Theatre Washington opens noms for new Victor Shargai award 

In honor of the beloved DC-area theater champion, the award will recognize outstanding and creative leadership. 

Theatre Washington — together with its Board of Directors, Advancement Committee, and Craig Pascal — has opened nominations for a new award in honor of beloved DC-area theater champion Victor Shargai. For more than 50 years, Shargai was an avid supporter of the DC region’s theater community and its artists. A former chair of the Theatre Washington Board of Directors, Shargai played a key role in the production of the annual Helen Hayes Awards.

Victor Shargai (1936–2019) at the 2017 Helen Hayes Awards. Photo by Shannon Finney Photography.

The Victor Shargai Leadership Award was established by Craig Pascal to honor his late husband and will celebrate leaders — artists, staff, trustees, philanthropists, and others — who have found creative and meaningful ways to serve, grow, and strengthen the DC region’s theatre community. There will be an event to celebrate the recipient and honorees in October 2022.

“Over the past two years, our theater industry has experienced immeasurable loss. We’ve lost friends and colleagues, productions, revenue, and art that we’ll never see. Even in the last few months, with openings and closings, changing protocols and government guidelines, our Washington, DC-area theaters have adapted and innovated,” said Amy Austin, president and CEO of Theatre Washington. “None of this is possible in the absence of leadership. And it’s time to shine a spotlight on the amazing members of our community who are thinking outside the box and moving our industry forward in ways we never thought possible. That’s what the Victor Shargai Leadership Award will do, and I’m grateful to Craig and Victor’s incredible network of friends and theater advocates who have built this lasting tribute to our dear champion, Victor.”

Jane Lang, chair of The Eugene Lang Foundation and founder and chair emerita of Atlas Performing Arts Center, longtime friend to Shargai and member of Theatre Washington’s Advancement Committee said, “We are fortunate to have dedicated artists, audiences, and donors who have enabled our theaters to outlast the pandemic and to flourish again. We’ve learned to appreciate more fully what we have so badly missed, and now celebrate the return of live theater to enrich our community. The vitality of regional theater depends on our commitment, inspired by creative and passionate leadership.”

Nominations and Selection
The award will recognize outstanding and creative leadership and will be given to an individual, group, or institution that has strengthened the DC region’s theater community through initiative, collaboration, advocacy, and/or personal generosity — in a specific moment, or over an extended period of time. Their impact can be at an organizational, industry, or regional level. Candidates for the Victor Shargai Leadership Award may be nominated by individuals or organizations active in the DC regional theater community. Individuals or organizations may also nominate themselves. One person or organization may not nominate more than one candidate in a single year. A nomination form is available on the Theatre Washington website and must be completed by Thursday, March 31, 2022.

The recipient and any other notable nominees will be selected by a committee that will include Pascal, Lang, and Abel Lopez (Theatre Washington board chair). The Theatre Washington board chair will consult with members of the Advancement Committee of Theatre Washington. The members of the Advancement Committee are leaders from multiple industries (housing, hospitality, LGBTQ, tourism, retail, finance, etc.) who share a passion for theater and a desire to advocate for theater.

Key Dates
March 31, 2022: Award nominations close
Spring: Recipient & Honoree Announcement
October 17, 2022: Victor Shargai Leader Award Celebration

Victor Shargai Leadership Award Celebration
The inaugural Victor Shargai Leadership Award Celebration will be held on October 17, 2022, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G. Street, NW). The event will also serve as a fundraiser for Theatre Washington and the Helen Hayes Awards, and sponsorships will be available.

About Victor Shargai
Victor Shargai was born in New York City in 1936 where he had an acting career from a young age in stage, television, and radio productions. He worked as an actor on the New York stage, and in television and print modeling. He designed costumes and sets off-Broadway, and assisted in costume design on Broadway, participating in over 50 productions. He later studied interior design and practiced as a designer in New York and Washington, D C, for over 40 years. He established his own design firm with his late partner, John Aniello Jr., in 1973. He worked throughout the continental United States, designing projects of many descriptions, including major residences in the Washington area. He devoted much effort and many years to numerous arts-associated endeavors. He served on the boards of The Washington Ballet and Studio Theatre,  was a founding member of the Kennedy Center Friends Board, and was the long-time chair of Theatre Washington. At Theatre Washington, Shargai was ardently dedicated to the Washington theater experience as a way to improve life in the Washington region. His advice was frequently sought by local theater organizations on fundraising, operational, and artistic issues, both formally and informally. Victor was immensely proud of the artistic excellence of the Washington Theatre community, which was demonstrated in his unwavering support for the value of recognition and celebration through his support of the prestigious Helen Hayes Awards, a program of Theatre Washington. Besides being an avid theater attendee, Shargai was a devoted reader of Jane Austen and other 19th-century literature and biographies. He resided at the Watergate South with his husband M. Craig Pascal, lawyer, banker, and leading proponent of affordable housing.

About Theatre Washington
Through collaborative partnerships and programs, Theatre Washington supports the Washington, DC-area’s professional theater community to celebrate artistic achievement, strengthen the theatrical workforce, support institutional growth and advancement, and cultivate collective action. Theatre Washington’s core programs include the Helen Hayes Awards, Theatre Week, Theatre Summit, Theatre Work, and the Taking Care Fund.


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