Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac receives the world's largest theatre award

Taylor Mac, the American playwright, actor, performance artist, director, producer, and singer-songwriter, has been awarded the International Ibsen Award 2020.

Taylor Mac is mainly active in New York, but his work has been performed at a wide range of venues all over the world. Mac is the first American to win the honor, previous recipients including iconic artists such as Christoph Marthaler, Forced Entertainment, Peter Handke, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine, Heiner Goebbels, and Jon Fosse.

- Taylor Mac is a groundbreaking and transgressive dramatic artist. An artist who in a spectacular fashion succeeds in offering other, richer perspectives of the times we live in and what it means to be human.

In its selection process, the committee has wished to honor a “game changer”, someone who opens our eyes to what the theatre can be. With Taylor Mac, we have found a winner who looks beyond himself, with a burning commitment to equality and society.

The decision to honor Taylor Mac was made in January, before Covid-19 turned the world on its head. Now, in light of this year’s dramatic events, I am grateful for the unifying force Mac represents, maybe especially now, when we cannot experience dramatic arts in close proximity to each other. That Taylor Mac is the recipient of the International Ibsen Award 2020 is both meaningful and comforting, states committee chair Ingrid Lorentzen.

The committee states that “Taylor Mac asks fundamental question about what theatre should be and why it matters in the twenty-first century. In a world of increased polarisation and divisions, Taylor Mac crafts work that shows theatre’s potential to connect and unite audiences, to think about how we relate to culture in varied and different forms and what it means to engage with others imaginatively, ethically and politically through the act of performance”. Read the committee’s statement in full here.

About the award

The Norwegian government established the International Ibsen Award in 2007. The winner receives NOK 2.5 million (approximately $300,000 U.S. dollars) and is selected by a committee comprising seven theatre professionals appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. The award is presented every other year on March 20, Henrik Ibsen’s birthday. This year the presentation of the winner was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Award ceremony, which usually takes place at the Norwegian National Theatre’s biennial Ibsen Festival, has been postponed and reimagined as a digital celebration in light of the pandemic. It will now kick off an online event entitled Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce…Pandemic! on December 12, 2020. 

The committee

Ingrid Lorentzen (Chair), Artistic Director of the Norwegian National Ballet since 2012. Hanne Tømta, Artistic and General Manager of the National Theatre of Norway, ICON and The International Ibsen Festival. Anders Beyer, CEO & Artistic Director of Bergen International Festival since 2012. Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Copenhagen Opera Festival 2009-2012. Hilkka-Liisa Ilvanainen, director, artistic director, and curator. Artistic Co-Director of Tampere Theatre Festival in Finland. Dr. Thomas Oberender, Director of Berliner Festspiele since 2012. Dramaturge and author. Former Director of Drama for the Salzburg Festival since 2006. Roman Dolzhanskiy, theatre critic and dramaturge. Chief Dramaturge of the Theatre of Nations (Moscow), Artistic Director of NET (New European Theatre) festival.