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Richard and Sharon Jenkins to Receive Trinity Rep’s Pell Award

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Pell Award recipients Richard and Sharon Jenkins.

Trinity Rep has announced that Academy-award nominated film and stage actor Richard Jenkins and his director/choreographer wife, Sharon, will be honored with the 2014 Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. The theater also announced that nationally known dance educator and choreographer Mary Paula Hunter would receive the 2014 Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts. The 18th annual Pell Awards will be held on Monday, June 9, 2014 at Trinity Rep with a reception to follow next door at the Providence Public Library.

Individual tickets to the full event are $500; a limited number of individual tickets to the ceremony and post-show reception are $250, and corporate sponsorships are available. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Trinity Rep at (401) 453-9237 or visit http://www.trinityrep.com. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Trinity Rep’s artistic programs.

Richard and Sharon Jenkins

Richard Jenkins was a Trinity Rep acting company member for 14 seasons, starting in 1970. He served as artistic director for four seasons (1990-1994) and directed numerous productions during that time. Richard has appeared in over 60 feature films, and has been nominated for three Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Independent Spirit Awards, a Critics Choice Award, a Gotham Award, and won a Satellite Award as well as an Academy Award nomination for his performance in The Visitor. In 2014, he can be seen in the film God’s Pocket with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Trinity Rep’s own Peter Gerety, as well as appearing opposite Frances McDormand in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

Fellow 2014 Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts honoree Sharon Jenkins has been a choreographer at Trinity Rep for over 40 years, where she has worked with artistic directors Adrian Hall, Amanda Dehnert, Oskar Eustis, and Curt Columbus. She has choreographed The Music Man, Annie, West Side Story, The Fantasticks, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cabaret, and Camelot. Sharon spent 20 years as the dance director at Hope Arts Magnet School in Providence, 15 years as a dance specialist with the RI State Council on the Arts, 10 years as a dancer with RI Dance Rep, and 10 years as choreographer for The Arabella Project. In addition to her work at Trinity Rep, Mrs. Jenkins has worked at Long Wharf Theatre, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Center Stage, South Coast Rep and was the choreographer for Paramount Pictures feature School Ties.

The husband and wife team also co-directed the recent production of Oliver! at Trinity.

Honoring an impactful couple

Richard L. Bready Artistic Director Curt Columbus said that he is thrilled to award this year's Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Pell Award the couple.

“As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary season, it was especially important to all of us to honor Richard and Sharon Jenkins for their combined body of work. They have been transformational figures in the history of Trinity Rep. Their work, both onstage and off, has influenced how audiences have looked at theater; from Shakespeare to American classics to new work to musicals, they both have made theater that is immediate, beautiful, and bold. Their commitment to community and place make them exceptional recipients in the spirit of the great Senator Claiborne Pell."

Mary Paula Hunter

2014 Charles Sullivan Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts honoree Mary Paula Hunter is a well known educator, performance artist and choreographer. Her work is often text-based and always quirky, emotional, and rooted in her own neuroses. Dance Magazine's, Julinda Lewis wrote that Hunter's works " make you feel as if you’ve crossed into a time zone where human motion follows laws you’ve never learned and may never understand." Hunter is the artistic director of JUMP!, where she says she found her calling in the training of young dance artists. JUMP!’s original mission, to develop choreographic talent, has expanded and the company now produces a full season of innovative dance work, produced by its members. Hunter, a long-time choreographer and performer with a M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Michigan, trains dancers at The East Side Ballet Studio and has taught dance at many colleges including Holy Cross, Hamilton College, RISD, and Brown. She curated the New York summer Dance Festival Summer in the Square, and continues to perform as a solo artist. 

The Pell Awards 

The Pell Awards honor Senator Claiborne Pell and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and the New England region as well as on the national level. Throughout his life, Senator Pell worked to support the arts and provide new opportunities for artists. He sponsored the landmark legislation that established the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities in 1965, and chaired the Senate Education and Arts subcommittee.

The theater's annual gala event will be co-chaired by Clay Pell and Michelle Kwan alongside Barbara and Larry Schoenfeld. Mrs. Nuala Pell will serve as the event’s honorary chair.

Past Honorees

Previous Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts honorees include Jane Alexander, Kate Burton, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Viola Davis, Olympia Dukakis, Adrian Hall, Arthur Miller, Liza Minnelli, Toni Morrison, Robert Redford, Chita Rivera, Jason Robards, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Sills, Stephen Sondheim and Kevin Spacey. Past honorees for the Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts include John Krasinski, Amy Morton and Trinity Rep's Resident Acting Company.


Related Slideshow: Richard Jenkins Returns to RI

Check out this chronology of Jenkins' career.

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Trinity Rep.

Jenkins began his career as a professional actor at Trinity Repertory Theater as an actor in 1970 before catapulted from the Providence stage onto the big screen. He was a member of the cast for fourteen seasons, and has been directing plays at Trinity since the early 1980s. His first was "Billy Bishop Goes to War," during the summer season of 1983. The director of the other offering that summer, "Tintypes," was Richard's wife Sharon, who has been directing show at Trinity even longer than her husband (her first show came the summer of 1979). 

Richard and Sharon Jenkins' return to Trinity this spring as the director of "Oliver!" has been met with anticipation and excitement at the theater. 

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Jenkins' first feature film role came in 1985's Silverado. The film, from director Lawrence Kasadan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, is a gun-toting Western where Jenkins got to work with luminary dramatic actors including Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, and Danny Glover, and even Monty Python star John Cleese. Though Jenkins himself didn't score Academy recognition this time, the film was nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the 1986 Academy Awards.

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Hannah and Her Sisters

Jenkins' career has afforded him the chance to work with legendary directors and writers, including the prolific Woody Allen in one of Jenkins' first films, "Hannah and Her Sisters." Jenkins, who plays Dr. Wilkes, is the doctor to Allen's hypocondriac television writer. As Jenkins reassures Allen that he is indeed not dying, he sets in mind a confused but relieved Allen's search for spiritual meaning -- a process that culminates in Woody's famous monologue on the cosmological importance of The Marx Brothers.

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And the Band Played On

Still in the midst of his ascent towards movie stardom, one of Jenkins' relatively early came in the impactful TV movie "And the Band Played On." The film, which came out just as wave of the American AIDS epidemic was at its most destructive crest, traced the origins of HIV and told the story of the first patients to try to withstand and raise awareness of the disease. Jenkins plays a doctor in the film, which was critically acclaimed, earning fellow actors Alan Alda, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, and Lily Tomlin Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

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Outside Providence

Like the Coen Brothers, Jenkins has collaborated with slapstick masters the Farrelly Brothers for several films. In addition to "Outside Providence," Jenkins has appeared in "There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself and Irene," "Say It Isn't So," "Hall Pass," and the 2012 "Three Stooges" remake. "Outside Providence" is particularly near and dear to the hearts of Rhode Islanders because it is set in the state, as well as filmed at various locations around Rhode Island. For more on Outside Providence or the other movies that have been shot within Rhode Island, check out GoLocalProv's article on the top 25 movies filmed within our state.

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Six Feet Under

One of Jenkins' most acclaimed roles was his long-running stint as the deceased father on HBO's critically acclaimed "Six Feet Under." The extraordinary ensemble was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild with a nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series after the show's second season, in 2002. Jenkins played the patriarch in a family that runs a Southern California funeral home. After his untimely demise in an accident, his sons are forced to take over -- though Jenkins returns throughout the series to offer his own spectral advice.

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The Visitor

Jenkins is probably best-known for his portrayal of Professor Walter Vale in Thomas McCarthy's "The Visitor." Jenkins received scores of nominations, including Best Actor at the 81st Academy Awards.  "The Visitor" is a poignant drama that tells the story of Professor Vale, a lonely man who one day encounters a strange, young couple living in his New York apartment. The two are undocumented immigrants who Vale helps to protect and care for in a movie that the New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott called a movie of "impressive grace and understatement" that "manages to surprise you along the way."

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Step Brothers

Jenkins has excelled in dramatic roles, but can play shtick too. Case in point:  his comedic turn as a dopey John C. Reilly's dad in the 2008 Judd Apatow-produced "Step Brothers." When Jenkins and Will Ferrell's mom (played by Mary Steenburgen), Reilly and Ferrell are catapulted together, and forced to begin their hilarious tenure as a single family.

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Burn After Reading

Jenkins is one of the Coen Brothers favorite actors. He has appeared in several movies with the fabulously talented tag-team directors, including "Intolerable Cruelty" and "The Man Who Wasn't There." In "Burn After Reading," Jenkins plays Ted Treffon, the kind-hearted, slightly doddering gym manager who is eventually 86'd by a hatched-wielding unemployed CIA analyst John Malkovich. No one scripts their actors' grisly endings quite like the Coen Brothers.

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The Tale of Despereaux

Jenkins tried his hand at animation, and earned recognition for his voice work with a nomination for a special award by the San Diego Film Critics Society for "The Tale of Despereaux." Based on the Newberry Award-winning children's book of the same name, the film follows the adventures of a plucky mouse (voiced by Matthew Broderick) who saves a princess (voiced by former Brown University student Emma Watson) and, with her, the kingdom. Jenkins plays the mouse-school principal who tries without much success to restrain Despereaux from his swashbuckling ways.

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Eat Pray Love

"Eat Pray Love" follows the story of Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts), a woman approaching midlife and embarking on a restless search for self-discovery as she undergoes a divorce. Jenkins plays a Texan whom Gilbert befriends at the second stop along her journey, at an ashram in India. Jenkins pursues Roberts, but Roberts is too busy falling in love with Javier Bardem in this flick -- and looking at Bardem, it is hard to blame her.

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Let Me In

Jenkins nabbed another award for his character work, this time from horror movie magazine Fangoria in the category of "Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actor" for his portrayal of "The Father" in Matt Reeves' "Let Me In." Here is Jenkins pictured along with his younger costars, taking questions on his spooky work.

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Cabin in the Woods

Jenkins' career is notable is for the variety of genres within which he has excelled. Here, Jenkins pokes fun at the horror genre itself, playing a shadowy figure who manipulates the scares at an archetypal horror movie cabin, where no one knows what is real and what's pretend. In "Cabin in the Woods," Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play two white-collar beauracrats who test vacationing teenagers with horror movie scenarios, building up to the film's shocking conclusion.

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Jenkins' career has come full circle, as he returns to Trinity Rep, this time to direct. Buy tickets to Tony Award-winning musical "Oliver!" here. The stage show, which was adapted into a Best Picture-winning musical film in 1968, has delighted families since it premiered in London's West end in 1960. It follows Dickens' novel about a witty young waif trying to make his way on the streets of London. You can see the show at Trinity Rep from now until March 30th.


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