DALE RICARDO SHIELDS
Theatrical Director, Educator, Historian, and Artistic Activist
Dale Ricardo Shields is a 2017 winner of The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®, 2017 and a 2015 Tony® award nominee for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award, The winner of the 2017 AUDELCO/”VIV” Special Achievement Award, The 2020 & 2021 ENCORE AWARD / (The Actors Fund). Recently, Professor Shields received the 2021 Paul Robeson Award, presented by the Actors Equity Association and The Actors Equity Foundation and The 2022 Legend Award – Ohio University.
His extensive professional credits as a Director, Stage manager, and Actor (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and Regional) include various projects and assignments at Lincoln Center (State Theatre), The Henry Street Settlement House (New Federal Theatre), The Negro Ensemble Company, The Joseph Papp Public Theatre (New York Shakespeare Festival) and Karamu House.
He was the assistant director to Lloyd Richards for the New Federal Theatre premiere production of Ossie Davis’ play A Last Dance With Sybil starring Ruby Dee and Earl Hyman at the New Federal Theatre. As an actor he has appeared on Saturday Night Live, Another World, Guiding Light, The Cosby Show, and the ITV television series Special Needs and commercials and film.
Dale is a member of the Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the American Guild of Musical Artists performance unions and an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
BFA and MFA degrees from Ohio University.
Archivist, Historian, and Creator of
Iforcolor.org and Black Theatre African American Voices}
Dale was honored to be inducted into the academic fraternity Phi Kappa Phi upon graduation from Ohio University. The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi’s international community is a unique blend of students, academicians, and corporate and civic leaders from all fields of endeavor. Membership in The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi means that you are among the very best and brightest that your university has to offer, not just in your chosen field of study, but among all academic disciplines. The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society. He also was awarded the In Honor of Ancestral Sacrifices award for Upholding the Dream in June of 1994 from Ohio University. He has received numerous other awards and decorations from The South Bronx Community Action Theatre, Denison University’s Center for Black Studies and The Department of Theatre The Office of Black Student Affairs -The Black Students Association –Men of Harambee –The Woman of Diaye of The College of Wooster and Educator of the year awards, to name a few.
As a University Professor, Shields has received two Outstanding Professor Awards and three Educational Program of the Year awards. In 2015, Shields was nominated for the inaugural “Excellence in Theatre Education Award”. This award is a collaboration between the Tony Award and Carnegie Mellon University. The award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator “who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”
Shields has taught at Ohio University, The College of Wooster, Denison University, Macalester College, Susquehanna University artist-in-residence, and SUNY Potsdam. He teaches courses in acting, directing, Black theatre history, and stage management.
The Paul Robeson Award [ Actors Equity Association / Actors Equity Foundation
DALE RICARDO SHIELDS, PEARL CLEAGE AND THE BLACK REPERTORY THEATRE OF KANSAS CITY
TO RECEIVE PAUL ROBESON AWARDS
The Paul Robeson Award, given annually since Robeson received the first Citation in 1974, honors individuals who leverage theatre to go beyond the stage to enact their commitment to the freedom of expression and conscience.
Actors’ Equity Foundation Awards 2023
Past Recipients: 1989-Present
2023 The Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City
2022 Pearl Cleage
2021 Dale Ricardo Shields
2019-20 Carmen Morgan and Futaba Shioda
2017 Jamal Joseph
2016 Mary-Mitchell Campbell
2015 Arthur French
2014 Baayork Lee
2013 Shauneille Perry
2012 William Greaves
2011 James Earl Jones
2010 Charles Randolph-Wright
2009 Micki Grant
2008 Sidney Poitier
2007 Mercedes Ellington
2006 Bill Cosby 2005 Carl Harms
2004 Judith Jamison
2003 Woodie King, Jr.
2002 Gertrude Jeanette
2001 Brock Peters
2000 Rosa LeNoire
1999 Loften Mitchell
1998 Leonard Etienne de Paul
1997 Athol Fugard
1996 George C. Wolfe
1995 Gil Noble
1994 Lloyd Richards
1993 Katherine Dunham
1992 Art D’Lugoff
1991 Gordon Parks
1990 Maya Angelou
1989 Bill Ross & Dr. Margaret Burroughs
1988 Jacques D’Amboise
1987 Joe Papp
1986 Vinie Burrows
1985 Arthur Mitchell
1984 Lena Horne
1983 John Henry Faulk
1982 Ed Asner
1981 Studs Terkel
1980 Alice Childress
1979 Harry Bellafonte
1978 Sam Jaffe
1977 Pete Seeger
1976 Lillian Hellman
1975 Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee
1974 Paul Robeson
Bebe Neuwirth hosts this presentation of awards to Darius de Haas, Francis Guinan, Mary K Klinger, Linda Lavin, Bonnie Milligan, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Alex Newell, Dale Ricardo Shields, and Michael Patrick Thornton.
“These honorees exemplify the values Robeson stood for,” said DeBorah Sharpe-Taylor, chair of Equity’s Paul Robeson Award Committee, in a statement. “They exemplify how the theatre and social justice are bound because the pursuit of justice and live theatre are foundational pillars in the creation of a worthwhile artistic experience.”
2022 LEGEND AWARD – Ohio University
Dale Ricardo Shields, BFA ’75, MFA ’95, whose marks on the world and the lives of others place [him] in a league of [his] own.
Shields holds a legendary and award-winning resume as an artist and educator, historian, and activist in the arts. His professional work as an actor, director, and stage manager spans Broadway, off-Broadway, television, and film and includes acting credits on “Anyone Can Whistle,” “The Cosby Show” and “Saturday Night Live.” As an educator, Shields has taught workshops and classes for several programs and institutions across Ohio and the United States, garnering him prestigious awards that include the 2017 Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®, the 2017 AUDELCO/“VIV” Special Achievement Award, The Actors Fund 2020 and 2021 ENCORE AWARD, and a 2015 Tony Award® nomination for the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Shields’ drive to preserve the history of African American and Black actors includes the creation of the Facebook website Black Theatre/African American Voices and IForColor.org.
Grace Miller – Ohio News (Ohio University)
Dale believed that we each had something deep, rich, and valuable to bring to the life of our characters and that it was this same voice that gave certain vitality to our own lives. He believes that we each have something to contribute to the world. Dale walked past and repeated, “Write what is in your heart.” I took a deep breath and poured out my heart – all of the thoughts and emotions that I had been holding onto so tightly because I was afraid to share them with anyone. I finished… I stared at the words. I had no idea this was in me. It was cathartic to put it all on paper. And then Dale asked us to read our monologues… Now, when I hesitate to say something, I think of Dale and know that my voice matters.
Nicole Brinkmann Reeves
KENNEDY CENTER AWARDS (Nominator) 2017
I have known Professor Shields’s work in area theater productions and have visited his excellent classes. I have attended his thought-provoking productions. he is incredibly passionate, understanding, compassionate, intelligent, engaging, truthful, and persistent. His “real-world experience” is a major positive component of working with him. He leads by example, actively striving to cut down barriers and serve as a role model for students.
Dr. Miriam Harris
I can comment with authority and knowledge about Dale Shields in the areas of teaching, performance/research/scholarship, and community service. Dale is one of the most energetic, passionate, committed educators and scholars, I have encountered at four different institutions over more than thirty years of teaching.”
Dr. Alphine Jefferson
The past two decades have witnessed Dale’s research across the Internet, information that he freely shares with all who are interested. In an in-depth factual format, he enlightens the public with the history of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous American art forms. I share his drive to educate people on the history and cultural contributions of communities of color. This shared passion exemplifies just one more reason Dale and I have remained friends all these years
Edan Evans deRoziere
LEGEND Award (Nominator) 2017
Dale Shields is a born teacher, exacting, tactful, well-organized, nurturing, articulate, kind, intelligent, and generous. He is mature, his principles are tested and heartfelt. He is sophisticated but he is not cynical. As a director, he’s supportive of artistic concerns and knowledgeable about technical concerns. He knows how to build bridges and foster group problem-solving. His productions make people laugh and cry, and actors lucky enough to be in them have told me how Dale’s direction and example have changed their lives. All along he’s been building bridges online, honoring the contributions of great theater people he’s worked with and learned from.
KENNEDY CENTER AWARDS (Nominator) 2017
The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards
The Kennedy Center
Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award®
Inspirational Teacher Dale Shields
A Story by Nicole Brinkmann Reeves
Dale Ricardo Shields taught me that I have a voice.
I was the shy girl who never thought enough of her own ideas to speak up in class. Then, I met Dale. He taught the History of Black Theatre in America, and as he talked about Dorothy Dandridge, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, and others, he told us the stories of how they made their voices heard. A world unfolded before me that was so much bigger than the small, whiter-than-Wonderbread, Midwestern town where I grew up.
I wanted to learn everything Dale could teach me. I ran ‘crew’ for productions he directed, and I watched the actors grow, develop, and take shape under his guidance. It was a beautiful process, and I couldn’t resist. I signed up for Acting 101 with Dale.
Dale taught us about finding our characters’ motivations and understanding the influences that shaped our characters, but Dale asked for more. He wanted us to find something within ourselves that connected with our characters, something that brought authenticity to the stage. Dale believed that we each had something deep, rich, and valuable to bring to the life of our characters and that it was this same voice that gave certain vitality to our own lives. He believes that we each have something to contribute to the world.
He challenged us to look inward, confront ourselves, and find our voices. I loved learning from Dale, and I thought that was sufficient. But Dale knew there was more in me – more than I knew myself.
One day, he gave us the assignment to write a monologue: Write what is in your heart. I stared at the blank page. Dale walked past and repeated, “Write what is in your heart.” I took a deep breath and poured out my heart – all of the thoughts and emotions that I had been holding onto so tightly because I was afraid to share them with anyone. I finished, “You think it makes you strong to hold all of this in, but the truth is: you are slowly killing yourself.”
I stared at the words. I had no idea this was in me. It was cathartic to put it all on paper. And then Dale asked us to read our monologues. I began shaking, hoping class would end before Dale called on me, but he called on me, I stood up and read. Maybe if I read quickly, I could just get through it. He stopped me and told me to slow down and start over. I gave him a withering look. He stared me down. I started over. A few lines in, I began to cry. But I survived. It did not kill me. When I finished, Dale very quietly said, “Good. You can sit down.”
Now when I hesitate to say something, I think of Dale and know that my voice matters. So, I take a deep breath and speak.
In many people’s lives, there is at least one teacher who inspired them and helped them become who they are today. In our early years, when we are still being formed, they often see in us more than we see in ourselves, more than our families see, and, as a result, help us to evolve into who we ultimately become. These inspirational people are not often recognized for the life-changing role they have played. These are the teachers who define us, teachers who widen our horizons and encourage us to explore. These teachers are touchstones to paths of achieving more than we might have otherwise accomplished, in directions we might not have gone. To celebrate the significant role of teachers in society, The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards will spotlight some of the country’s most inspirational teachers and recognize them for their contributions.
Each year, The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards will solicit nominations from the general public and notable public figures, providing the opportunity to submit stories about teachers and professors who made a significant difference in their lives.
On March 22, Stephen Sondheim‘s birthday, a select number of these teachers will each receive The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award – $10,000 in appreciation for their contributions to the field of teaching. Awardees will also be showcased, along with the people they inspired, on The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards website.
The Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards were created in 2010 in honor of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday and were initiated and funded through the generous support of Freddie and Myrna Gershon.