In 2013, the United Solo board has nominated seven performers for the Special Award: Alan Cumming in Macbeth (National Theater of Scotland, Lincoln Center, and Broadway), Alec Mapa in Baby Daddy (National Tour), Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers (Broadway), Anthony Rapp in Without You (National and International Tour), William Shatner in Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It (Broadway and National Tour), Fiona Shaw in The Testament of Mary (Broadway), and Holland Taylor in Ann (Lincoln Center).
The 2013 United Solo Special Award was presented to Fiona Shaw at the ceremony held on November 24, 2013 at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City. Fiona Shaw accepted this recognition in person for her outstanding achievements in the art of solo performance. Deborah Warner, the director of Ms. Shaw’s solo performance The Testament of Mary, attended the ceremony as well.
After receiving the award, Fiona Shaw shared her gratitude and inspiring remarks with performers, guests, the festival team, and press gathered at the ceremony. Commenting on solo performances as a genre, Ms. Shaw said “They are concertos and the audience is the orchestra, as much as anything else.”
Fiona Shaw joined the list of award recipients, including Anna Deavere Smith for Let Me Down Easy (2010), Patti LuPone for The Gypsy in My Soul (2011), and John Leguizamo for Ghetto Klown (2012).
A versatile and chameleon‑like performer, Scottish‑born Alan Cumming (photo by Francis Hill) never fails to surprise audiences by reinventing classic characters like the Emcee in Cabaret, for which Mr. Cumming won accolades in London and New York. Mr. Cumming as Macbeth in the Scottish play seems both a provocative and inevitable marriage of actor and role, but in this electrifying one‑man adaptation, he plays every other character as well – a testament to his fearlessness and virtuosity.
Actor and comedian Alec Mapa, a longtime contributor to countless films and television shows, has made an indelible contribution as an advocate for the LGBT community. He received the Davidson Valentini GLAAD award for his humanitarian work, and toured the country to raise funds for the Human Rights Campaign and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. His recent autobiographical one‑man show Baby Daddy is a compelling tale of his experiences with adoption and parenthood.
It is difficult to overstate the legendary Bette Midler‘s contributions to popular culture, from her award‑winning albums to her film work to her humanitarianism. Having made her Broadway debut in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof, Ms. Midler returns to Broadway for the first time in over thirty years with I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, a solo play about the captivating Hollywood talent agent.
Anthony Rapp, best‑known and beloved for originating the role of Mark Cohen in Rent, is more recently recognized for the remarkable Without You, a memoir and autobiographical solo show about Mr. Rapp’s early experiences with Rent and his relationship with his mother. This heartfelt performance is a thoughtful rumination on identity, memory, and grief that resonated with audiences worldwide.
William Shatner became a celebrated household name with his portrayal of Captain Kirk in television and film versions of the science fiction phenomenon Star Trek. Mr. Shatner reflected on his distinguished life and career in the solo show Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It, which played Broadways and nationwide, and reminded audiences of the vast scope of Mr. Shatner’s contribution to American culture over many decades.
The preeminent Irish actress Fiona Shaw is renowned for her interpretation of classic roles including Medea, Hedda Gabler, and Mother Courage. In The Testament of Mary, she takes on the challenge of perhaps the most iconic female figure with her portrayal of the Virgin Mary twenty years after the crucifixion. Ms. Shaw’s delicate and provocative performance depicts a grieving mother whose finds her personal tragedy encroached upon by other agendas.
Holland Taylor, who has had a diverse and outstanding career in theater, television and film, has written and is performing a solo play about Ann Richards, the larger‑than‑life charismatic Texas governor whose tenure preceded George W. Bush’s. Ms. Taylor, known also for her charitable work, won an Emmy for her role in The Practice in 1999, and her return to Broadway is a welcome and exciting tribute from one indomitable woman to another.