (and the Creator) in advance for any recurring role you may wish to play.

  3. Hear! Hear! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Good Dr. Chaney, I have three things to say about your work: Love it! Love it! Love it! I sense that you share in my passion for the pursuit of the well turned phrase and finishing flourish. Therefore, may I respectfully suggest that you close your opening act with this challenge to all comers and theater-goers: “Go ahead, make my play.”

  4. V.D. : I feel that I can also speak for Art in saying that we, too, are happy to be untouched by your dis-ease.

  5. V.D. : As well you should! On this persuasive point I must agree. It is certainly best that you never come in contact with me. However, I must observe that your grammar, syntax, punctuation and spelling have greatly improved during your brief exchange with good Dr. Chaney. Let me be the first to pronounce him ‘The Miracle Worker’.

Comments are closed.