10th Annual Shirley Verrett Award Ceremony

May 31, 2022 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Stamps Auditorium, Walgreen Drama Center 1226 Murfin Ave., Ann Arbor, MI, 48109

LIVE STREAM the ceremony here


The University of Michigan Women of Color in the Academy Project will present its 10th Annual Shirley Verrett Award to Professor of Theatre & Drama, the Residential College, the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, American Culture, and English Language and Literature, Ashley Lucas. The award ceremony is scheduled for May 31 at 5:00 pm at the Stamps Auditorium. The ceremony begins at 5:00 pm with a reception to follow, starting at 6:00 pm. There may be an option to view the program virtually or as a recording.

Dr. Lucas will be recognized for her visionary leadership that demonstrates the power of theatre to change lives and promote social justice. Her mentorship of women, in particular, has been exemplary.

This year’s award ceremony will include a special guest performance by Dr. Marcía Porter, an award-winning soprano and Professor of Voice at Florida State University. A cousin and former student of Shirley Verrett’s, Dr. Porter is a passionate champion of extraordinary female artists and scholars of color at the University of Michigan and beyond.

The event is free and open to the public, however, registration is requested. Feel free to forward this invitation to those who may be interested in learning more about Shirley Verrett and Ashley Lucas’ impact on academia and the Arts.

Ashley Lucas, 2022 Award Recipient

Ashley Lucas is Professor of Theatre & Drama, at the Residential College, the Penny Stamps School of Art & Design, American Culture, and English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. She is the Director of Latina/o Studies, Former Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), a founding member of the Carceral State Project, and a co-primary investigator on a large-scale humanities archival project called Documenting Criminalization and Confinement. She holds a B.A. in Theater Studies and English from Yale University and a joint Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and Theatre and Drama from the University of California, San Diego. She is a fellow of the Ford Foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, UNC’s Institute for Arts and Humanities, U-M’s Institute for the Humanities, and Hedgebrook Writers in Residence program. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. Latina/o theatre, prison theatre, theatre for social change, and related topics in acting, playwriting, and comparative ethnic studies. Lucas is also the author of an ethnographic play about the families of incarcerated people entitled Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, which she has performed as a one-woman show in the U.S., Ireland, Brazil, and Canada. Her book Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration (Bloomsbury, 2020) examines the ways in which incarcerated people use theatre to counteract the dehumanizing forces of the prison. The book was also translated into Portuguese by Vicente Concilio and published in Brazil (Editora Hucitec, 2021). Her publications include articles in Plough Quarterly, Journal of American Drama and Theatre, the Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Latin American Theater Review, American Music, Urdimento, and Revista de Literatura Contemporania de México. Together with sociologist Jodie Lawston, Lucas guest-edited a special issue of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal on the topic of “Women and Criminal Justice: Policing, Prosecution, and Incarceration” (Summer 2008). Lucas and Lawston also collaborated on an edited volume entitled Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists (SUNY Press 2011) and write a blog by the same title: http://razorwirewomen.wordpress.com. From 2013 to 2019, Lucas also ran the PCAP Brazil Exchange—an exchange program with the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina—taking students to Rio and Florianópolis each summer to do theatre work inside prisons, hospitals, and favelas.


The Shirley Verrett Award was created in 2011 by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost in honor of the late Shirley Verrett, a teacher who “would have walked the world over for her students.” The award is administered by WOCAP at the Center for the Education of Women, and recognizes a faculty member whose teaching, performance, scholarship or service supports the success of female students or faculty in the arts who come from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds.

Verrett was a James Earl Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, as well as an internationally acclaimed opera singer who was one of the pioneering leaders in the generation of black opera singers. She performed more than 40 roles all over the world during the course of her four-decade career.