Alumni of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department were honored with 2017 Black Theater Alliance/Ira Aldridge Awards at the BTAA’s annual awards ceremony on Monday, October 23. The event was held at Columbia College Chicago‘s Conaway Center in Chicago’s South Loop.
In addition, the Target Community Relations Award for Best Ensemble was presented to the cast of Porchlight Music Theatre’s The Scottsboro Boys. The cast included alumni Columbia College Theatre Department alumni Jerome Riley Jr. ’16, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BFA Program in Musical Theatre Performance, and Jared Grant ’12, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Musical Theatre, as well as current Musical Theatre BA program student Izaiah Harris.
Also, the Negro Ensemble Company Award for Outstanding Stage Production went to ETA Creative Arts Foundation’s production of By the Apricot Trees, a two-hander that starred Columbia College alums Alicia Watley ’16 and Jelani Smith ’17, both graduates of the Theatre Department’s Acting BA program.
The Black Theater Alliance Awards were established in 1995 by Columbia College Chicago alumnus Vincent Williams ’03, a graduate of the BA Program in Performing Arts Management from what is now the Columbia College Chicago Business and Entrepreneurship Department. The awards were founded to honor African Americans who achieve excellence in theater, dance, and all areas of the performing arts in the Chicagoland area. The 2017 awards recognize Chicago-area stage productions produced and presented between August 1, 2016, and July 31, 2017. The awards also pay homage to Ira Aldridge (1807-1867), an African American actor famed for his performances in Shakespearean roles in Europe.