16 Toast-worthy Azuka Events from 2016

Here are our Top (16) Toast-worthy Azuka Events from 2016! These bright spots in our year made us smile - we hope they brought you some joy as well. Buy A Drink in honor of your favorite Azuka moment from 2016!

1. We became Resident Partners at The Drake!

Azuka started off 2016 with a bang, joining InterAct Theatre, Simpatico Theatre Project, Inis Nua Theatre, and PlayPenn opening the new home for new plays in Philadelphia. It's good to be home!

2. World Premiere of Local Girls, by awesome playwright (and Philadelphian) Emma Goidel.

We kicked off our time at The Drake with the hilarious and heartbreaking World Premiere of Local Girls, by Emma Goidel, directed by Allison Heishman. It was an honor to work with such a rockstar like Emma - we love Philly playwrights!

Jahzeer Terrell, Mary Tuomanen, Anna Zaida Szapiro & Tabitha Allen in  Local Girls  (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/ AustinArt.org

Jahzeer Terrell, Mary Tuomanen, Anna Zaida Szapiro & Tabitha Allen in Local Girls (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org

3. 10 years of I Love You, I Hate You!

Our 'best of' event sold-out our FringeArts venue and featured some of our favorite Azuka family members - many of whom have been making us laugh reading ILYIHY posts for all 10 years! Don't miss this year at Helium Comedy Club...there will be a special announcement that night! Anyone who takes part in Buy A Drink For Azuka will gain early access to tickets for the 2017 installment!


With the generous support of the Barra Foundation, we found out that our full season Pay What You Decide initiative was a GO! We hit the ground running in order to get things ready for our Fall 2016 show.

5. Our 5th New Professionals production, Moth, is a huge success!

Under the direction of Michael Osinski, Moth wowed audiences and critics alike. We were able to do a test run of PWYD and the production garnered two Barrymore Nominations for Outstanding Sound Design (Damien Figueras) and Outstanding Lighting Design (Alyssandra Docherty). We couldn't be prouder!

Hannah Parke & Nicholas Scheppard in  Moth  (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/ AustinArt.org

Hannah Parke & Nicholas Scheppard in Moth (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org

6. Aversa PR joins the Azuka family

We are such huge fans of Kory Aversa and his amazing team! Under their guidance we were able to spread the word about Pay What You Decide. Did you hear us on the radio? See us on TV? Read about us in national publications like the Business Journal and American Theatre? All thanks to Aversa PR!

Courtesy of Metro Philadelphia

Courtesy of Metro Philadelphia

7. Kevin and Mark hop across the pond!

Kevin and Mark traveled to England to experience firsthand the Pay What You Decide system at work. They met with Annabel Turpin and Porl Cooper bringing back lots of ideas and new strategies that we would later implement into our own PWYD program.

8. New Audiences! New Experiences!

One of our most important goals of this season was to reach out to new audiences and throw open the doors of our theaters to new communities! We focused our marketing initiatives in new areas, held a series of open houses and got the word out about Azuka and Pay What You Decide! It worked and at one point 60% of our audiences had never seen an Azuka show before! Woot!

9. How We Got On - A Show of Azuka Firsts!

How We Got On was so important for so many reasons - it brought Founding Artistic Director Raelle Myrick-Hodges back to Azuka. It was the first all black show in Azuka history, a show that celebrated black joy and the heart of an artist! It was one of the most well-attended shows in Azuka history, AND it was the first full run of Pay What You Decide - we met every goal we set halfway through the run.... Breathing out LOTS of joy for this one!

Zoe Richards, Jerrick Medrano & James Whitfield in  How We Got On  (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/ AustinArt.org

Zoe Richards, Jerrick Medrano & James Whitfield in How We Got On (2016). Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org

10. Season Sponsors - Two Roads Brewery, DiBruno Bros. & Fairmount Bicycles!

Raise a glass to these amazing businesses who help make what we do not only possible, but fun! We love our Opening Nights with Two Roads and DiBrunos (not to mention our Happy Hours)! We are looking forward to working with Fairmount Bikes on our upcoming World Premiere of Shitheads by Douglas Williams!

11. Azuka is awarded the June and Steve Wolfson Award for Evolving Theatre at the Barrymore Awards!

What an honor to be recognized for our work in such a special way! The Wolfsons incredibly generous support of the entire Philadelphia theatre community is definitely something to be grateful for this year and every year!

Steve & June Wolfson, Kevin Glaccum, Kishia Nixon & Lee Porter.

Steve & June Wolfson, Kevin Glaccum, Kishia Nixon & Lee Porter.

12. Producer's Fund development of FRESH, by Jacqueline Goldfinger

Azuka was awarded a grant from the Producer's Fund that supports the development of female artists in Philadelphia. Jackie, Allison, Sally Ollove, Nell Bang-Jensen, Sebastienne Mundheim, Taysha Canales, Kittson O'Neill, Anita Holland, Lee Etzold, Bi Jean Ngo, Erin Washburn, Alix Rosenfeld, Keith Conallen and Lindsay Smiling participated in the workshops to develop this vital new play.

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13. Azuka Producer's Circle and Sustaining Donors make it happen!

The support and encouragement we get from our donors warms our hearts on even the coldest nights. This generous, smart, and incredibly attractive group of people help make possible what we do here at Azuka. Without them there are no new plays, no workshops, no challenging and innovative designs, no breathtaking performances on our stage. We mean it when we say, we can't do it without you!

Kimberly S. Fairbanks & Mary Lee Bednarek in  Hope Street and Other Lonely Places  (2012). Photo by Johanna Austin/ AustinArt.org

Kimberly S. Fairbanks & Mary Lee Bednarek in Hope Street and Other Lonely Places (2012). Photo by Johanna Austin/AustinArt.org

14. Our Board of Directors - Invested and Innovative.

It was Vice-President of the Board, Natalie Diener Cosenza who first brought Pay What You Decide to us. It was our dynamic and bold Board that encouraged us to "GO FOR IT!" They are behind us or beside us every step of the way, and their support, knowledge and guidance constantly make us better at our game. They are a group like no other and we are eternally grateful!


15. The Azuka Staff!

Yep. We are going to give ourselves a little pat on the back this year. The dedication, talent and determination of Kevin, Allison, Mark, Emily and Sally deserve a toast! SO, here's to the long hours and late nights, the grant writing, the thank you letters, the play reading, the audition prep, the staff meetings, the production meetings, the envelope stuffing, the rehearsals, the tech, the opening nights, the curtain speeches, the box office numbers, the talkbacks, the strikes, and the energy to get up and do it all over again in the morning! We are living the dream!


16. Development of New Works to get excited about in 2017!

This year we held workshops for the World Premiere of Shitheads, by Douglas Williams which will open in February 2017, the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere (!!!) of The Arsonists, by Jacqueline Goldfinger which will open in May 2017. Hosted our Spotlight Series featuring new work by all Philly artists: R. Eric Thomas, Josh Wilder, and an exciting partnership with Apiary Magazine and The Foundry. 2016 laid the groundwork for these exciting new plays and more - we will see you in 2017 at the theater!