United Solo Special Award 2022

United Solo™ is proud to present the annual United Solo Special Award, which honors outstanding solo artists who performed their shows outside the Festival. 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.

On behalf of the United Solo Academy, Dr. Omar Sangare, artistic director of the festival, presented the United Solo Special Award to Dael Orlandersmith for her performance in “Until the Flood.” In her acceptance speech Ms. Orlandersmith said, “I’m more than honored, and very humbled — because I’m looking at the other nominees, and to be in this company I’m in…oh yes! And I’m glad also that you acknowledge this genre of theatre, as many people don’t recognize how challenging solo theatre is. Thank you so very much for the work you do!”

In 2022, the United Solo Academy has nominated eight performers for the Special Award: Kathleen Chalfant in The Year of Magical Thinking, Melissa Etheridge in My Window – A Journey Through Life, Douglas McGrath in Everything’s Fine, Dael Orlandersmith in Until the FloodChazz Palminteri in A Bronx Tale, David Strathairn in Remember this: The Lesson of Jan Karski, Cecily Strong in The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe, and Kathleen Turner in Finding My Voice.

Kathleen Chalfant

In The Year of Magical Thinking, an adaptation of Joan Didion’s bestselling memoir directed by Jonathan Silverstein, Kathleen Chalfant (Law & Order, House of Cards, Duplicity) illustrates the complicated yet relatable experience of loss, drawing an intimate portrait of love, pain, and resilience. Directed by Jonathan Silverstein, this powerful production has been staged for non-traditional theatre spaces such as living rooms, libraries, and other community spaces across New York City.

Melissa Etheridge

Through all means of theatrical expression, Grammy and Oscar winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge performs the engaging story of her life in My Window – A Journey Through Life, a solo performance written by Etheridge and directed by Amy Tinkham. In strict chronological order, My Window illustrates Etheridge’s story from her childhood in Leavenworth, Kansas to her career highlights as a trailblazer in the music industry.

Douglas McGrath

Oscar-nominated writer and actor Douglas McGrath, celebrated for his work on Saturday Night Live, Bullets Over Broadway, and Emma, earns a nomination for his role in Everything’s Fine, a solo play written by McGrath, directed by John Lithgow, and produced by Daryl Roth and Tom Werner. In this autobiographical play, McGrath tells the story of his life as a teenager in Midland, Texas. At once touching and deeply funny, McGrath’s show retains its sincerity while leading its audience on a wild, high-octane adventure.

Dael Orlandersmith

In Until The Flood, Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith creates an arresting theatrical experience which explores the social uprising and activism following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014. Pulling from extensive interviews from residents of Ferguson, Missouri, Orlandersmith tells a haunting yet compassionate story which serves as an important reminder of America’s continuing struggle to achieve social justice in the face of institutional racism.

Chazz Palminteri

In A Bronx Tale, Oscar-nominated actor and playwright Chaz Palminteri transitions effortlessly between characters and personalities, leading his audience on an autobiographical journey that examines Palminteri’s broad spectrum of human experience. Beginning as a love letter to his Italian-American upbringing in New York City, the play takes a series of turns which require Palminteri to balance the forces of morality with community expectations.

David Strathairn

In Remember This, directed by Derek Goldman, Oscar-nominee ​​David Strathairn portrays Polish resistance fighter and World War II hero Jan Karski as he struggles to convince the Allies of the enormous stakes of the Holocaust. ​​Strathairn masterfully navigates questions of truth in a treacherous and difficult world, animating Karski’s eventful biography while rigorously illustrating the horrors of war.

Cecily Strong

Grammy and Emmy-nominated actor Cecily Strong, prominently known for her decade-long contributions to Saturday Night Live, earns a nomination for her performance in The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe. This solo show,originally written in 1985 by Jane Wagner for her longtime partner (and current wife) Lily Tomlin, has been revived for the stage with Strong as the solo actor, weaving together the stories of ten individual characters. Over the course of the play, these seemingly disparate stories converge on each other, revealing multiple avenues of connection and resonance between them.

Kathleen Turner

In Finding My Voice, two-time Tony nominee Kathleen Turner takes her audience on a remarkable behind-the-scenes journey throughout her prolific career as a singer and actor. Featuring songs from the Great American Songbook, including “Let’s Fall in Love,” “I’d Rather Be Sailing,” and “On the Street Where You Live,” Turner’s deeply personal show is packed with humor, excitement, and one-of-a-kind insights from her nearly fifty-year career in show business.

This year’s recipient of the United Solo Special Award has been announced at the United Solo Gala on November 20, 2022 at 7pm at Theatre Row NYC. The winner joined such illustrious past honorees of the United Solo Special Award as: 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), Aasif Mandvi (2019), Ian McKellen (2020), and Lee Roy Reams (2021).