Columbia Theatre Artists Win 66th Annual Obie Awards

Anastasia Ellis
March 10, 2023

The winners of the 66th Annual Obie Awards, selected from over 400 productions spanning 2020–2022, were announced on February 23, 2023. The awards, which were presented on February 27, honored the work of several Columbia faculty, alumni, and students. 

Directing alumnus Saheem Ali ’07 was presented with the award for Sustained Achievement in Directing. The productions for which he received the recognition include Nollywood Dreams, written by Jocelyn Bioh ’08, Merry Wives (for which Bioh served as the adapter), Romeo y Julieta, and the Off-Broadway run of Fat Ham. Fat Ham will begin previews on Broadway next month, again directed by Ali and starring Acting alumnus Marcel Spears ’15. Both Ali and Spears will make their Broadway debuts with the production.

Professor Anne Bogart received a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the 30 years of wonderful art and inspiration that she and SITI Company shared with the Off-Broadway community. Bogart was one of the co-founders of SITI Company, which officially closed its doors after its 30th season concluded in the winter of 2022. The Obie Awards emphasized Bogart’s work in sharing Viewpoints and the significance of true collaboration with the theatre world. She and SITI Company built a training program that has inspired nearly every theatre school nationwide, and the legacy of SITI Company will live on through an active archive and online support platform. 

The Obie Awards judges panel included Adjunct Assistant Professor Lisa Peterson and Acting alumna Heather Alicia Simms ’96. Playwriting alumna Pie Alexandra Soto ’20 served as the creative producer for the awards. 

The Obie Awards were founded by The Village Voice in 1956; the American Theatre Wing joined The Village Voice in 2015 to co-produce the awards, which serve as a celebration of the very best Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theatre. The Obies intend to honor the boundary-pushing theatre that happens in the city’s more intimate performing spaces, support emerging work, and validate Off-Broadway as an important theatre league of its own. The categories recognized are purposely informal so as to create unlimited possibilities for crediting worthy creators and productions; the awards regularly pay tribute to diverse artists who bring important, progressive work to New York City.