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!