Best Director - 2012
Djanet Sears's meticulously complex Harlem Duet is a provocative play that deals with race, sex, and mental illness in the black community. When the M Ensemble performed the play in March, the troupe turned to University of Miami drama professor Lowell Williams to take on the challenge of bringing out all of the show's multifaceted and nuanced layers. Williams, who holds a master's degree in psychology from Kent State, took an eclectic and talented cast and coached it into performing one of the finer dramas on a Miami stage in some time. The ever-modest Williams swore that his cast, made up of veterans such as John Archie and up-and-comers such as Ethan Henry, made the play excel. But tackling subjects such as interracial marriage and sexual politics in the African-American community takes a strong hand steering the production. Williams's direction was particularly crucial for the role of Billie, a woman dealing with a deteriorating psyche, played by Christina Alexander (not coincidentally our winner this year for Best Actress). "I told Christina that she can't play both sane and insane at one time," Williams said. "I told her not to get caught up in trying to bleed them together. A lot of actors make the mistake of playing competing emotions at the same time." The result was an outstanding performance from Alexander and a powerful, resonant production from the M Ensemble.