The Drama League has been around since 1935, and it has been a pivotal part of the theater industry for generations. It’s not often that such a prestigious organization changes its age-old practices and programs, but that is exactly what The Drama League of New York is doing soon. This is no random change, though. The Drama League is honoring one of its most accomplished and influential members; Irene Gandy.
The Drama League will be changing the name of its esteemed Drama League Stage Director Assistantships program to the Irene Gandy Stage Director Assistantships program. While the core focus of the program and its function will remain the same, the name change will honor one of the most decorated BIPOC individuals in theater.
Irene Gandy’s achievements are among the finest in the industry. For starters, she has been a pivotal team member in the production of over 100 Broadway productions. Her career started in 1968 as part of the Negro Ensemble; meaning that she has worked on more Broadway experiences than years she’s been active. She’s also the 2020 Tony recipient of the prestigious Tony Honors Excellence in Theater Award. Beyond those major milestones, she also has an impressive list of once-in-a-lifetime accomplishments.
Namely, she’s the only woman to receive a Sardi’s caricature. She also has multiple Tony wins in various categories, and she’s the only black woman to receive the ATPAM.
Since 1968, Irene Gandy has wowed the world by taking the helm behind the scenes of some of our favorite Broadway productions, and she has guided some of the impressive talents that entered the theater world in recent years.
When asked by the press, Gabriel Stelian-Shanks recounted what he said about the change, and it resonates with the rest of the world. “Today, this program identifies the next generation of Irene Gandys – talented Black, Latine, AAPI, Indigenous, and Global Majority artists at the beginning of their professional careers, who only lack one thing – access to the highest levels of theatrical production and resources to support them as they rise.” Gabriel Stelian-Shanks and Irene’s peers Bevin Ross and Bonnie Comley are excited to move forward with the name change.
This change to the name of the stage director assistantship program at The Drama League isn’t a major change to the overall goal of the program, but it is one that holds significant sentimental value and honors one of the nation’s greatest black influencers. Irene Gandy has made a career entertaining the world and building the next generation of talent, and she is truly worthy of this honor.