Olympia Dukakis to Receive the Commonwealth’s Achievement Award
by Larry Murray
Due to return this summer in Mother Courage and Her Children at Shakespeare & Company, the Academy Award-winning actress and Lowell native Olympia Dukakis has been honored with an Achievement Award by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at a February 19 ceremony at the State House. Several other recipients from all across the state also received recognition and thanks from the state.
“She is dedicating her life to portraying the human condition in beauty and complexity. This is not only because she is one of the most outstanding actresses I have admired since I was a girl, but because of the role model she has played,” said Sen. Eileen Donoghue, D-Lowell,
Dukakis, cousin of former Gov. Michael Dukakis and the daughter of Greek immigrants, said she gained a love of theater from her father, who performed theater in Lowell, and her mother, who played the piano.
“The resilience you need in the theater came right from them,” Dukakis said.
The awards are presented every two years by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, as the state honors individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to our communities, our economy, and the quality of life in Massachusetts. The western part of the state is well represented by Dukakis who joins the creative community of Shelburne Falls, CATA (Community Access to the Arts) of Great Barrington, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, in this year’s notables.
In 2009 the City of Pittsfield was similarly feted, as was Nancy Jane Fitzpatrick of Stockbridge in 2011. Shakespeare & Company 0f Lenox was honored in 2005. The Berkshires continue to be a driving force in the cultural life of the state.
Olympia Dukakis will return to Shakespeare & Company this summer in the title role of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, directed by the company’s artistic director, Tony Simotes, who also helmed The Tempest in 2012 in which Dukakis played Prospera.
The full roster of 2013 recipients was announced earlier by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and include people and organizations from the arts, humanities, and sciences. They are:
- Achievement: Olympia Dukakis, Lowell
- Art/Science Collaboration: The Ecotarium, Worcester
- Access: Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Great Barrington
- Creative Community: Barnstable; Shelburne Falls
- Creative Learning: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst
- Cultural Philanthropy: Neil and Jane Pappalardo, Boston
- Leadership: Marvin Gilmore, Boston
- Media: Jared Bowen, WGBH; The Boston Phoenix
“This extraordinary group of institutions and individuals beautifully represents our state’s unique cultural fabric and tells a powerful story of the great public value of the arts, humanities, and sciences,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “Their collective and individual achievements have contributed enormously to the quality of life in Massachusetts.”
The award-winning actress, director, producer, teacher, activist, and author Olympia Dukakis was on hand to receive a Commonwealth Award for Achievement. A Lowell native, Ms. Dukakis received a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, BAFTA Film Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, and Golden Globe Award for her role as Rose Castorini in Moonstruck. She has appeared in more than 130 productions on and off-Broadway, and on stages across the country and around the world.