The prestigious award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere. Emmes and Benson founded South Coast Repertory in 1964. In 1988, the company received a special Tony Award in recognition of its outstanding contributions to the American theater.
Benson has distinguished himself in the staging of contemporary work, and has received the LADCC Distinguished Achievement in Directing award seven times. Emmes has received numerous awards during his SCR career, including a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for The Philanderer.