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 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.

Museum Exhibition
“Desire,” Blanton Museum of Art, curator: Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, curator

Group Gallery Exhibition
Polymict,” Okay Mountain, curator: Nathan Green

Solo Gallery Exhibition
Beilu Liu: Bound,” D Berman Gallery

Work of Art: Independent or Public Project
24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project,’ Liz Glynn, Arthouse

Work of Art: One of A Kind
Halliburton Archiving Solutions (II), 1987,’ Adam Schreiber, “One on One on One,” Art Palace

Work of Art: Installation
‘Camp Base Camp: Everest Friends,’ Peter Reichardt, Mary Rothlisberger, and Kristyn Weaver, “Ideas of Mountains,” Creative Research Laboratory

Okay Mountain

Touring Show, Art
The Lining of Forgetting: Internal and External Memory in Art,” Austin Museum of Art

Symphonic Performance
Symphony VI, Golden Hornet Project

Chamber Performance
Ellen Fullman and the Long String Instrument, New Music Co-op

Choral Performance
Ode to Common Things, Conspirare Symphonic Choir with Austin Symphony

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

Original Composition/Score
Two Cautionary Tales,” Steve Snowden

Production, Drama
‘Dionysus in 69,’ Rude Mechanicals

Production, Comedy
‘Killer Joe,’ Capital T Theatre

Production, Musical
‘john & jen’, Penfold Theatre Company

Beth Burns, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’
Mark Pickell, ‘Killer Joe’

Acting in a Leading Role
Pamela Christian, ‘Mary Stuart’
Ryan Crowder, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’
Joey Hood, ‘The Atheist’
Gabriel Luna, ‘Black Snow’/’Orestes’/’Endgame’

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’

Ensemble Performance
‘Black Snow,’ Tutto Theatre Company
‘bobrauschenbergamerica,’ Mary Moody Northen Theatre

David Mark Cohen New Play Award
‘House of Several Stories,’ John Boulanger

Music Direction
Lyn Koenning, ‘The Difficulty of Crossing a Field’

Madge Darlington/Shawn Sides, ‘Dionysus in 69’

Touring Show, Theater
Paved Paradise Redux,’ Fusebox Festival

Scenic Design
Lisa Laratta, ‘Murder Ballad Murder Mystery’/’Black Snow’

Costume Design
Alison Heryer, ‘The Trojan Women’/’The Difficulty of Crossing a Field’

Lighting Design
Stephen Pruitt, ‘bobrauschenbergamerica’/’The Trash Project’/’Ears Wide Open’

Sound Design
William Meadows, ‘Impermanence’/’The Trash Project’

Dance Concert
‘The Trash Project,’ Forklift Danceworks

Short Work
“Angel of My Nature,” Truth & Beauty/The Bach Project
Deborah Hay, ‘No Time to Fly’

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

  • June 16, 2010
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