Richard Cotovsky to Receive 2013 Special Award at Jeff Awards

May 7, 2013
Jeff Awards Chicago

The Jeff Awards Committee announced that Mary Arrchie Theatre's Richard Cotovsky will receive a Special Award at the 40th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 3, 2013. He will be honored for his cutting edge contributions to Non-Equity Theatre over the past four decades, during which he was dubbed the "Godfather of Storefront Theater" by Nick Digilio of WGN radio.

Born in Chicago, Richard Cotovsky is known for his signature style, his leadership at Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co. and 25 years portraying Abbie Hoffman at the Abbie Hoffman Died for our Sins Theater Festival. In addition, Richard forms alliances and works in close proximity with other theatres and artists. During his career, Richard has worn many theatrical hats, including as an actor, Director, and Producer, and has been an enthusiastic and contributing member of the Non-Equity theatre scene.

While a pharmacy student in the 1970's, Richard became enamored with the theatre after seeing a production of American Buffalo at the St. Nicholas Theatre. He studied acting, turned briefly to the world of improv, and finally got his first dramatic role in the Heiress with Theater on the Lake where he performed in a number of plays.

In the 1980s Richard became a member of Blackbird Theater and later Americana Theater, shared ideas and collaborated with igloo theatre, Wild Dogs, Existence, David Cromer's and Anna Shapiro's Big Game Theater, Cardiff Giant, Latino Chicago, Blind Parrot and Boxer Rebellion. In 1986, Mary-Arrchie was formed, and in 1989 decided they needed their own space and transformed an old dance studio into Angel Island, the home of Mary-Arrchie Theatre, where their permanent history began.

During the decade that followed, Mary-Arrchie productions won numerous Jeff nominations and Awards. Richard continued acting, and in 1995-1996 Richard held the record with the longest running performance of the cabbie in Hellcab. As Richard's distinctive style developed, he was pursued as an actor at a variety of theatres, including Steppenwolf, where he was in Mother Courage and understudied the role of Arthur in Superior Donuts, which he was told was written with him in mind. Richard later went on to perform the role in the Washington D. C. production.

Throughout the 2000s, Mary-Arrchie Theatre was producing award-winning shows. David Cromer directed Hot l Baltimore and Mojo. Richard was nominated for his role as Dodge in Buried Child. He has appeared on television in many shows filmed in Chicago, and is in demand as a character actor.

In the last few years Mary-Arrchie has seen a new collaboration with David Cromer, who directed Cherrywood. In 2012, Mary-Arrchie mounted its own production of Superior Donuts, which was a great artistic and financial success, including 4 Jeff nominations. And this past season, the Glass Menagerie also met with great success and will be remounted at Theater Wit.

June 13th marks Mary-Arrchie's 27th anniversary and this year will be the 25th Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theater Festival at The Den Theatre. The Jeff Awards Committee is proud to honor Richard Cotovsky's four decades of significant and ongoing contributions to theatre and to present its 2013 Special Award to Richard Cotovsky.

Previously, the Jeff Awards Committee announced 120 nominations in 25 categories of Non-Equity Jeff Awards for productions that opened between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013. The Non-Equity Awards honor excellence in Chicago theatres not under a union contract. Jeff judges attended opening nights of 146 productions offered by 65 Non-Equity producing organizations. The judges recommended 54 of those shows, making them eligible for Non-Equity Jeff Award nominations. Thirty-three theatre companies received nominations.

The 40th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, June 3, 2013, at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, Chicago, IL. Doors open for a cash bar at 6:00 p.m., with a light buffet at 6:30 p.m., and the presentation ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door. A group rate of $35 is available for parties of 10 or more. Festive cocktail attire is suggested, and the public is cordially invited. Tickets may be purchased online with a credit card at or by mail with the downloadable mail-order form. For more information contact John Glover, Non-Equity Wing Chair, at Follow live twitter feeds from the ceremony and behind the scenes at @josephjefferson.

The Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since it was established in 1968. With up to 52 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre, the Jeff Awards is committed to celebrating the vitality of Chicago area theatre by recognizing excellence through its recommendations, awards, and honors. The Jeff Awards fosters the artistic growth of area theatres and theatre artists and promotes educational opportunities, audience appreciation, and civic pride in the achievements of the theatre community. Each year The Jeff Awards evaluates over 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually. Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre. The next Equity Awards Ceremony, honoring productions presented under union contracts, will be held on Monday, November 4, 2013, at Drury Lane Oakbrook in Oakbrook Terrace.