Faculty Members and Alumna Win Obies

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, June 3, 2019

In recent theatre news, Columbia swept the 2019 Obie Awards. Adjunct faculty member Leigh Silverman won an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Directing and alumna Heather Alicia Simms ‘96 won an Obie for Performance in two plays by faculty member Lynn Nottage at Signature Theatre, Fabulation, or the Re-education of Undine, and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.


The Obie Awards were created in 1955 to publicly acknowledge and encourage the growing Off-Broadway theatre movement. Just as they are today, the Obies were purposely structured with informal categories, to recognize persons and productions worthy of distinction in each theatre season. The Obie Awards are an important part of the long history of championing Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. 


Leigh Silverman has been involved with many Broadway plays including Violet (Roundabout; Tony nomination); Chinglish; Well. Encores Off Center: Really Rosie; The Wild Party; Violet. Recent Off Broadway works include Sweet Charity (New Group); Harry Clarke (Vineyard Theater); On The Exhale (Roundabout); The Outer Space (Public Theater); All The Ways to Say I Love You (MCC); The Way We Get By (Second Stage); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); American Hero (Williamstown Theater Festival; Second Stage); No Place to Go (Public Theater); Kung Fu (Signature Theatre); The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (Playwrights Horizons); The Madrid (MTC); Golden Child (Signature Theatre); In The Wake (CTG/Berkeley/Public Theater; Obie Award, Lortel nomination); The Call (Playwrights Horizons); Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons; Obie Award); From Up Here (MTC, Drama Desk nomination); Yellow Face (CTG/Public Theater). Recent Regional plays include Wild Goose Dreams (La Jolla Playhouse); Hurricane Diane (Two River Theater); Cardboard Piano (ATL); Chinglish (Goodman Theater; Berkeley Rep; South Coast Rep). Upcoming works include Soft Power by Jeanine Tseori and David Henry Hwang.


Heather Alicia Simms’ past stage credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and A Raisin in the Sun, among others, while her film credits include movies such as Broken Flowers and Red Hook Summer. Her TV credits include The Good Wife and Law and Order, and most recently, Simms guest starred in Luke Cage.


Lynn Nottage is also the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, and the Helen Hayes Award, among others. Her plays include By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lily Award, Drama Desk Nomination); Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Audelco, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award); Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award); Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers; and POOF!.