Gerrells wins theatre award at ACT Fall Summit

Published 4:03 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Alabaster resident and South City Theatre Artistic Director Sue Ellen Gerrells was one of several award recipients at the 2019 Alabama Conference of Theatre Fall Summit hosted by the University of Montevallo Department of Theatre on Aug. 24.

More than 80 theater artists and educators from throughout the state attended.

The day opened with a Diversity and Inclusion panel moderated by Roy Lightner, UAB Theatre.

Panelists included: Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre – New Works Festival and Diversity Casting; Kristy Meanor, Wetumpka Depot – Penguin Project; Carlton Bell II, Birmingham Black Repertory Theatre – “Choir Boy;” Karla Koskinen, UAB – Playwright of the new work “Savage;” Dr. Allison Upshaw, Black Belt Community Foundation Arts Program Officer.

“We all have this gift of storytelling, and we need to listen to our communities and tell their stories,” Cromwell said. “When I listen to a community, I try to meet with that community’s leaders and ask, ‘How can I help you tell your story?’ We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we gracefully give the gift of storytelling to bring that community’s issues to the stage?’ We should look for opportunities to inspire conversations and ask ourselves how we use our art to inspire those conversations.”

Meanor, who chairs the Alabama Conference of Theatre, led attendees through the annual meeting.

Revel Gholston, vice chair, presented a slate of nominees approved by voice vote.

The five divisions broke out for planning sessions led by their respective chairs:

  • Secondary/High School – Sara Argiro
  • Theatre for Youth/Middle School – Cheryl Pointer Jones
  • Community Festival – Adam Miller
  • University/College – Roy Lightner
  • Professional/Vendor – Michael Howley

Following a networking lunch, attendees reconvened and hosted the 2019 ACT Awards.  Gholston hosted the event and presented the Hall of Fame award; Meanor presented the Marian Gallaway Award; and Sara Argiro presented the Educator Award.

ACT Award recipient Sue Ellen Gerrells is pictured with presenter Kristy Meanor. (Contributed)

Alabama Conference of Theatre Award Winners:

  • Alabama Theatre Hall of Famehonoring Pioneers in Alabama Theatre: 2019 – Lonny Harrison, Montgomery.
  • Marian Gallaway Awardfor their contributions to Theatre in Alabama: 2019 – Sue Ellen Gerrells, Alabaster.
  • Dorothy Schwartz Outstanding Educator Award: 2019 – Rebecca Britton, Mobile.

Andy Meadows, arts education specialist with the Alabama Department of Education updated everyone on the state of theatre in the public schools.

Alabama State Council on the Arts Performing Arts Program Director Yvette Smeadly spoke about the upcoming meeting to distribute grant awards.

To wrap up the day, each division reported back from the breakout sessions and announced upcoming dates:

  • Oct. 18-19: College & University Festival and SETC Screening Auditions at UAB.
  • Nov. 1-3: ACTFest ’19: Community Theatre Festival at Theatre Tuscaloosa.
  • Nov. 2: District High School Theatre Festivals – District 1: Lee High School, District 2: Corner High School, District 3: Cullman High School, District 4: Opelika Arts Center, District 5: Baker High School, District 6: Mountain Brook High School, District 7: Northeast Alabama Community College.
  • Nov. 29: 2018 Trumbauer Theatre Festival.
  • Dec. 1: Troy University.
  • Spring TBA: Theatre for Youth Festival, St. James Theatre, Montgomery.
  • Spring TBA: Theatre for Youth Festival, Collins Intermediate School, Scottsboro.

For more information about ACT, visit