In Bonaly’s second year, Philly Theater offered so much for those of us who care about inclusion, accountability and making sure that all stories get told. Scrappy, unstoppable companies demanded a seat at the table and a place on stage for Asian Americans, Latinx people and black folks. And we saw so much more representation of queer and nonbinary people on our stages. We see a real change, driven by women and people of color demanding control over their own stories, and the entire theater landscape is richer for it.  

We were also overwhelmed with the quality of the work we saw this year. There was innovation in design, use of non traditional spaces and pushing the limits of what theater can be. Choosing a few standouts from over 50 shows and performances that our writers advocated for, and over 80 that we reviewed this year was not easy, but it was great to spend time remembering all the wonderful moments– both successes and beautiful failures– that we saw this year.

‘Surya’ Awards – Recognition for May 2017 to May 2018

Bonaly Recognition for Creation of Community Joy

Las Mujeres, Power Street Theater Company

Las Mujeres is a celebration of Latinidad. It made me feel more connected to mi gente and my history and thinking about how many other incredible historical Latinx figures I don’t know about.Every Latinx person in Philadelphia should be proud to know that our city is an artistic playground for plays like Las Mujeres.”

Bonaly Recognition of a Game Changing New Play

Running Numbers,  Theater in the X and Cheyenne Barboza

“It was an absolute treat to see this well made, structured play. The writing is very tight.  Playwright Cheyenne Barboza doesn’t leave any loose ends, and she doesn’t waste any time. The story is clear, the characters are motivated and truthful. There is so much craft in this script.”

Bonaly Recognition of Meaningful Children’s Theater

School Play, Tribe of Fools

This is a play for the kids who can’t sit still and watch plays. It’s a play for the teachers who yell at those kids. It’s a play for parents who wish to empathize with their kids who learn differently. It’s a play asking for alternatives to passive listening. It’s a play that says a lot without a lot of words.”

Bonaly Recognition of an Excellent Performance  

Niya Colbert, Running Numbers, Theater in the X

Niya Colbert! Who is this brilliant actress and why isn’t she in everything? I want a whole other play just about Mouse. What an honest, giving performance. And so funny! Colbert has amazing timing.

Bonaly Recognition for Excellent Direction

Maura Krause, Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please, The Greenfield Collective

“Direction on this show was smart and spare, and showed respect for the considerable vulnerability of the performers. Maura Krause is responsible for the next step in The Greenfield Collective evolution.”

Bonaly Recognition for Powerful Producing





Tiger Style,  Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists

I think it’s really important that this play exists right now, because I cannot remember a single time in my 10-year-history of being a part of this community that I’ve seen that many Asian faces onstage in a full production, that I heard an Asian-American story told by Asian Americans, fully embodied in a complete production..”

Bonaly Recognition of an Evolving Company

Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes, Almanac Dance Circus Theater

“Under Annie Wilson’s direction, this imaginative and risk taking company moved their work to the next level. The performers made magic with their bodies, building shapes and tools together like a colony of ants. It made me feel like maybe humans are meant to fit together in all of these different ways, but that only our egos get in the way.


Bonaly Recognition of a Fantastic Fringe Risk

Strange Tenants– Sam Tower + Ensemble (Ninth Planet)

“Clever use of an unusual venue, bold aesthetic choices, and a talented cast. This kind of risk is what Fringe was made for.”

Bonaly Recognition for Excellent Overall Production

The Gap, Azuka Theater

Hooray! A play for everyone! It was really exciting to see a queer person’s story told on stage, and to see that story told by someone who identifies with the queer experience.  I feel like we’re finally getting to a place of frank conversation about sexual assault, so THE GAP is pretty damn necessary. It engages with that topic and doesn’t let its audiences sit back.”

Bonaly Recognition of an Excellent Performance

Alice Yorke, The Gap, Azuka Theater

Alice Yorke slayed as the high-strung and fragile Nicole…she rode the arc that Emma crafted for her with grace, and her transition into a more-grounded Nicole later in the play was seamless.


Bonaly Recognition of an Excellent Performance

Jenna Kuerzi, Fishtown: A Hipster Noir, Tribe of Fools

As always, Kuerzi was totally tuned in as Claire. She doesn’t settle for genre tropes or easy answers. Her Claire was complicated, vulnerable and compelling.


Bonaly Recognition for Excellent Costume Design

Askai Kuruma, Las Mujeres, Power Street Theater Company

Asaki Kurama’s costumes nailed the styles of each character’s historical moment. Added touches like Minerva’s butterflies in homage to her sisters showed that Kuruma paid attention to the most minute details.


Bonaly Recognition for Overall Design  

Alexander Burns, John Burkland, Randy Redd, Christina Lorraine Bullard, Uncle Vanya, Quintessence

Redd’s rich soundscape, Burkland’s gentle lighting, Burns stark and evocative set and Bullard’s non traditional costuming choices come together to make a production full of rich design.


Unsung Heroes

We received about 100 nominations for unsung heroes. These names came up again and again.

Jamel Baker

Jamel Baker, is a stage manager whose gentle patience and kind leadership has helmed shows at Tribe of Fools for many years. Jamel is the stage manager we need in our lives. He is chill and gets shit done.”

Robin Stamey

Robin Stamey is doing god’s work as a production manager this year for a number of theaters that frankly should be kissing her ass. She deserves a break, more work as a lighting designer and some recognition.

Jill Harrison

I want to recognize Jill Harrison’s service as a theater artist and leader of Directors Gathering, which empowers emerging and seasoned directors alike in Philly by providing them with a myriad of creative resources..”


Melody Wong

“Melody Wong was an our incredible stage manager on Tiger Style. She’s super-competent at everything she does — she’s the one who holds everything together.”


Other Unsung Heroes Nominated:

Allison Heishman

Amber Emory

Andi Sotzing

Asaki Kuruma

Ashley Mills

Carlos Roa

Carrie Chapter

Christine Petrini

Daniel Park

Elaina DiMonaco

Elanor Safer

Emily Lynn

Gabriela Sanchez

Gabrielle Corsaro

Jackie Goldfinger

Jessica Darling

Jessica DalCanton

Jose Aviles

Kasual Owens-Fields

Katrina Shobe

Makoto Hirano

Mindy A. Early

Nia Benjamin

Polly Edelstein

Rachel O’Hanlon Rodriguez

Sam Tower

Sarah Nye


Sarah Mittledorf


Terry Mittleman


Wendy Rosenfeld


Zandra King

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