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Theatre and Dance Alumnus Tom Dugdale wins Prestigious Princess Grace Award

by Dirk Sutro

As winner of the Princess Grace Foundation’s Grace Le Vine Theater Award, director and UC San Diego theater alumnus Tom Dugdale will direct an upcoming production by La Jolla Playhouse. He will also develop site-specific works for La Jolla locations.

The Princess Grace Foundation was created in 1982 in honor of Princess Grace of Monaco, the prominent actress and patron of the arts who helped many emerging artists. The awards are given to emerging artists in theater, dance, choreography, and film. Winners will be honored at a gala in New York City on October 22.

To be considered for the awards, artists such as Dugdale submit proposals for projects that will help advance their careers. He looks forward to working with renowned La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.

“The award offers a bridge between graduate school and professional theater,” Dugdale said. “My goal is to be the producing artistic director at an American theater.”

Dugdale completed his MFA in directing at UC San Diego in 2010. At the time, he was already directing at a high level, according to department Chair Jim Carmody. 

“Tom's work showed extraordinary promise, especially his luminous thesis production of Chekhov's The Seagull, which was visually gorgeous and dramatically compelling, and seemed to get straight to the heart of the play,” Carmody said. “Tom's productions are characterized by a rare fusion of intellectual clarity and emotional depth fueled by a passion to communicate with his audience. We are thrilled that this lets him immediately launch his career by directing for a critically acclaimed regional theatre company with which our department has enjoyed a long relationship.”

Dugdale’s mentors in theater at UC San Diego have included professors Gábor Tompa and Kim Rubinstein. Dugdale directed Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman at the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, where Tompa is artistic director. He has also explored interdisciplinary works. Last spring he collaborated with violinist and UC San Diego music professor János Négyesy on a production entitled You Must Walk Dreaming, incorporating the music of avant garde composer Luigi Nono.

Over the years, several UC San Diego theater alumni have won Princess Grace Awards. Last year’s honorees included Sarah Rasmussen, (MFA, 2008). Her recent directing credits include We Play for the Gods at the 2012 Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, and Josh Tobiessen’s Crashing the Party at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, as well as assistant directing In the Next Room on Broadway.

Prominent past winners of the Princess Grace Award include playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), playwright Jesse Kellerman (now a best-selling novelist and son of author Jonathan Kellerman), playwright Kate Robin (who has written episodes of the television series Six Feet Under), and director and actor Shishir Kurup, who has appeared in the television series Surface, Lost and Heroes.