Shreveport-Bossier Theatre Blog

This blog designed to be a forum for discussion of theatre in Shreveport and Bossier City.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Memory Awards: Are You Serious?

WOW! I really can't believe what I read in the August issue of SB Magazine.

Thanks to those of you who have posted comments on the last entry, but I am now giving you an actual Memory Awards post upon which to comment.

In reading the list of award winners, I was struck by the fact that maybe the problems these awards have are not the fault of the judges. It strikes me that maybe, in fact, the judges are not trained in what to look for when viewing a production. It also strikes me that some of the "rules" (I use that term for lack of a better one) governing the awards are not fair to performers and technicians. Don't get me wrong, someone will ALWAYS find fault with awards, but if SB Magazine actually wants their theatre awards to be credible in the opinions of many in the theatre community, perhaps they will rethink some of the "rules" and maybe train the judges.

Criteria--Are there actual criteria judges look for when viewing a production? Case in point...even though Fiddler on the Roof was surprisingly better than I thought it was going to be, how did it win Best Musical over Singin' in the Rain or even Beauty and the Beast? What are the criteria when choosing nominees? I know that Peter Pan Players used some of the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse summer set for Aladdin, but Aladdin did have a set. Jamie Sanders' set for FOTR worked very well for that production. Due to what reason(s) were the SITR and B&B sets the only two nominated?

Categories of Awards--How can one person win two awards for one role? That really does not make any sense to me. Gretchen Edwards-Page's performance of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker was truly wonderful. I found her honest and subtle with a very nuanced performance. Yet, she is a juvenile actress. Nominate her in the Juvenile category, not both. How could Ansley Hughes be nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her performance in FOTR (a principal role) and also be nominated for Most Memorable Performance for an Actor or Actress in a Non-Principal Role? Again, I am clueless.

Nominees--Oh, my, where to even begin on this one? First of all, some notable omissions from the list of nominees. Patrick Kirton as Macbeth and John Bogan as Banquo in Macbeth. How in the world were these two actors left off the list? Where was Destin Bass as Aladdin in Aladdin? Did we only have three lead actors in musical this season? According to SB Magazine we did? What about Henry Walker in To Kill a Mockingbird? Granted, he is not Gregory Peck, but come on!!! It's Atticus Finch for God's sake. Courtney Gaston's lights in B & B were quite good, but were there no lights in SITR or Are We There Yet? or Honky Tonk Angels ? Why were there only two musicals nominated in this category? I could go on, but I'm not. Now, for nominees that shouldn't have been...Bedroom Farce was an ENSEMBLE show if ever I have seen one. How did Michael Blake Powell pull a nomination as Lead Actor? I've already discussed the Gretchen Edwards-Page and Ansley Hughes issue. Haley Evans in TKAM. She is a juvenile. Nominate her as such.

The awards that shouldn't have been and other questions--Someone PLEASE tell me how a professional costume rental service can be awarded Best Costume Design in a Drama!!! This is what that company does. They get paid incredibly well for it, too. This has happened before, too. Patric McWilliams received this award two years ago for 1776. Most, if not all, of those costumes were rented. McWilliams, at least, selected the costumes which were used in the production. I was under the impression that these awards were for achievements in local, amateur theatre. I guess I was wrong. SITR should have been awarded Best Musical over FOTR. I wonder if Cynthia Whitaker was awarded the Best Director award because she didn't kill a child in her cast of thousands. If the old expression that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" holds true, maybe we can change it to "the loudest actor gets the awards". The night I saw FOTR Mike Martindale was very off-pitch but definitely loud. Maybe he was better the performances the judges saw. Although, the award should have gone to Patrick Kirton for his role as the Beast in B&B. What happened to Trey Jackson? His Cosmo in SITR was one of the best supporting performances seen in recent memory. Although the costumes in SITR were good and appropriate, I am not sure they should have won. Mary Joris--In my book, you win the award for Best Director in a Drama for The Miracle Worker.

A few other comments on the matter--
1. Why were Fiddler on the Roof and Little Women not reviewed? Granted, SB Magazine does not review shows, but I think that should be a pre-requisite for being eligible for awards.
2. Who are the judges, anyway? There was never a question of who they were when The Times gave out awards.
3. Perhaps we should just have a "Special Recognition" issue of the magazine instead of awards. The judges (or whoever) would just cite performances and productions, etc. that were worthy of mentioning.
4. If the magazine continues the tradition of awards, they need to be handled fairly, and the most deserving performers/directors/technicians/productions should be awarded. It seems in looking at the list of winners, the goal was to make sure each theatre had their share of awards regardless of quality.

I'm sure some of you will agree with these observations. I'm sure others of you will take issue with many of the comments/questions/suggestions I have made. That's fine.

Remember, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

Happy theatre-going!

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with most of what you said. Good analysis. I do have one question though. IF the costume award can be given to a professional costume shop (and I'm not suggesting it should be allowed), then why not give it to the shop that costumed "Beauty and the Beast"? Those were the most innovative costumes of the year.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent and thoughtful. You left out your opinion on the RoadRunner.

BEbeep

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

??????

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares what a group of random theatre going "SB Magazine" judges thinks? Big deal. If you're proud of your work that is all that matters. Not an award or a review.

Enjoy performing and working on shows and stop thinking about what others say.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah the age old battle of what others say . . . The issue is addressed because it is present in our community. The the person above, if you don't enjoy the sites opinion of others opinions, then stop reading. This is more of a debate than anything. A gathering of opinions.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To "age old battle":
Why do you berate the previous poster "who cares"?
If someone doesn't agree with you, may he no longer participate in the "gathering of opinions"?

"This is more of a debate than anything."

My biggest problem with the rants on this site is high-pocracy. You can't have open debate and stifle disagreement. You can't have anonymity or pseudonymity and obsess over knowing who posted what or the identity of the bloginator/bloginatrix.

Be thoughtful and thought-provoking. Play nice. Quit telling people to change the channel or go play elsewhere.

Have a nice day. (I mean that.)

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Loralie said...

Wow! I guess theatre ranks up there with politics and relegion . . . things not to be discussed in public. just joking! hope everyone has a nice day!

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was excited to see my opinions posted by the blogger already. Now I don't have to type all of it out. Ha! A comment on the costume issue: yes, rentals were made in several of the theaters this year, but there were also original and theater owned pieces added into that mix. Beauty and the Beast not only rented those amazing costumes, but there was a little sweatshop going on backstage because so many other things were needed for costume. Those poor souls get no mention? Every show I have ever been in with rentals could never get by on just that. It's like someone mentioned before, the costumers must pick and choose even if they rent a couple of pieces. Another note about rentals: Beauty and the Beast's set was credited to the rental company. It was overlooked that the tech director and his team of techies not only designed how and where those pieces were placed, but built entirely new set pieces for the show in additon to the rental pieces. Some of the rental pieces were even recontructed to work with MLP's stage.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- it really saddens me to read these kinds of things about people that have worked their tails off and just deserve a little recognition. I dont understand why people in the Shreveport/Bossier theatre community cant just go to work everyday and do what makes them happy and fulfilled. I think there is plenty of room for numerous theatres. Besides what else is there to do in this town? A little theatregoing never killed anyone. Im just sorry that someone told me about this site. I hate negativity and the fact that people sit around and type rude things about other people is quite sad. Cant we all just get along?

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Community theatre, children's theatre... it's all the same. I'm sorry that some companies choose not to use/hire grown men/women to play the parts of teenagers/young adults.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

huh?

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allow me to lay out why the SB Awards are nice, but nothing over which to wring your hands! The judges on the SB Panel were as follows: Erin Berry - her husband is Allen Berry, well known in the theater community for good set design. Other than that, she has never been onstage herself and really wasn't involved in theater before she met Allen. Anita Crafts - never been onstage or backstage. She is a writer for SB Magazine and works at Centenary College. Jill Slack - she has a degree in film, which is an entirely different animal than live performance, never worked on a show. Deb Cockrill - a sweetheart of a lady and owner of Enchanted Garden, but - again - has never been onstage although she goes to see everything. Last but not least, the only "actor" in the group is a man Andy Burns. His wife, Jennifer Flowers, is also a writer with SB and he has done maybe ONE play that I know of, a couple of years ago at Eastbank. So you see, these awards are not based on any kind of great knowledge of theater, onstage or off. They are very simply the opinions of some nice people who comitted to seeing everything in the season. They are educated, but the basis for their decisions are quite different from those of us who have spent a great many years perfecting our crafts. In a perfect world, there would be a judge on the panel who knew about tech, one who knew about acting, one who knew about directing, lighting, music, etc. BUT - HOW are we going to find people like that who aren't INVOLVED in the theater season?? That is the very reason that must not give these awards more weight than they carry. For those that won - good for you. You touched the lives of many and that is what theater is about. For those of you that didn't or maybe didn't even get deserved nominations it means NOTHING. There were some brilliant performances last year that didn't even get a nod - namely John Bogan playing Banquo - a VERY difficult role in a very difficult genre and he brought humor, pathos and understanding in a way that few can manage with Shakespearean dialogue. Be proud of your work and don't hang your hopes around an award that has such dubious merit.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make some good points about the weight to be given the awards, whether nominated, selected or not. But outing the judges and marginalizing them is far less interesting and further off the point.
Assuming you really know who they are, you must know what criteria they employ and the selection process. Share that with others. And if you know how SB picks the other best-of, clue us in there, too. That ought to put it all in even greater perspective.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Outing the judges"?? I hate to break it to you but many people know who the judges are. The theaters all know who they are and no-one ever said it was a secret. I didn't see the above attempt as marginalizing anyone, but trying to keep the theater community from getting all worked up about nothing.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off I have too say that i disagree with 99% of your opinion's posted.I do agree though with the blogger that stated that children's and community company's are the same.And yes i also agree with why should some company's get credit for hiring actors just beacause they have a name in the local theatre community. Why not give new and fresh talent a try? You never know what's out there. I only say that becauase it seems that you were trying to crush the talent that is new to our commnity and giving the directors/thespians that have been around forever and can now be classified as old blue-hair's much more cushioning than deserved. I realize that most actors that have earned their name in this city do deserve it but come on step out of the box and figure out that we have a wonderful new generation of talent on our hands.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do indeed have talent in this city and I assure you, NO-ONE in the theater community wants to crush that. In fact we all lament about how the available talent pool seems to dwindle each year. Ask any director in town and they will tell you that the reason they pick shows they know they can cast with veterans they can count on, is because when they hold open auditions no-one shows up. The audition notices out - they are posted in the paper, via newsletter, direct mail, etc and still - very few people show up. They are forced to sit down with previous cast lists and call people they already know to offer them roles. If you want to see fresh faces, encourage everyone you know to get involved and give theater a try. Make certain they realize, though, that they will have to prove to the directors that they can be relied upon to bring not only their talent to the theater, but their professionlism and their sense of committment. Those are severly lacking in the new talent of today.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above blogger who commented on "outting the judges," as another poster said, the identity of the judges is not a secret. Apart from knowing their identities I don't know what criteria they used in making those decisions, or the criteria SB uses for their other awards decisions. I do think that it is important that SB makes some attempt at training the judges they do get.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who said that they did not agree with 99% of the opinions on this blog...

I'm not trying to stir anything up, but I sincerely ask why.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the sentiment and the gramatical errors I'm guessing that person is very young and very inexperienced in theater. Young people are always welcomed and appreciated in theater, but many feel a sense of entitlement for major roles that they are neither ready for, nor have earned. Good actors will always get cast if they have the chops to carry the role, no matter how "new" they are. If you are auditioning and not getting cast, ask the director why and then make an attempt to learn and grow, but don't feel bitter about community actors who get cast because they are versatile and talented.

Also I must take exception to the "blue-haired" remark. I am nowhere near AARP, but let me assure you that without the "blue-hairs" there would be NO theater. Young people would much rather see a movie than a live performance so the audiences are getting smaller and smaller. Don't believe me? Look around you the next time you go see a play. The people who are supporting our passion ARE the blue-hairs. In terms of older actors, put together a list of plays that employ primarily people in their teens and twenties. I assure you, you will have a very short list.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't we appreciate what audiences we do have in Shreveport no matter what age?

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im not sure that the "young" comment was directed negatively towards the older established actors in our community. I think what was said was that it isnt fair to seperate the younger actors. They are just as worthy as anyone else. They follow in the footsteps of older actors. I also think that maybe what they meant was that we see a lot of the same actors/actresses in this community playing different roles with the same "character". (Never a stretch) You can't cast the role of a 20 year old with a 40 something.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marginal - adj - close to the lower limit of qualification,acceptability, or function (a semiliterate person of ~ ability)

marginalize - verb - make marginal, characterize as marginal, minimize

"very simply the opinions of some nice people ..." Maybe I missed it, but it sure read like they didn't know anything and have no qualifications except the ability to sit through all the shows.

Did the magazine publish the list of judges for this year before or after the "season"? Has the magazine amplified the "how we do it" of the awards or printed a-n-y criteria? Did the blogger who listed the judges and did the mini-bios shed any light on the merits of the awards?

If the answer is not "NO" to any of the above, please post the web page or SB volume, so I can read all about it.

I recognize that mollification may have been part of the motivation of the writer. Fine. We of the theatre need some of that now and then.

Bottom line: Every post in this pointedly anonymous forum is in itself, the subject of review. Don't you love the free exchange of emotions and ideas?

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. I agree with the "young" comment. I feel the same that it is not fair to seperate our young adult and adult actors. We can't forget that ours actors who are not children and not adults yet work just as hard as the "senior" actors and even though they have been doing it for a longer period of time we have to take in to consideration that no matter what age the same amount of time and effort is put in.(most of the time.)Did you hear that? I said most not all.

P.S. this is not meant to be negative so hopefully you are not taking it that way!

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Addressing the "marginalizing" post above. I agree with you...this is an excellent place to exchange ideas, which is the attitude with which I write - not to blame but to raise some legitimate concerns over the SB process as a whole. Perhaps you are one of the judges or know one, causing you to get your feathers a bit ruffled over my post. Allow me to quote myself exactly:

"...these awards are not based on any kind of great knowledge of theater, onstage or off. They are very simply the opinions of some nice people who comitted to seeing everything in the season. THEY ARE EDUCATED, but the basis for their decisions are quite different from those of us who have spent a great many years perfecting our crafts."

You used the term marginal - not me.

Let me begin by saying that I am actually an SB Award WINNER. You are actually making my point with your questions. From my memory the answer is NO, SB has never given readers their criteria or method for selecting nominees or winners, or for that matter, choosing judges. From my limited knowledge there is no training system or even pre-requisite for choosing the judges; if there is, someone needs to tell us. Without that information, they are little more then "Peoples' Choice" awards. I think SB should give an accounting of the judges, their backgrounds and the methods they use to determine the "winners." I don't want to get into the whole " The Times is slanted" debate but, When The Times was doing it, they used to actually announce the judges for the upcoming season. SB is doing a wonderful thing for the theater community by continuing the awards, despite what I would imagine is very little monetary gain for themselves...but when obviously brilliant performances are overlooked and costume companies win awards, one HAS to wonder about their real value.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isnt there a new topic to discuss? Didnt the awards come out a couple of weeks ago? Are people losing sleep over this? It seems like it

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE a new topic!

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this particular subject is the heading on the front page of the blog. The person responsible for the blog should make at least an attempt to come up with a weekly topic AND delete some of the much older posts or all of this info is going to get really old and you get alot of random comments mixed in where they don't really belong. Comeon blogger - if you're going to do this, do it right.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why delete the much older posts? I do think they should be archived, but not deleted.

10:31 AM  

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