Outstanding Service Award

David C. Bryant Outstanding Service
Recognizes individual members of AACT for significant, valuable, and lasting service to community theatre

2019 Honoree

Eugene Irby photoBayless Eugene Irby (Artesia, New Mexico) has been a part of the Artesia Community Theatre since the early 1990s. He feels that theatre is the heart of a community, and he has held just about every position in the organization. Eugene encouraged Artesia Community Theatre to attend the state theatre festival. Artesia then associated with the state organization, and even took on the challenge to compete in a festival. Appreciating his dedication to the community theatres in New Mexico, Eugene was asked to run for an office with the state organization. Little did he know that this would start his journey with Theatre New Mexico, and subsequently, AACT. He helped perpetuate the idea that youth should have a presence, not only on the local level, but at state and national community theatre forums, as well. One of Eugene’s best memories of AACT is being a Regional Representative, since he had the opportunity to visit with many different community theatres and help strengthen, encourage, and help guide states in a positive direction. Eugene is a champion for community theatre; he exhibits love, passion, and dedication that are the heart and core of community theatre.

Previous Recipients
1978  Robert E. Gard* (Madison, WI)
1979  Art Cole* (Midland, TX)
1980  John Wray Young* (Shreveport, LA)
1981  Jeanne Adams Wray* (Stillwater, OK)
1982  Robert Plumb* (Broken Arrow, OK)
1983  Betty Tomlinson* (Spokane, WA)
1984  Kay Fliehr* (Edina, MN)
1985  Twink Lynch (Topeka, KS)
1987  David Gooder* (Downers Grove, IL)
1988  Mort Clark* (North White Plains, NY)
1989  Al* & Elise King (Clinton, IA)
1990  Bea Miller* (Mempis, TN)
1991  Shirley Harbin* (Detroit, MI)
1992  L. Newell Tarrant* (Raleigh, NC)
1993  Sandra Karnack (Minot, ND)
1994  Charles Chesnut* (Chappaqua, NY)
1995  John Wills* (Spokane, WA)
1996  John Viars (Des Moines, IA)
1997  JoAnne Nissen (Racine, WI)
1998  Donna Norberg (Minneapolis, MN)
1999  Jerry Paquette (US Army)
2000  Bill Razo (Hobbs, NM)
2001  Jeanne Stein* (Los Alamos, NM)
2002  Ginny Winsor (Omaha, NE)

2003  Dawn Enders* (La Crosse, WI)
2004  Eleanor Smith (Columbus, OH)
2005  Norm Small (Winter Haven, FL)
2006  Steve Walpert (Fort Gordon, GA)
2007  David Allen (Memphis, TN)
           Nick Credgington (Fort Belvoir, VA)
           Ginger Heath (Charlotte, NC)
2008  Vanita Rae Smith (Honolulu, HI)
2009  Dane Winters (US Army, Heidelberg)
2010  Dwight Martin (Honolulu, HI)
2011  Dennis Gilmore (Athens, TX)
2012  Paul Nelson (Olean, NY)
           Ron Paoletti* (US Army, Europe)
2013  Christi Thomas (Sidney, OH)
2014   Harriet Friedman (Waltham, MA)
           Dotti Peek* (New Palestine, IN)
2015   Victoria Hanrahan (Ansbach, Germany)
2015   Lou Vander Have (Grand Rapids, MI)
2016   Tom Cordingley (Helena, MT)
            Zada & Earl Jahnsen (Bulverde, TX)
2017    Joan Luther (Naples, New York)
            Jon Douglas Rake (Tacoma, Washington)
2018    Jerry Brees (U.S. Army IMCOM Europe Entertainment, Italy)
            Michael Spicer (Salina, KS)
            Lynn Nelson (Tupelo, MS)

          * Deceased

David C. Bryant

David C. BryantThe David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award was established in 1978 to honor one of the original founders and the third President (1965-68) of ACTA (later AACT).  Dave was the Artistic Director of the Sheboygan (WI) Community Players from 1957 until his death in 1971.  Under his influence in Sheboygan, according to its 50th anniversary book, "more people were involved onstage, backstage and in the audience.  There was a marked liveliness to the theatrical fare.  Even the printed playbills of the period reflect creativity, individuality and a sense of panache."  Dave instituted the production of a musical every year and was instrumental in the design of their new thrust stage in order to provide "closer visual, auditory and emotional contact with the actors."  His influence in Sheboygan was so powerful that when a new Artistic Director joined the staff in 1981, 10 years after Dave's untimely death, "Dave was all I heard about, even though there were four Directors of Theatre between us."

Essentially a "let-us-never-forget-the-work-of-those-who-have-gone-before-us" award, it is given for "significant and valuable service to community theatre" on a local, regional or national level.  This service may be artistic, business or ethical in nature.  It may be for a local theatre or the field of community theatre in general, but it must be significant and have a lasting impact.


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