Nature tried to rain on the parade of this annual celebration of artistic excellence Sunday night, forcing a last-minute change of venue for the dinner and program to Michael's On East from the grounds of The Ringling. But it felt as if no one missed a beat in honoring theater artist Aleshea Harris, who will receive the gift of both time and money to complete a new work that will be presented in partnership with Asolo Rep Theatre in 2023.
Just like old, pre-Covid times, guests mingled in the Michael's courtyard (albeit with masks and limited attendance) before moving into the Ballroom (where tables held little bottles of hand sanitizer) for dinner, remarks by Hermitage artistic director and CEO Andy Sandberg, and a video highlighting past Greenfield Prize winners as well. Two brief excerpts from Harris' work were performed by actresses Yve Lyles and Imani Williams, and Harris emotionally thanked the jurors, the Greenfield Foundation, the Hermitage and her mother (who was present) for believing in her. The evening closed, fittingly given the past year's hardships, with a rousing rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "I'm Still Here" delivered by Annie Morrison.