In the culmination of a seven-week run that featured over seventy-one-person theatre productions from across the globe, the world’s largest solo theatre festival concluded its thirteenth season at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York on November 20, with this year’s awards gala. On behalf of the United Solo Academy, Omar Sangare, artistic director of the festival, presented the United Solo Special Award to Dael Orlandersmith for her performance in “Until the Flood.”
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Orlandersmith said, “I'm more than honored, and very humbled — because I’m looking at the other nominees, and to be in this company I’m in…oh yes! And I’m glad also that you acknowledge this genre of theatre, as many people don’t recognize how challenging solo theatre is. Thank you so very much for the work you do!” Dael Orlandersmith will join illustrious honorees of the United Solo Special Award including Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), Billy Crystal (2014), James Lecesne (2015), Staceyann Chin in collaboration with Cynthia Nixon (2016), Michael Moore (2017), Renée Taylor (2018), Aasif Mandvi (2019), Ian McKellen (2020), and Lee Roy Reams (2021).
This year’s season, which debuted on October 4, 2022, offered a robust selection of performances in categories including drama, comedy, stand‑up, musical theatre, dance, performance art and others. Many shows sold out and received additional performance dates by popular demand. Over half the shows at the festival were presented for the first time on a New York City stage, and several pieces made their world premieres.
In addition to the Special Award, the festival presented awards to its participants in the categories of Best One-Man and One-Woman Show, Best Direction, Best Actor and Actress, as well as the United Solo Audience Award, chosen in an online vote by festival attendees. The online publication All About Solo presented its Critics’ Choice Award, awarded by its staff writers.
This year’s gala began with a special presentation of “She Has Wings,” a song cycle by composer Michele Brourman, performed by Wendy-Lane Bailey, and directed by festival artistic director Omar Sangare. Sangare and Bailey conceived the show as a tribute to this season’s artists and the stories they have shared.
In its thirteenth season, United Solo once again supported members of the performing arts community by fundraising for the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly known as The Actors Fund). The Entertainment Fund helps professionals during times of transition and has been especially vital to the theatre community throughout the pandemic.
In addition, the festival is now accepting submissions for its 2023 Spring Season at Theatre Row. Artists and companies can apply at: https://unitedsolo.org/nyc-spring-2023
The full list of award winners at the 2022 United Solo Festival includes the following:
United Solo Special Award: Dael Orlandersmith in “Until the Flood”
Best Production: “The Shot” performed by Sharon Lawrence
Best One-Woman Show: “La Divina: The Last Interview of Maria Callas” by Shelley Cooper
Best One-Man Show: “Love/Love” by Josh Raff
The United Solo Audience Choice Award: “The Shot” performed by Sharon Lawrence
Best International Show: “The Child Behind the Eyes” performed by Manca Ogorevc
Best Actress: Sharon Lawrence in “The Shot”
Best Actor: Raoul Bhaneja in “Hamlet (solo)”
Best Storyteller: Michael Irvin Pollard in “By The Light”
Best Direction: Gretchen Cryer
Best Encore: “DISORDERED…” performed by Bella Florence
Best Drama: “RAG HEAD: An American Story” performed by Sundeep Morrison
Best Musical: “Doing Time With Lavinia” performed by Susan Campanaro
Best Comedy: “FURY!” performed by Lauren Bone Noble
Best Physical Theatre: “HOMO AMERICANUS” performed by Paul Cimpoieru
Best Storytelling Show: “Hold On Tight: A Love Story” performed by Meg Flather
Best Autobiographical Show: “Un-M-Othered…” by Liz DeBetta
Best New York Premiere: “Norwid’s Return” performed by Marek Probosz
All About Solo Critics’ Award: “Too young to be a widow” by Susana Hornos
Best Emerging Actor: Leeth Singhage AKA Shoodie in “GROWTHesque”
Best Emerging Actress: Tami Evans in “Off The Rails”
Best Festival Debut: Kathryn Taylor Smith in “A Mile In My Shoes”
Best Concert: “Fingernails in the Side of the Cliff” performed by Tina deVaron
Best Composer: Lynn Portas, “Doing Time With Lavinia”
Best Song: “She Has Wings” by Michele Brourman & Adryan Russ
Best Lighting Design: Vicky Scott, “The Shot”
*The winner of the 2022 All About Solo Critics’ Award was chosen by the staff writers of www.allaboutsolo.com
**The winner of the Audience Award was chosen in an online poll at United Solo
***Winners are selected by an independent panel of over eighty theatre professionals, including The United Solo Academy Members