Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New York Innovative Theatre Awards

"There are two kinds of theatre in this country. Commercial theatre ... and theatre that matters. You make the theatre that matters."

That's what Edward Albee told the crowd at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards last night. I think everybody in the room felt as lifted up as I did by his inspirational remarks.

Mr. Albee presented the final award of the evening (Outstanding Production of a Play) to Jessica Burr and Matt Opatrny of blessed unrest for their play Burn, Crave, Hold: The James Wilde Project. I'm actually going to see Jessica and Matt this Sunday (they're recording a podcast with us about their upcoming show, Doruntine), and I mean to ask them what went through their minds as they were marching onto the stage to receive their award from a man who is, arguably, the most important living American playwright.

I know I was really excited when I had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Albee after the awards. It was just one more special moment in an evening that was really just one giant high point for me.

As you may know, NYTE and nytheatre.com received the Stewardship Award from NYIT last night, and Rochelle and I were absolutely bowled over by the tribute given to us by Kirk Wood Bromley, who presented us with the award. There was also a lovely video featuring comments by Michael Criscuolo, Trav S.D., John Clancy, Bryn Manion, and Saviana Stanescu. And we heard from folks in the indie theater community all night long about the ways NYTE has touched them, and we appreciate everything everybody had to say very much.

The three co-executive directors of NYITA -- Jason Bowcutt, Shay Gines, and Nick Micozzi -- should be very proud of the event they created for the off-off/indie theater community last night. It was a beautiful celebration; just what the people who create "theatre that matters" truly deserve.

In addition to Mr. Albee, a stellar array of presenters was on hand: Barrett Foa and Louis Zorich handed out the acting awards; Michael Berresse presented the award for Outstanding Production of a Musical; Olympia Dukakis gave Judith Malina the Artistic Achievement Award; Tina Howe made some lovely heartfelt remarks before she handed out the two playwriting awards; Anna Louizos (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), and Anne Militello (lighting) presented the design awards; Rob Ashford gave the choregraphy/movement award; John Bucchino presented the music award; and David Cote presented the award for Outstanding Performance Art Production. And some of the superstars of the indie theater world were presenters as well: in addition to Kirk Bromley, we saw Daniel Talbott and Isaac Byrne give out the directing trophy and Desiree Burch hand out the solo performance award. NYIT reps Akia and Leonard Jacobs made the presentation of the Caffe Cino Fellowship to Boomerang Theatre's Tim Errickson and Frank Kuzler.

I think the award for most memorable presenters nonetheless has to go to Michael Dahlen (of Blue Man Group) and Bill Irwin, who collaborated to give out the Outstanding Ensemble Award. Before they called the winners up to the stage, they got the entire audience to behave as "an ensemble" by throwing the frisbees in our gift bags up to the stage. A moment you wouldn't have seen at the Emmys or the Tonys.

Rochelle and I thank NYITA and everyone in the indie theater community for the Stewardship Award and hope we can live up to it.

Here's the complete list of recipients of the 2008 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, in the order they were announced. Congratulations to all!

ROB SHERIDAN, The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley (Actor in a Featured Role)
MEGAN BYRNE, No End of Blame (Actress in a Featured Role)
JUDITH MALINA (Artistic Achievement Award)
DAN BIANCHI, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Original Music)
QUI NGUYEN, Fight Girl Battle World (Choreography/Movement)
ANDREA CABAN, You Got Questions? I Got Answers! (Solo Performance)
ALIZA SHANE, The Three Sillies (Original Short Script)
BEKAH BRUNSTETTER, You May Go Now (Original Full Length Script)
THE NEW YORK THEATRE EXPERIENCE, INC. (Stewardship Award)
KEVIN HARDY, The Night of Nosferatu (Lighting Design)
SEAN BREAULT, Art of Memory (Set Design)
DAN BIANCHI, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Sound Design)
JESSICA WEGENER, Fight Girl Battle World (Costume Design)
CAMERON J. ORO, The Accidental Patriot (Actor in a Leading Role)
STEPHANIE BARTON-FARCAS, Elizabeth Rex (Actress in a Leading Role)
EDWARD ELEFTERION, The Night of Nosferatu (Director)
BOOMERANG THEATRE COMPANY (Caffe Cino Fellowship Award)
ELENA CHANG, NOSHIR DALAL, JON HOCHE, KELLEY RAE O'DONNELL, MELISSA PALADINO, MAUREEN SEBASTIAN, ANDREA MARIE SMITH, PACO TOLSON, TEMAR UNDERWOOD, Fight Girl Battle World (Ensemble)
Removable Parts (Performance Art Production)
Yank! A New Musical (Production of a Musical)
Burn, Crave, Hold: The James Wilde Project (Production of a Play)

1 comment:

Byrne said...

Had no idea I was a "superstar"...thanks Martin... just found this post--wish I had seen it earlier. Was good to see you the other day. Best. Isaac