Thursday, May 15, 2008

Should there be a Hubbie? Or a Bloggie?

The recent Norton Awards only reminded me of the wayward nature of award committees. Not that the IRNEs are any less error-prone - I mean seriously, Man of La Mancha? (I didn't even see it, btw - I hate that fucking show.) What's strangest is when the two awards mysteriously align, as was the case this year with the mediocre No Man's Land at the ART. How did it garner so many awards, from both the IRNEs and the Nortons? "Philistines attempting to look sophisticated" was one analysis, and I'm inclined to agree. To be fair, the Nortons were mostly respectable - all the acting awards went to people who deserved them (aside from ALF's Max Wright), either for the work cited or other roles (award committees tend to play catch-up). The directing awards were a little odder - I'd never have given one to David Wheeler for No Man's, but Paul Daigneault came through with Some Men (less so with Parade and Zanna Don't, but then neither piece is interpretively interesting). The production awards were likewise a mixed bag - Kentucky Cycle was probably the only fringe show everybody saw, Clean House, Sarah Ruhl's recycled Susan Sarandon movie, got the Louise Kennedy vote, and No Child was a bone tossed to the ART (which gets verry pissy when it's not recognized enough!). Not generally as solid a group as last year's awards, I'd say, and the whole thing felt compromised by the fact that the Nortons are now dumping all design work - be it for costumes, sound, lighting, or set - into one category (just so everyone can go home early, I guess).

But could another award committee do any better? It's an interesting question. Is it time for a third local theatre award, a Blogger, or Bloggie, to be decided only by the electronic media critics, who by and large tend to be a smarter bunch than the printies - or at least, write for a smarter audience? Actually, it's probably past time - only somebody else do it, I'm too busy!


  1. I'm not sure there are enough internet only critics in the Boston area.

    The IRNE critics, for the most part, just aren't getting around as much as they used to. There are, of course, the stalwarts, but I have talked to a few theatre companies who have regularly been producing fringe theatre who have had trouble luring a sizable IRNE contingent to even a three week run.

    Seeing how the economy plays out across our theatre landscape will be a very interesting thing as well.

    Most fringe companies are powered by the income the company earns at the day job. As the belt tightens, theatre may become an expense that might need to be trimmed.

    Choices for awards ballots may become very narrow indeed.

  2. Building off what Art says, is there anything useful in the idea of starting something similar to the Helen Hayes Awards of Washington, DC or the Jeff Awards of Chicago? In those cases, participating theatres are guaranteed a specific number of adjudicators who are drawn from a pool of theatre artists, critics and veteran audience members.

    The pool of adjudicators from various walks of life has always been something that it seems to me that Boston could use - both for the plurality of opinion and also provide nominators that represent the audiences that see the shows.

    I'm also always interested by the function of award shows. Are they to celebrate the best of theatre, to recognize the local community, to provide another marketing tool for theatres to use (the Jeff Awards have the "Jeff Recommended" category which allows theatres to use the award process for marketing while the production is still running).