Ann Atwater Theater Award

Photo of Ann Atwater by Rodrigo Dorfman; used by permission.
The Durham Civil Rights Mural by Brenda Miller Holmes.



Manbites Dog Theater seeks nominations for its 2020 Ann Atwater Theater Award, to be presented to Triangle theater artists or companies whose body of work reflects and honors Ann Atwater’s lifelong commitment to activism for social justice.

The award comes with an unrestricted cash grant from the Manbites Dog Theater Fund, and is presented at the discretion of the Manbites Dog Theater Board of Directors.

Ann Atwater (1935-2016) was an African American activist and grassroots organizer in Durham, North Carolina who worked all her life as an advocate for issues of civil rights, fair housing, education, and employment. Her unlikely alliance and friendship in the early 1970s with local Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis as Durham struggled with the integration of public schools became the subject of the book (and later play and movie) The Best of Enemies.

Manbites Dog Theater, a professional non-profit theater company founded in Durham in October 1987, serves the Triangle area of central North Carolina. Manbites Dog’s purpose is to foster, promote, and increase public knowledge and appreciation of theater by producing and sponsoring live theater performance and conducting other activities to encourage public interest in and discussion of theater, including making grants to further such purposes.


  1. Nominees must be based in or present a significant amount of their work in the Triangle region of North Carolina, defined as the counties of Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake.
  2. Individuals or companies may not nominate themselves.
  3. Nomination letters should be no more than two pages long. They should include a short bio of an individual theater artist or theater company, and a concise description of how the artist or company’s work reflects and exemplifies the life and values of Ann Atwater. In their letter, nominators should acknowledge any business or personal relationship to the nominee. Please do not include supplementary material or attachments.
  4. Nomination letters should be sent by physical mail (only) to Manbites Dog Theater, P.O. Box 402, Durham, North Carolina 27702. (No email submissions, please.)
  5. Deadline: Nomination letters must be received no later than Friday March 6, 2020.

Nominations will be evaluated by the Manbites Dog Theater Board of Directors. Award recipient(s) and amount(s) will be at the discretion of the Board. The award(s), if given, will be announced by the end of April, 2020. Award(s) are unrestricted and may be used at the discretion of the individual or company. Tax liability, if any, is the responsibility of the recipient individual or company.

Questions? Email us at with the words “Ann Atwater Award” in the subject line.