Performing the Present: Audra McDonald and Oskar Eustis in Conversation (2018)

Audra McDonald, the 2018 recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, shares timely stories from her career in a public presentation with Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater in New York, MIT Huntington Hall (Building 10-250), 14 April 2018.

On the occasion of the Award, the conversation covered topics including [Audra] McDonald’s most memorable and career-defining roles on Broadway, her current concert tour and television series, and her off-stage social advocacy on behalf of underserved youth and the LGBTQ community. [Oskar] Eustis and McDonald also discussed how theatrical revivals—such as McDonald’s performances in A Raisin in the Sun, Ragtime, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and more recently, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill—reflected their times and the evolution of social attitudes and cultural experiences.

Eustis, who directed McDonald in the role of Olivia in the Public Theater’s 2009 production of Twelfth Night, likewise engages with issues of social import in his work, such as inclusion and access for both theater makers and audiences. For more than 60 years, the Public Theater has operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone.

McDonald, the winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award, visited the campus during the semester to work with students in MIT’s music and theater arts classes and ensembles.

Arts at MIT

Timeline: 2010s
School: School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department: Music and Theater Arts
Career: Arts & HumanitiesCommunity
Object: Video
Collection: Activism, Honors, LGBTQIA+, Pop Culture, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Women