The American Theatre Wing honored dozens of productions and performers at the 71st Tony Awards Sunday, June 11. Beyond the lights, outfits, acceptance speeches, and awards the history of the show is as rich as the meaning of the honor.
In 1940, Rachel Crothers, one of the seven ladies of theatre, started the American Theatre Wing along with Antoinette Perry. The Wing worked to bring the theatre to soldiers in World War II by creating the Stage Door Canteens. Stage Door Canteen’s were essentially free clubs for soldiers to dance, eat, and drink while enjoying various sorts of entertainment. The funds the Wing raised through the movie “Stage Door Canteen," which was based on the Stage Door Canteens, was donated to the United Service Organization as part of the Wing’s support of the war effort.
The Wing continued after World War II. Post-war American Theatre Wing changed their purposes to include “further the welfare of the theatre itself and to utilize the resources of the theatre in the service of the community" according to the American Theatre Wing website. From then on, the American Theatre Wing encouraged service men and civilians alike to become involved in the theatre.
The name of the award, Tony, was named after Antoinette Perry in honor of her work in the Broadway community. The Tony Awards was born and the movement by the American Theatre Wing to promote the theatre and support actors took full force.
Every year, the Tony Awards are an example to young actors what hard work and dedication can equal. Are you a young actor? Share your thoughts on how you stay motivated and what you’ve done to encourage members of your community to support the theatre in the comments or using #stepupmagazine.