In 2015, the United Solo Academy has nominated five performers for the Special Award: Tom Dugan, Cush Jumbo, James Lecesne, Benjamin Scheuer, and Wanda Sykes.
The 2015 United Solo Special Award was presented to James Lecesne at the ceremony held on November 22, 2015 at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City.
Mr. Lecesne accepted the award with words of encouragement for solo performers “I really applaud you all for using your voice, speaking out, and telling your stories, it’s the greatest thing you can do in your life. Thank you so much for this honor.” James Lecesne joins previous recipients of this award: Anna Deavere Smith (2010), Patti LuPone (2011), John Leguizamo (2012), Fiona Shaw (2013), and Billy Crystal (2014).
In Wiesenthal, his play about Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Tom Dugan explored themes of justice and retribution, and shed light on one of the most important detective stories of the twentieth century. Mr. Dugan sensitively depicted moral horrors and triumphs, and showed us that the greatest hope can spring from the deepest sorrow.
Cush Jumbo juxtaposed personal stories of prejudice and perseverance with the life of legendary entertainer and civil rights pioneer Josephine Baker in Josephine and I. Courageously rising to the starry level of her show business predecessor, Ms. Jumbo reminded us of how race and gender affects entertainment careers, then and now.
In a warm and humane adaptation of his novel The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, James Lecesne told the story of a teenager’s disappearance. Mr. Lecesne vividly evoked a community in the throes of tragedy, united in admiration for a young man who paid the ultimate price for being proudly different.
Through soulful storytelling and music, Benjamin Scheuer dramatized his troubled relationship with a difficult father, and shared his journey of coming of age and self-discovery in The Lion. Mr. Scheuer imbued his candid memoir of hardship and redemption with elegance and humor.
In her stand-up, as well as in her appearances in television and film, comedian Wanda Sykes has been an outspoken and provocative commentator on politics, race, and sexuality. A passionate activist for civil rights causes, Ms. Sykes has made an indelible contribution with her latest special, Wanda Sykes: I’ma Be Me.