2020 RUTHIE Awards
Sheila Tousey (Photo Credit: Rachel Crowl), John Kelly (PHOTO CREDIT: Steven Menendez) & Jennifer Kidwell (PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Collerd, courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.)


three performers who embody Ruth’s daring and raw, naked fearlessness

About Sheila Tousey

SHEILA TOUSEY is a writer, actress, and director with numerous film, television and theater credits to her name. Appearances include Signature Theater and Magic Theater’s Late Henry Moss by Sam Shepard; Marie in Joanne Akalaitis’ Woyzcek at the Public Theater; and Marsha Norman’s adaptation of Louise Erdrich’s Master Butchers Singing Club at the Guthrie Theater. She was a Drama Desk Nominee for acting and has had several residencies and fellowships throughout her career including Yale, The Public and the Sundance Theater Lab. She is a company member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and performed in Bring Down the House Parts 1 and 2 (Shakespeare’s Henry VI Trilogy) with an all-female and non-binary cast, adapted by Rosa Joshi and Kate Wisniewski and and directed by Rosa Joshi.

“She knew how to tell a good story. Thank you, thank you, Mabou Mines and I miss you, Ruth. I wonder what story you would tell now.”

About John Kelly

JOHN KELLY’S character-based performance works focus on the struggles encountered by artists and social outsiders. As a writer, director and performer, he has embodied subjects ranging from the Expressionist artist Egon Schiele, the cross-dressing aerialist Barbette, Orpheus, and Joni Mitchell. Other works have explored the AIDS pandemic, the Berlin Wall, and the Troubadours. Over the course of a career that has spanned 35 years he has received multiple awards and fellowships. His dance theatre work Underneath the Skin, based on the life of gay novelist and tattoo artist Samuel Steward, premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in 2019 and played at La MaMa in 2022. Also a visual artist, his first graphic novel is called A Friend Gave Me a Book.

“…it carries the name of an artist whose integrity, rigor, talent, and heart remain a beacon and an inspiration for me…”

About Jennifer Kidwell

JENNIFER KIDWELL is a performing artist. Among many other credits, select projects include Underground Railroad Game (2017 Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work; 2018 Edinburgh Fringe First Award; Lucille Lortel, Helen Hayes nominations), Adrienne Truscott’s Still Asking for It (Joe’s Pub), Home (Geoff Sobelle, Bessie Award for Outstanding Production), Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Dan Hurlin), I Understand Everything Better (David Neumann/advanced beginner group, Bessie Award for Outstanding Production), Antigone (The Wilma Theater), A Hard Time, Superterranean, Fire Burns Hot: Little Reno!, I Promised Myself to Live Faster and 99 Break-Ups (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Dick’s Last Stand (Whitney Biennial 2014, as Donelle Woolford), Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter (Robert Wilson/Toshi Reagon/Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon). Company member PITC and Lightning Rod Special, Wilma Theater Associated Artist, co-founder of JACK. Her writing has been published in movement research Performance Journal #45 and at hyperallergic.com. 2013 TCG/Fox Resident Actor Fellowship (with PITC), 2015 Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant, 2016 Pew Fellow, 2017 Independence Fellowship.

“Sometimes you get to encounter the kind of artist/person you want to be. I am truly honored to receive an award in her name…”