Our Audrey Herman Celebration 2020 Award Recipients
Audrey Herman Award 2020
Although nationally known as an actress for her recurring roles in HBO’s The Wire and The Corner, Maria is also a storyteller and dancer with more than forty years of performing and teaching in the US and across the globe. She is a Fulbright scholar and former news reporter for the ABC affiliates in Miami and Baltimore.
Currently, she is on the theater faculty at the Baltimore School for the Arts. A native of Baltimore, Maria has received many awards and honors including the Eubie Blake Award, the Sarah’s Circle Award and the 2004 Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist. In 2007, she was named, Artist of the Year by Young Audiences of Maryland, Inc.
In addition to her work as performer and educator, Maria is much requested as a speaker and presenter. With a background in yoga, meditation, Homa therapy and dance therapy, she conducts staff retreats, workshops and weekly classes that help people to release stress and feel at peace. Formerly, the diversity coordinator for the Park School in Baltimore, she has been a consultant since 2006 for Maryland Public Television’s Campaign for Love and Forgiveness, sponsored by Fetzer Institute.
As a recipient of an Open Society Institute community fellowship grant, Maria established a unique mentoring program in the inner city schools, and beyond, called the Dance Girls of Baltimore. It is through this vehicle that she passes on the values of self-discipline and thoughtful behavior. In 2007, Maria worked in Poland and Czechoslovakia co-directing the independent film “Soul Immortal” released in 2010.
Spotlighters Award 2020
After being tapped as a last-minute understudy to narrate her Kindergarten Review, Andrea Bush found her truest love / survival mechanism in theatre. Nearly 40 years later, she has worn almost every theatrical hat there is to wear (and, as both her fashion and common sense have always been questionable, usually several hats at once).
Andrea's first production in Baltimore City proper was at Spotlighters, where she was seen as Claudia in their 2008 production of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. She returned to Spotlighters many times over the following decade as an actor, stage manager, fight choreographer, scenic artist, booth tech, prop crafter, costume assistant, ...and she's quite sure to have forgotten something, so pick a hat and put it on her... and, finally, as the co-Director of Songs for a New World before retiring from full production work in late 2018.
Never one to fully give up on love, Andrea still keeps a toe in, participating regularly in Guerilla Theatre Front's monthly Cinematic Reading Series, and she was honored to have performed in Spotlighters' fund raiser production of Love Letters this past Summer.
Andrea can sometimes be found masquerading as a functional adult in her roles as an Instructor for CCBC's Center for Alternative and Supported Education, as well as Program Director for Tourette Association of America Mid-Atlantic Chapter - but, most often, she's cuddled up with Frida the Wonder Pup, watching Netflix.
Spotlighters Award 2020
Michael I. Blum
I wish to thank Fuzz Roark, the Spotlighters Board, and everyone at Spotlighters for this honor.
I attended shows at Spotlighters now and then over the years (I saw Oliver! there in 1970), but I only considered myself a sometime-patron and fan, until I answered a “we need cast members!” e-mail from Fuzz and Michael Tan in November of 2014, for Jekyll/Hyde.
Something odd then happened — from the first minute I stepped into Spots, I felt both welcomed and challenged at the same time: challenged to do my best as a person in the performing arts, and welcomed to a highly creative and flexible milieu. Also, almost immediately I found that being a part of Spots made me very happy! This feeling of inclusive warmth grew and flourished, and as a result, I resolved to pay Spots back: by attending as many productions as I could, by being in shows there, by supporting Spots financially, and by directing productions.
My background is a complex one — by age twenty-seven, I was a full-time academic impresario: teaching and producing opera and musical theatre at Southern Illinois University. I was trained as a singer, actor, director, conductor, designer and producer — I was a co-founder and the first Music Director of the Young Victorian Theatre Company here in my home town of Baltimore; I ran an Opera-on-Wheels company that played just about every elementary school auditorium in Southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, southwest Indiana and northwest Kentucky.
I had been doing about ten shows and operas a year for almost fifteen years, but in my mid-30s I gave it all up to devote myself to making a living in advertising (it’s not easy!) for a few decades, while helping my wife Annette raise our large family out in Bel Air, Maryland. Although I scratched my “production itch” by directing parades and car shows (dozens of each!), producing radio and TV spots, and doing trade shows around the USA, it wasn’t until I immersed myself in Spotlighters that I understood what I had been missing for all those years — and I don’t intend to let it slip away again.
In my opinion, the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre is a treasure beyond value to the artistic life of Baltimore, and I will do everything I can — today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future — to help it succeed.