The League of Professional Theatre Women
is pleased to announce that
Petrona de la Cruz

has been chosen to receive the 2023 Gilder/Coigney International Theatre Award

with the Award Ceremony scheduled for October 10, 2023

(New York, NY) Continuing its 40th Anniversary Celebration, The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) is  pleased to announce that Petrona de la Cruz of Chiapas, Mexico has been chosen to receive the 2023  Gilder/Coigney International Theatre Award (GCITA). The GCITA Program was established in 2011 in honor  of Rosamond Gilder and Martha Coigney, two legendary theatre women who chartered a decades-long and enduring course of productive diplomatic relations through the Arts. The triennial award has previously been  given to Odile Gakire Katese (Rwanda), Patricia Ariza (Colombia), Adelheid Roosen (The Netherlands) and  Hanane Hajj Ali (Lebanon).

GCITA Co-directors Linda Chapman and Joan D. Firestone announce that two-time GCITA Finalist Maya Zbib (Lebanon) will also receive Special Recognition this year.

Petrona de la Cruz was the first indigenous person to win Mexico's coveted Rosario Castellanos Prize for  Literature in 1992 and then received the National Council for Culture and the Arts grant, the highest in Mexico, in  2002. In 1999, FOMMA (Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya), which she formed in 1994 to support Mayan women and  children, received a national award given by IMIFAP (Mexican Institute of Research on the Family and Population)  and sponsored by the Summit Foundation for its work in radio, theater, and education in Mexico. Cruz first  practiced theater with the Sna Jtz'ibajom, a Mayan cultural cooperative in a social climate that discouraged  women from speaking publicly of their experiences. There, she began to explore community theater as a medium  for addressing problems such as domestic violence, rape, alcohol abuse, migration, and poverty as they affect the  lives of women. Her debut play, Una mujer desesperada focuses on the seemingly endless violence visited on  Mayan women, and the matter-of-fact impossibility of recourse. It was the first play written by an indigenous  Highland Mayan woman about the real life social drama of family violence. Since then, her plays have been  performed in several countries, and she continues to write as she searches for new ways to encourage economic  and cultural development for indigenous women and children. In addition to writing and performing, Cruz  currently serves as a Congresswoman for the State of Chiapas local Congress for the 2021-2024 term.

Without theatre we could not understand why we must continue dreaming despite the pain, sorrow, corruption  and other beasts that are eating away at our civilization; we must bet on art to break these stigmas. Petrona de la Cruz

The only Award of its kind, the GCITA honors the exceptional work of theatre women around the world who are  making a difference in their communities and in the lives of women. It includes a cash prize and travel expenses to  New York City for an Award Ceremony and a series of special events that celebrate the winner’s work and  acknowledge all of the nominees. 

The 2023 Award will be presented on October 10, 2023 at a location to be announced. 

Fifteen artists were nominated for the 2023 Award, with Petrona de la Cruz chosen from a group of four finalists  which also included: Leila Toubel (Tunisia), Lydia Koniordou (Greece), and Maria Tri Sulistyani (Indonesia). 

The other nominees are: Tereza Andersson (Sweden), Sonya Armaghanyan (Armenia), Hope Azeda (Rwanda),  Cayetana Guillen Cuervo (Spain), Yael Farber (South Africa), Kiyo Gutierrez (Guadalajara, Mexico), Hala Omran (France/Syria), Romana Paula (Argentina), Regina Miranda Ribeiro (Brazil), and Morm Sokly (Cambodia).

LPTW is a membership organization that has championed women in theatre and advocated for increased equity  and access for practitioners throughout the industry. Our programs and initiatives create community, cultivate  leadership, celebrate the historic contributions and contemporary achievements of women in theatre, and increase opportunities and recognition for women working in theatre. To learn more or become a member, visit

contact Joan D. Firestone and Linda Chapman, Co-Directors
[email protected]