LA Stage Alliance Shuts Down After 25 Theaters Quit Following Ovation Awards Gaffes

Awards organizer’s multiple errors included having the wrong photo of nominee Jully Lee and mispronouncing her name

Photo: LA Stage Alliance

The LA Stage Alliance, a 46-year-old non-profit organization that runs the Ovation Awards for local theatre companies, has shut down following backlash after actress Jully Lee was misidentified in a photo and had her name mispronounced during the awards show.

More than 25 different local theater companies in Los Angeles, including the Pasadena Playhouse and the Geffen Playhouse, withdrew their membership after the Ovation Awards on March 30 had multiple representation errors during the awards show.

“Our intention has always been to represent and promote the entire Los Angeles theatre community, but at this time we are unable to continue,” the organization said in a statement Monday. “For the past 46 years, LASA has worked to acknowledge, support, and celebrate artists and theatres from all communities. We believe in equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels. As individuals, we are committed to continuing our support of this community which we hold so dear. We wish the entire theatre community and its stakeholders continued success.”

Korean-American actress Jully Lee, the star of the production “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” had her name mispronounced as the list of nominees for the Ovation Awards was being read, and the organization also used a photo of a different actress altogether.

The local theater companies, all led by Asian theater company East West Players, also called out LASA for a rule in which only one company could be recognized for a production, even though East West Players was involved in numerous nominated shows.

“You have stood behind an embarrassingly outdated policy of only recognizing one theatre per production–a patently false assertion and an exclusionary situation that you have set up,” East West Players said in a statement last week. “Every time East West Players co-produces in an effort to bring Asian-American actors more visibility in L.A. theatres, only the other, predominantly white organization is listed and uplifted. This is what erasure of our work and our community looks like. To the Ovation Awards and LA Stage Alliance we do not exist, nor does our artistic voice matter. Our craft and our artistic community are secondary to the predominantly white institutions and can swiftly be ignored and forgotten.”

LASA initially said it would create a task force, an advisory board and an operations plan as part of a four-part action plan, but the group is shutting down instead.

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