United Solo™ is proud to present the annual United Solo Special Award, which honors outstanding solo performers. These are artists who create captivating performances with sensitivity, audacity, and wisdom. They remind us of immense power of a singular performer, and the possibilities of solo storytelling.

 

 
United Solo, the world’s largest solo theatre festival, named Ian McKellen as the winner of the 2020 United Solo Special Award. McKellen was awarded for his solo performance, “Ian McKellen on Stage: Tolkien, Shakespeare and You!” which toured across the United Kingdom last year before coming to London’s West End for a limited run.
 
“Hello from London!”, McKellen began, as he accepted the award virtually, “Thank you so much for the United Solo Special Award. What a wonderful present for the holiday time.” He shared his thoughts on solo performance and his show and wished the United Solo community happy holidays.
 
Sir Ian McKellen will join past United Solo Special Award recipients, including Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), Billy Crystal (2014), James Lecesne (2015), Staceyann Chin in collaboration with Cynthia Nixon (2016), Michael Moore (2017), Renée Taylor (2018), and Aasif Mandvi (2019).
 

In 2020, the United Solo Academy has nominated four performers for the Special Award: Laura Linney, Bellina Logan, Ian McKellen, and Andrew Scott.

 

Laura Linney’s Broadway performance of “My Name Is Lucy Barton,” produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, is an American premiere adapted by Rona Munro from the bestselling novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout. Ms. Linney plays Lucy Barton, a woman who finds her mother at the foot of her hospital bed following an operation, after not having seen her for years. The New York Times hailed Ms. Linney as “luminous” for her performance.

Bellina Logan earns a nomination for her performance in “Confessions of a Mulatto Love Child,” her critically-acclaimed solo show. In the performance, Ms. Logan explores the intricate story of a daughter, her eccentric mother, and the powerful bond they developed during a life-changing, cross-country road trip. Ms. Logan’s story is a shining example of how to reconcile a racially-divided nation. Her show was highly recommended by critics and awarded by All About Solo with a Critics’ Choice recognition.

After touring his solo show last year, Sir Ian McKellen took his solo performance, “Ian McKellen on Stage: Tolkien, Shakespeare, and You!” to London’s West End for a limited run. The show is in celebration of McKellen’s 80th birthday and explores anecdotes and stories from his prolific career in the entertainment industry— from the stage to the screen. “Ian McKellen on Stage” shines for its conceptual brilliance and acting finesse.

Andrew Scott’s virtual performance of “Sea Wall,” which was available for streaming shortly after the start of the pandemic, portrays solo performance in an entirely new light. Scott portrays Alex, a man suffering from emotional torture, and depicts life’s inevitable ups and downs. His show is an exemplary proof of how performing arts can quickly and effectively adapt to challenging times with resilience, emotion, and meaningful commentary.

*Nominees have been recommended by the United Solo Academy as well as independent theatergoers.

**Winners are selected by an independent panel of over eighty theatre professionals.

***United Solo encourages enthusiasts of the solo form to suggest their favorite performers for the annual United Solo Special Award. Feel free to send us a brief email that includes the name of the performer, the title of the event, website (if applicable), date and place it was performed, and the reason for your choice. You may suggest an artist from many genres of solo performance open to the public (e.g. storytelling, puppetry, dance, movement, concert, musical, spoken word, multimedia, sketch, improv, stand‑up, lecture, magic, performance art, online video, TV special, DVD release, traditional play: drama or comedy). Send your recommendation to: uAward‑recommendation@unitedsolo.org (THIS IS NOT A WAY TO VOTE FOR THE AUDIENCE AWARD. The annual United Solo Special Award is different from United Solo Audience Award. To vote for a favorite show in at the festival, follow the link on the right sidebar).

 

Photo of Bellina Logan by Ken Sawyer Photography. Photo of Sir Ian McKellen by Jack Macguire. Photo of Andrew Scott by Paulae (CC BY-SA 4.0). All Creative Commons licenses available at www.creativecommons.org.

 

More about other winners and nominees: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019