Posted by Tai on June 11, 2010
Every June, after the Monkeys celebrate the authors, teachers, and schools that we work with, we reconvene at a secret location to celebrate our fellow company members at our annual post-Celebration of Authors party and awards ceremony. Awards are given out recognizing everyone’s outstanding work in our school performances throughout the past year, such as “Best Shady Character,” “Best Creature,” and “Most Heartfelt.” (This year’s stories featured numerous appearances by our nation’s President, so a “Best Obama” award was warranted.)
At the end of the ceremony, the prestigious Tom Malinowski Award for Enthusiasm and Commitment to Monkey Greatness is presented. Our Artistic Director, Luke Hatton, describes it as such: “It is bestowed upon an individual in the company who made extraordinary contributions toward the success of Barrel of Monkeys this year.” Previous recipients of this award include Sarah Goeden, Curtis Williams, Mike Spatafora, Luke Hatton, Tai Palmgren, Jason Sperling, and Rachel Wilson.
Joining their ranks this year is Donnell Williams.
A side note before I talk about Donnell: the actual award that is awarded is a large wooden disc, about 3 feet in diameter, painted silver with a photo of Tom plunging a toilet on it.
It is heavy. It is unwieldy. It is near impossible to actually display anywhere. But it lovingly displays the names of all past Tom Award recipients, and now Donnell’s name is among them.
In 2007, Donnell joined the Monkeys and fearlessly leapt into everything we do. He teaches in our residencies, performs in our school shows, and became an instant hit in TWG as soon as he joined.
I mean, who can forget “My Name Is Jelly”?
Or perhaps his lesser known, but oft-recurring character, Old Lady Greenwood?
He is also a talented dancer and choreographer, and our go-to guy whenever we need some fancy footwork. He has brought unique ideas and new theatrical aestetics to the Monkey stage. He is just as much a Monkey fan as he is a member. He truly is enthusiasm personified.
Here’s what Donnell’s fellow company members have had to say about him:
He has raised the bar, artistically, of what Barrel of Monkeys is and does. He is one of those special people who when I see his name on a cast list, I know the show will be strong and successful.
He’s done tons of stuff to help everyone in every capacity this year!
He’s always a show manager/assistant director, even when not assigned to be and is someone everyone leans on.
He has always been that multi-talented Monkey man. Yes, he dances. We know about that wonderful goodness. He teaches, and the kids love him. He has become a props guru, show-managing in a way that gets everything done efficiently and even creating gorgeous props himself (Christmas lights blinking around a “Space Chimps” sign for no other reason than he could, and it worked great!). He rocks it in TWG (and again with the props; he makes sures things are where they should be and don’t die early deaths), and pulls off characters in school shows that wouldn’t be the same with anyone else acting them. I also feel like he’s stretched himself as a performer this year, stepping into roles that aren’t the type he normally does, and they’ve been hilarious and true. Finally, he’s an incredibly talented choreographer, bestowing beautiful dance and movement upon each show he does. In ALL these ways, he has emerged as a true leader in our company and we are so much stronger because of him.
Congrats, Donny. You truly deserve it.