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Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi Honored as Recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association's 2015 Award of Honor
EVANSTON, IL - On September 19, 2015 Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi will be honored as the recipient of the Illinois Theatre Association's 2015 Award. The awards presentation will take as part of the Illinois Theatre Association's 42nd Annual Convention, Celebrating Our Theatre Community: Advocating, Connecting, and Supporting, which will be held at Illinois Central College and the Holiday Inn and Suites in East Peoria, Illinois.

Aimee-Lynn Newlan, Executive Director of the Illinois Theatre Association, states:
"Each year the Illinois Theatre Association recognizes both individuals and organizations for their significant contributions of promoting quality theatre throughout the state of Illinois. Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi was nominated by the Illinois theatre community, approved by ITA's divisional representatives, and accepted by ITA's Board of Directors. We are thrilled to provide this much-deserved recognition."

Sylvia enjoying the crowd at the Shipwrecked Gala
Sylvia is a co-founder of The Actors Gymnasium and an Artistic Associate of The Lookingglass Theatre Company. Sylvia has won the 3Arts Award for Design, four Joseph Jefferson Awards, including a Special Achievement Award for her circus choreography of Lookingglass Alice which has toured nationally and been seen by over 100,000 people. Sylvia is a second generation circus performer who grew up touring with various circuses, including Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. She also performed at The Circus World Championships in London, England. In 1990 she moved to Chicago and began her career as a circus teacher and choreographer. Other theater credits include The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Children's Theater, Marriott Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Redmoon, and Steppenwolf.

Sylvia after winning the 3Arts Award for Design
The coming year looks to be another busy one for Hernandez-DiStasi. On top of her usual involvement as The Actors Gymnasium's Artistic Director, overseeing all classes, events and productions at The Actors Gymnasium, she is program director for the Professional Circus Training Program which launches its inaugural year in September. She continues to provide circus choreography for productions throughout Chicago and this year will be returning to the AG stage to feature in the annual winter circus along side David Catlin and Lindsey Noel Whiting under the direction of Chris Mathews. Unfortunately Sylvia will not be able to attend the ceremony on Sept 19 due to the opening of Lookingglass Alice in Denver Colorado.

Other recipients include:

2015 Awards of Excellence
Creative Drama
Stacy Deemar
Theatre for Young Audiences
Chicago Kids Company
Secondary School Theatre
Patricia Haynes
College/University Theatre
Chris Gray, Illinois Central College
Community Theatre
The Drama Group
Professional Theatre
First Folio Theatre

Anne Thurman Mentorship Award
TBA at 9/19 Convention - it's a surprise!

2015 Awards of Honor
Non-ITA Member
Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi, The Actors Gymnasium
ITA Member
TBA at 9/19 Convention - it's a surprise!

It is the MISSION of the Illinois Theatre Association to advocate for the art of quality theatre in Illinois by:
  • establishing an Illinois membership similar in purpose to and affiliated with national theatre organizations.
  • encouraging a closer understanding and communication between community, educational and professional theatre.
  • informing the general public of the diverse nature and extent of Illinois theatre (advocacy for the art of theatre throughout the state).
  • cooperating with appropriate state and federal agencies and with regional and national theatre organizations in promoting increased recognition and program development for Illinois theatre at all levels.
  • promoting and perpetuating the highest caliber of theatre production, teaching and research at all levels of theatre within the state of Illinois.
  • affirming the important value of theatre in the lives of individuals.

The ITA provides numerous services throughout Illinois (festivals, conferences, focus groups, professional development workshops, publications). In doing so, the ITA strives to become "the representative association for all things theatre in Illinois." The ITA is comprised of six divisions: College/University Theatre, Community Theatre, Creative Drama, Professional Theatre, Secondary School Theatre, and Theatre for Young Audiences.

For more information about the Illinois Theatre Association, visit or call 312-265-5922.



The Actors Gymnasium is dedicated to bringing a new physicality to the American Theatre. Encouraging ground-breaking theatrical exploration, The Actors Gymnasium teaches circus arts, physical theatre and multi-disciplinary performance to children and adults; produces original, daring works of circus-theatre; and serves as a talent resource, providing performance opportunities to our students and innovative professional event entertainment for a wider audience. At The Actors Gymnasium, people Learn To Fly - physically, emotionally, and creatively. For more information, please visit