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Dell’Arte International Celebrates 50 Years with 2024 Prize of Hope Honoring Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu at Baduwa’t Festival

man and woman posing leaning on a large cello laying on its sideAs part of a celebration of 50 years of creations, Dell’Arte International presents the 2024 Prize of Hope.  This year’s Prize of Hope will honor Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu of San Francisco’s First Voice at the 2024 Baduwa’t Festival.

The Prize of Hope Ceremony will occur at 4 pm on July 7, 2024 in the Carlo Theater. Tickets include the ceremony, consisting of a short performance and the presentation of the Prize, drinks and a dinner. Events will end in time for participants to also attend the closing performance of THE POOR OF NEW YORK on Dell’Arte’s Rooney Amphitheater.

Advance tickets are required and are available at

Dell’Arte has been offering the Prize of Hope with the Danish Institute of Popular Theater since 2008; past recipients include Universes (2018), Cornerstone Theater (2016), Tim Robbins & the Actor’s Gang (2008), and many more! This is an event that is truly international and not to be missed.

Since 1976, Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu have, together and separately, created multi-disciplinary work that has received national and international acclaim. The two prominent Asian-American artists were founding faculty at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford, and their broad vision for this organization had its roots in their experience. First Voice was founded in 1995 to provide an organizational structure for their collaborations, which center on the creation of contemporary American art by working in and adapting non-Western theatrical, musical, and spoken word traditions.

“Brenda was an actress in the very first tour of The Dell’Arte Company with their production of LOON’S RAGE. And then Mark Izu composed and played the music for Dell’Arte’s production of

ORIGINAL INSTRUCTIONS, a collaboration with the Karuk and the Hmong cultures in the telling of creation stories,” notes Producing Artistic Director Emerita Michael Fields.  “Their work gives voice to those who are not often heard. And that is an act of Hope that makes them very deserving of the 2024 Prize of Hope.”

First Voice’s mission is to create and present the stories and music of people living between worlds. Critical to this mission is “personal experience” or “voice” as essential to authentic pan-world culture. Through their pursuit of this distinctive purpose, First Voice has, over the years, played a central role in the evolution of the Bay Area’s Asian American arts community and its impact internationally. Throughout the organization’s history, First Voice has produced, presented, toured, published, and recorded original work that incorporates Asian theatre (particularly Japanese) and musical and spoken word traditions into indigenous American art forms like jazz and contemporary performance art. They are unique in the range of work we do which includes: symphonic work, plays, storytelling, jazz ensemble, chamber music, large scale pageant performances with traditional and contemporary dancers, solo monodramas and live performance to silent film.

They collaborate not only across disciplines but also across cultures. Full-length main stage performances usually revolve around issues of place, home, family and survival. They have enjoyed collaborating with artists from Japan, MU, (2013), Legend of Morning Glory (2008), Hong Kong – Kuan-Yin: Our Lady of Compassion (2002), Hawaii treasure Keola Beamer – Ghost Festival I (2001), Basque musician Kepa Junpera (2010), Karuk Tribal elders Julian Lang and Lyn Risling – Hibakusha (1995), musicians and storytellers from the Cherokee nation – Fire in Heaven (2003), Afro-Peruvian, Mayan, Indian & Korean dancers – Return of the Sun (2009) classical conductor, Kent Nagano, Opera Lyon and the Berkeley Symphony – Mermaid (1997) and African-American civil rights poet & actor John O’Neal – Ballad of the Bones (1999). Their work is premiered in San Francisco, then presented locally and toured nationally

First Voice looks for symbols, parables, and shared intent between people that can be woven together to create universal understanding. Their work has garnered Emmys, Dramalogue Awards, Critic Circle Awards, Indie Awards, Goldies, Certificates of Merit from the California State Legislature, San Francisco Mayor, Board of Supervisors and commissions from U.S. Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japanese Department of Cultural Affairs, the Asian Arts Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Japan Friendship, Meet-the-Composer, the Gerbode Foundation, the Dramatist Guild and the American Association of Authors, Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).


Formerly known as the Mad River Festival, the Baduwa’t Festival is a culmination of performing arts, music, celebration and connectivity, held on the ancestral lands of the Wiyot Tribe. In Soulatluk, the Wiyot language, Baduwa’t is the word for Mad River. The festival name change was approved by Wiyot leaders in Spring 2021 and Dell’Arte is honored to support the work of the Wiyot Tribe to revitalize the language by using the original name of the river for the festival name.


The Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre is a unique institution in North America. Its training programs attract students from around the world, with more than 1,000 graduates from 41 countries since the formation of the school in 1975. As one of only a handful of professional ensemble-based theatres in the United States, Dell’Arte is internationally recognized for its work to push the boundaries of physical theatre, its actor-creator training programs, and for pioneering “theatre of place.”

WHO:  Dell’Arte International with Danish Institute of Popular Theater and Aasen Theater of Denmark

WHAT:  The Prize of Hope Ceremony, Performance & Dinner

WHEN:   July 7, 2024 at  4 pm (Doors 3:30pm)

WHERE:  Dell’Arte, 131 H Street, Blue Lake, CA  95525

ENTRANCE:  Advance tickets $50 at

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