About the 2020 Helen Hayes Awards
The 36th annual Helen Hayes Awards will be celebrated over four weeks as a series of virtual events–both individual award announcements and a culmination video premiere. During this time, we will recognize the outstanding work on Washington-area stages in 2019, reflect on this unprecedented time in our industry, and gather our full community of theatre-makers through virtual spaces.
During the Helen Hayes Awards season, we will be raising money for the Taking Care COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. This Fund, started in March 2020, has surpassed its original goal of $330,000–which was distributed in microgrants to local theater professionals in need during the near shutdown of our industry. We now have a gift of $25,000–from generous community donors, foundations, and the board of directors of theatreWashington–to be matched by the community, raising an additional $50,000 for this Fund.
This year, though adjudicated as “actor” and “actress”, the 16 performer categories are being renamed and will be combined and presented as gender-inclusive Awards– listed as Outstanding Lead Performer and Outstanding Supporting Performer with two recipients in each category. Since 2018, The Helen Hayes Awards adjudication committee has been pursuing a process to make these performance Awards gender-inclusive. After research, consultation with other award organizations, and input from the community–including nonbinary and transgender performers–the committee has announced that beginning with the 2021 Helen Hayes Awards (for productions in 2020), the performer categories, will be adjudicated as gender-inclusive and expanded to ten nominees each (from the previous cap of five). Two recipients will be chosen for each category to maintain the current number of recipients that are chosen and honored each year. History of the Helen Hayes Awards and the Transition to Gender Inclusive Performance Categories.
Individual Award Announcements
The individual Helen Hayes Awards were announced via Zoom calls with nominees, presenters, and guests from the community from August 31-September 11, 2020. Award were grouped and included both the Helen and Hayes nominees/recipients in each category.
The full recording of all of the announcements by category are available on the theatreWashington YouTube channel.
Virtual Event – Friday, September 25, 2020
As a culmination of the 2020 Helen Hayes Awards celebrations, we will gather together for a virtual event. Co-hosted by Washington stage luminaries Felicia Curry and Naomi Jacobson, the event will include additional award announcements–for outstanding productions, ensembles, and the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company–in addition to other announcements, stories, remembrances, and special guest appearances. Even though it’s virtual, it’s the Helen Hayes Awards–you never know what will happen!