Tony Awards 2017: Winners Take on Trump With Politically Charged Acceptance Speeches
A number of those who bagged the honour at Radio City Music Hall on June 11 cited the role that theatre can play in opening minds, touching hearts, and illuminating universal human truths.
The 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017, in New York. (Image: AP)
New York: Tony Award winners, including actress Cynthia Nixon, seemed to have had the turbulent state of culture and politics in the US President Donald Trump era on top of their minds as many championed the arts in their politically charged speeches here.
A number of those who bagged the honour at Radio City Music Hall on June 11 cited the role that theatre can play in opening minds, touching hearts and illuminating universal human truths, reports variety.com.
Nixon, who won featured actress in a play for Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, said she was grateful to have had the chance to perform in the groundbreaking 1939 play about lesbian relationships at "this specific moment in history". She called it "eerily prescient" and offered a pointed quote from the playwright.
"There are people who eat the Earth and all the people on it and there are all the people who just stand around and watch them do it," she said.
She expressed her appreciation for "all the people who are refusing to just stand and watch them do it".
Sally Field, a nominee for The Glass Menagerie, delivered a brief history of the service work done since the World War I era by "the women of the Wing" - the American Theater Wing, which administers the Tony Awards.
She finished by assuring the crowd that the Wing is going strong in its mission to "illuminate the darkness with the blazing truth of art".
Kevin Kline, winner for leading actor in a play for Present Laughter, called out in his thank you speech to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has been threatened with losing its federal funding under the Trump administration.
Kline cited the NEA as an organisation "without which half the people in this room would not be here".
Lynne Meadow, artistic director of the Manhattan Theater Club, hailed the legacy of playwright August Wilson as she accepted the trophy for best revival of a play for Wilson's "Jitney".
The play exemplifies Wilson's "belief in the importance of coming together in adversity and to celebrate our humanity - our shared humanity," Meadow said.
Stephen Colbert was on hand to present the trophy for revival of a musical. The "Late Show" host took quick aim at Trump, variety.com said.
He joked about the revival in Washington D.C. of a show that started off-Broadway in the 1980s.
"This revival is supposed to have a four-year run but reviews have not been kind," Colbert quipped. "It could close early - we don't know."
Actress Bette Midler, a winner for Hello Dolly!, also hit the prevailing anti-Trump sentiment head on, reports variety.com.
"This thing has the ability to lift your spirits in these terrible, terrible times," she said.
Her co-star Gavin Creel bagged the best performance by a featured actor in a musical. The best revival of a musical also went to their play Hello Dolly!
Dear Evan Hansen was the big winner of the night with six Tony Awards, including the best new musical.
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