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Thursday, September 30, 2004
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'Free Man of Color' receives national recognition

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Ohio University's School of Theater recently received some national recognition.

Charles Smith photo by Rick FaticaProfessor of Theater Charles Smith's 2004 play, "Free Man of Color," was given the John W. Schmid After Dark Award for Outstanding New Work.

Commissioned by Ohio University as part of its bicentennial celebration and produced by Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, the play has been nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Outstanding New Work award, as well as the Black Theatre Alliance Best New Play award.

"It's a great feeling to see the play being honored in Chicago," Smith says. "To see a work about the history of Ohio University being honored makes it even better. It's real exciting to pick up major publications in Chicago and read about a play based on Ohio University."

In addition, Shelley Delaney, Ohio University assistant professor of theater, was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a play award for her role as Jane Wilson in "Free Man of Color."

Cast shot of 'Free Man of Color'"I'm both surprised and very excited to have been recognized for a 'Best Supporting Actress' nomination by the Joseph Jefferson committee," Delaney said. "It was the first time that I've had an opportunity to act in Chicago and I am particularly honored to be credited for my work in a city with such a strong and vital theater community. More than anything, I feel blessed to have been able to work on "Free Man of Color" from the very first reading through its professional premiere. I'm grateful to Charles Smith for his commitment to me as an actress."

Winners of the Joseph Jefferson Awards will be announced on Nov. 1 at the North Shore Center for the Arts in Skokie, Ill.

"Free Man of Color," which received outstanding reviews from the Chicago media, was based on the life of Ohio University's first African-American graduate, John Newton Templeton. A freed slave, Templeton lived with the president of Ohio University, Robert Wilson and his wife, Jane, during his time on campus and eventually went on to become a prominent educator of black children in Pittsburgh.

The play was performed on the Ohio University campus four times in March as part of Ohio University's yearlong bicentennial celebration.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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