After the gusher of cynicism and bitterness surrounding this years Tony Award telecast I suggested on Twitter that instead of whining about movie stars and dime store trinkets representing our business that A.) They were in a different business and B.) Whining that They are getting it wrong doesn’t help, you need to show how to do it right.
It is easy to sit back and deride everything that is wrong with theatre and it is a lot of work to advocate for what is right, who is right. who the shining stars in our regions and towns are, whose scripts they should be reading and which artists they should be dying to collaborate with.
The problem dogging theatre in America isn’t primarily a quality problem, it’s an exposure problem. No one knows what’s going on and American Theatre only has so many fingers to type with. Audiences crave certainty in their spending and the knowledge that what they’re seeing is legitimate. We collectively need to stop talking about how X publication is covering the wrong thing and cover it ourselves. If you’re so smart? Tell us. Stand for something. Confer legitimacy where you see fit.
There is a lot of fear around approaching others’ work critically. A fear of backlash, of stepping out of line, and even of liking something not cool enough for the hive mind. But that shouldn’t mean that you stop advocating for the things that you love, about the shows that melted your brain, that inspired you to create, that intimidated you from ever creating again because they were so good….
That’s an ongoing conversation that we need to keep reminding ourselves that to have, but to kick us off I’d like to talk about an awards ceremony recently held in Austin. I know there is lot of scorn heaped on awards but I am personally for them and this sort of ceremony is a great model for what I think these sorts of awards so attempt to do.
On Monday, June 7th, the Austin Critic’s Table announced the winners of the 2009-10 awards. The Critic’s Table is an informal collection of the critics in town for the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Chronicle and MightBeGood.com. The roster of critics on Austin has a very cordial relationship with the arts community. Most of them are artists themselves and take part in one discipline or another. All of them are underpaid and overworked. I believe only 2 or the dozen are employed full time as critics, but they see everything. According to legend and Robert Faires, they meet in a corner booth at Opal Devine’s over martinis and a couple of baskets of french fries and hash out the nominations. My kind of group.
As you can see below, the awards themselves cover the gamut of artistic disciplines and one of the huge strengths of this tradition is that is places the players from all of the disciplines in the same room together, something that rarely happens. The ceremony is very informal and the physical awards are certificates that Mr. Faires prints up. The Critic’s Table isn’t at all afraid to give more than one award in a category, and errs on the side of rewarding multiples rather than not recognizing someone truly worthy.
I admit freely that I didn’t see everything below.
I didn’t see maybe but a third of the stuff on this list.
My posting of this list is my faith in the judgment of this group of critics not a direct personal conferring of Legitimacy.
Where ever possible I have linked a groups or person’s site and the project that was awarded. Take a minute or two to bounce around and get a feel for them. They have analogs in your community. They are just like folks you know and work with and they are GOOD.
“Desire,” Blanton Museum of Art, curator: Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, curator
Work of Art: Installation
‘Camp Base Camp: Everest Friends,’ Peter Reichardt, Mary Rothlisberger, and Kristyn Weaver, “Ideas of Mountains,” Creative Research Laboratory
Touring Show, Art
“The Lining of Forgetting: Internal and External Memory in Art,” Austin Museum of Art
Symphony VI, Golden Hornet Project
‘A View From the Bridge,’ UT Butler Opera Center
Cristina Caldas, ‘A View From the Bridge’
Brad Raymond, ‘Albert Herring’
Jean-Paul Fouchecourt, ‘The Star’
Douglas Harvey, cello, Don Quixote
“Two Cautionary Tales,” Steve Snowden
‘Dionysus in 69,’ Rude Mechanicals
‘Killer Joe,’ Capital T Theatre
‘john & jen’, Penfold Theatre Company
Beth Burns, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’
Mark Pickell, ‘Killer Joe’
Acting in a Supporting Role
Michael Amendola, ‘Our Town’ (Zach Theatre)
Smaranda Ciceu, ‘Black Snow’
Sean Martin, ‘Mary Stuart’/’Three Days of Rain’
Jose Villareal, ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’
David Mark Cohen New Play Award
‘House of Several Stories,’ John Boulanger
Lyn Koenning, ‘The Difficulty of Crossing a Field’
Lisa Laratta, ‘Murder Ballad Murder Mystery’/’Black Snow’
Alison Heryer, ‘The Trojan Women’/’The Difficulty of Crossing a Field’
Stephen Pruitt, ‘bobrauschenbergamerica’/’The Trash Project’/’Ears Wide Open’
William Meadows, ‘Impermanence’/’The Trash Project’
‘The Trash Project,’ Forklift Danceworks
Masa Kolar, “Your Provision”
Jaime Lynn Witts, ‘Truth & Beauty: The Bach Project ‘
‘Ears Wide Open,’ Tapestry Dance Company
Touring Show, Dance
Black Grace, Texas Performing Arts
Special Citations – 2010
John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility: Graham Reynolds
W.H. “Deacon” Crain Award for Outstanding Student Work: LaTasha Stephens, UT Theatre & Dance; Jacob Trussell, St. Edward’s University
Graced in the Machine Award: Don Anderson, “The Crane Dance,” The Trash Project
Get Up, Up, and Away Award: Shannon McCormick & Shana Merlin
Time Out of Mind Award: The Hideout’s 40-Hour Improv Marathon