The Educational Theatre Association’s 2014 President’s Award posthumously honors former Georgia state chapter director Ray Horne, one of the most colorful characters in the organization’s long history. This year’s Founders’ Award went to departing board member Jason Daunter, a professional stage manager who helped redefine the way volunteer leaders contribute to the work of the organization.
The awards were announced during the week of the 2014 National Conference in Cincinnati.
Horne, who taught theatre for more than thirty-five years at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia and served as Georgia state chapter director from 1972-73 and 1982-90, died last January. As he spoke to veteran members while considering the award, EdTA President Jay Seller said, “everyone I talked to had a Ray Horne story.” Southern to the bone, Horne could be both gracious and aggressively honest, sometimes in the same sentence. He was demanding and generous with his students, rock-steady in his convictions, and passionate about his work as an educator and theatre director.
In announcing the award, which is presented annually to an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the Association, the president, board of directors, or volunteer leadership of EdTA, Seller described Horne as “one of our greatest leaders.”
“Ray Horne defined the role of a leader and theatre educator,” he said. “He knew that success is all about growing others.”
Jason Daunter, recipient of the 2014 Founders’ Award, has a long résumé of service to EdTA. He has taught Festival workshops, produced and directed the National Individual Events Showcase, and shepherded the Festival’s Tech Challenge into being. With fellow board members Gai Jones and Matt Conover he created and sustained Making Magic, Defying Gravity, a barnstorming revue of a fundraiser that brought Broadway professionals and high school students together on stages all over the country.
“What makes Jason a founder and a very special champion for theatre education is his generous spirit and willingness to put himself on the line again and again for students and teachers alike,” said Executive Director Julie Woffington in presenting the award. “He embodies the best of us and we’re lucky to have him.”
The Founders’ Award is presented annually to an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the growth and development of theatre education, research, and practice. The award recognizes work that supports the principles and mission of the founders to promote and strengthen theatre education.
During the Thespian Festival, Woffington presented the 2014 Standing Ovation Award, which recognizes companies or organizations that support the principles and mission of the Association, to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. UNL has hosted the Festival for twenty years, providing theatre spaces, workshop rooms, dormitories, and expert technical support for EdTA’s premiere annual event.
“UNL’s involvement with EdTA has helped to support the International Thespian Society, hundreds of our Thespian troupes, and thousands of our students,” Woffington said in a letter to UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman about the award. “Your team has become our trusted partner. They have proven to be flexible and accommodating, and provide a level of service that is responsive to any situation and makes our attendees feel welcome and special.”