Louis Cancelmi received the annual St. Clair Bayfield Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation for his performance as Achilles in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Troilus and Cressida. The award was presented at Actors’ Equity Association’s Eastern Regional Membership Meeting at 2 p.m. on January 9, 2017, at the Equity office in New York City.
Established in 1973 in memory of Equity member St. Clair Bayfield, the award honors the best performance in a supporting role by an actor in a Shakespearean play in the New York City metropolitan area. The recipient receives a $1,000 check and an engraved crystal plaque.
The award was presented to Cancelmi, by Sam Waterston, who was not only the Prosperto to Cancelmi’s Caliban in a prior Shakespeare in the Park production of The Tempest, but is also Cancelmi’s father-in-law. Although Waterston was not able to see Cancelmi’s Achilles due to his own performing schedule, he joked, “He was magnificent as Caliban; he was almost as great as he was as Achilles in Troilus.”
Waterston continued, “Based on what I saw you do in The Tempest and elsewhere, and based on all I’ve heard, I know your Achilles was good. It was great. It was out there. It was daring. It was complete. It was beautifully thought out. It was yours. It was physically committed. I wouldn’t want to miss it—even if I did.”
Cancelmi’s performance is even more notable due to the circumstances in which he stepped into the role, replacing David Harbour who was injured during previews. Cancelmi reflected on this experience in his remarks, saying he was grateful to step into a show already in fantastic shape due to an exceptionally talented—and welcoming—cast. He also thanked director Dan Sullivan “who not only invited me into the company, but really let me create what I could of my own Achilles in a very short period of time.”
Cancelmi has performed at regional theaters including the Arena Stage (Washington, DC), Steppenwolfe Theatre Company (Chicago), Huntington Theatre Company (Boston) and Yale Rep (New Haven), as well as Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, the Public Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and SoHo Rep. He appeared on Broadway in Blasted and Vincent in Brixton.
The judges for the Bayfield Award are: Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Adam Feldman, Time Out New York; Susan Haskins, Theater Talk; Harry Haun, Playbill; and David Rosenberg, The Hour Newspapers.
Louis Cancelmi (left) with Sam Waterston (right).