Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Does It Feel to be a Winner of the NYIT Awards?

The nominees for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards sit nervously in the dark at the New World Stages waiting for their category to be announced. Then, from the stage comes the boom of "and the winner is....".

For the 2nd year, wanted to get the instant reaction at that moment from the winners. We asked three questions: (1)What was the absolute first thought you had when you heard them call your name? (2)Who was the first person you called/emailed to tell that you won? (3)What does this award signify or mean to you personally? Here are the answers in the order we received them. Enjoy!

JILLIAN ZEMEN - Outstanding Stage Manager
Ragtime, Astoria Performing Arts Center

First thought: Oh my God, I hope I don’t throw up when I give my speech. I’m not one for public speaking and I just wanted to get in and get out as gracefully as possible and not forget to thank anyone who was a part of the production.

First called: My parents/sister/family.

Award means: It’s the first award to go to someone in my field, so it’s such an incredible honor to be the inaugural recipient. It’s validation, it shows that my hard work is paying off and people do notice. It pushes me to keep working just as hard to go further and further in the future.

SARAH LOWE - Outstanding Original Music
The Apple Sisters

First thought: Well... I am currently living in Vegas doing the show Jersey Boys... so I didn't hear them call it, but Kimmy was there and she called me & Rebekka and we screamed and gave each other a big hug! We couldn't believe it! The best part is that Rebekka was in town to celebrate my recent engagement!! I am having the best week EVER!

First called: I got the call right as I was heading into the theater... so I called my Dad, my Mom, then told the whole cast!! then, of course I posted it as my facebook status.

Award means: We started as a little comedy show... we had no idea- at least I had no idea- what would happen. We have been so lucky to have found each other. To me, this just means we're gonna keep working... more songs! more shows!! More, more, more!!!

NAT CASSIDY - Outstanding Original Full Length Script
The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots

First thought: “Oh, shit, try not to curse too much.”

First called: Throughout the show, I kept getting text messages (phone on silent, don’t worry) from people who were, somehow, finding out before I could tell them. So, I guess, technically, the first person I myself told was my mailing list, which is filled with wonderful, beautiful people who haven’t yet told me to stop e-mailing them fart jokes.

Award means: I’m hugely honored, as I’m still relatively new to playwriting. I wrote a lot of short stories (and a few abortive novels) when I was younger, and a ton of sketch comedy throughout my life, but I’ve really spent the majority of my time focusing on acting—constructing full-length playscripts is still kind of a brave new world to me. I was so incredibly excited to even be included in the list of nominees (particularly alongside Mac Roger’s Universal Robots, which was so personally inspiring to me), and it really confirmed for me there will always be an audience for new, intelligent, different, occasionally wacky, but always bold theatre.

MICHAEL P. KRAMER - Outstanding Set Design
Ragtime, Astoria Performing Arts Center

First thought: Holy shit! Did I really hear my name? Sounded like my name, I should make my way to the stage just in case.

First called: I didn’t have cell service in the theatre, when I was done with the press photos, interviews etc. I made my way outside and sent a text to family and friends.

Award means: I am just happy to be recognized and be part of this community. It is an honor to be one of the nominees, and I was lucky enough that the judges and the public voted for me. I have been nominated in the past, but I am really proud to have won for this specific production. It was a very special production for APAC. I think it touched a lot of people. This is the type of show you always hope you are involved with, the type of show you are always trying to create, but somehow eludes your best efforts. I am proud and extremely thankful.

THE GALLERY PLAYERS - Outstanding Production of a Musical
Like You Like It - Heather Siobhan Curran, artistic director

First thought: Oh, my God! 3 times in a row!

First called: My husband

Award means: That The Gallery Players should continue to program new musical theater work as part of their regular season. It also validated my choices as Artistic Director and producer.

NICO VREELAND - Outstanding Original Short Script
The Interview, Elephants on Parade 2009

First thought: A combination of “Is this really happening?” and “Don’t trip on the stairs.” It gets a little hazy after that.

First called: The director of my show was busy texting people while I was backstage, so by the time I turned my phone on, my sister and my mother were already calling me. When I got home, I emailed my girlfriend, who’s in Africa. I haven’t heard back yet.

Award means: As an aspiring artist, it’s great to know that you’re not shouting into a void. It’s a thrill for me that somebody’s watching, and a real honor that they like what they see.

THE BRICK THEATER - Caffe Cino Fellowship Award
Michael Gardner, co-founder

First thought: The Caffe Cino Fellowship Award is actually determined and announced many weeks before the awards event. So it wasn’t any sort of surprise. But the announcement of our name marked the pinnacle of a month’s worth of nervousness over how to address 500 of my peers.

First called: The first person we notified was EVERYONE WE KNEW ON FACEBOOK.

Award means: Caffe Cino was before my time. Which makes it all the more meaningful for me, personally. I studied and devoured literature about 1960s Off-Off theater in undergrad. It was a period of intense creativity and fearlessness that I try to emulate as an artist and venue director on my better days. To be honored in the name of the institution which is credited with launching Off-Off Broadway as we know it is humbling, to say the least. We at The Brick like to think of ourselves as artists and community-builders in equal measure. And to be recognized as such by The New York Innovative Theatre Awards was insanely gratifying.

NEW YORK NEO-FUTURISTS - Outstanding Ensemble
(Not) Just a Day Like Any Other, Christopher Borg

First thought: Because I’m on the staff, when I heard them announce the recipient, there was a flash moment where I thought “am I in trouble?” then “there was a mistake!” – but after the initial flash of confusion I was overcome with such a feeling of elation and gratitude. It was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced, frankly.

First called: My sister, Meg! I texted her as soon as I got to my phone. And then I twittered it, of course!

Award means: It is especially meaningful to have received THIS particular award (Ensemble) for THIS particular production! The Neos always work as an ensemble, so we value this recognition above all others. But “(Not) Just a Day…” is by FAR the most ensemble-driven piece of theatre I have ever worked on. It was intensely personal and vulnerable to create an autobiographical piece, but the high-level of support and artistic guidance from the rest of my ensemble (Eevin, Kevin and Jeffrey) enabled me to open up and tell my part of the story honestly and openly. The show was one of the most gratifying theatrical experiences of my career and receiving the IT Award made me more proud and honored to be a part of my ensemble and my community in general. I couldn’t be happier. It couldn’t happen to a better group.

NEW YORK NEO-FUTURISTS - Outstanding Ensemble
(Not) Just a Day Like Any Other, Eevin Hartsough

First thought: Well, I was wishing they’d say the show’s name in my head and at the same time bracing myself to hear something else. So I was saying it over and over in my head “(Not) Just A Day . . . (Not) Just A Day . . .” and then that’s what Charles Bush said and what surprised me was the lack of jolt – the lack of dissonance – that what I was saying in my head was what the presenter said. Then I thought “hurry up! We only have a minute!” so I moved it . . .

First called: Exiting New World Stages I updated my facebook status which, in effect, let a lot of people know. My husband was with me so I didn’t need to tell him. I called my mom first thing in the morning.

Award means: (Not) Just A Day . . . was a complete labor of love for me. The New York Neo-Futurists had decided to produce one “Prime time” (as opposed to our usual late night) show in addition to our weekly Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. There was a rigorous proposal process within the company and my journey began when the company chose my show concept to go forward. From that moment on, I felt a strong sense of obligation to the New York Neos – not to let them down. My first sigh of relief was when audiences responded so well to the play; my second was when we managed to pack our little house up at the Red Room and I didn’t loose the company any money. It was a huge acknowledgement to have been even nominated for the award – this was the first piece I’d ever done before as the Captain of the ship, so to speak. To win feels to me like something to be personally very proud of and it feels like something great!

SUZI TAKAHASHI - Outstanding Director

First thought: For the last few days my boyfriend had been telling me that I was going to win. Of course, I did not believe him, as I usually am not the sort of person who wins things… So, my first thought was, “I can’t believe he is right!” Then, I thought that if I kissed him, I would smear my lipstick. Then, I hoped I would not forget to thank my parents; unfortunately, I did forget. Thank you Mom and Dad!

First called: The first person I called was artistic director of BVT, Karin Bowersock. She is the person who insisted that I start directing, and subsequently has given me many of my first opportunities as a director. One day this past summer, she told me that she had a dream in which I won a big award and did not thank her. Apparently, in this dream my omission caused us to have a big fight. Therefore, I was sure that she was the first person I thanked both publicly and privately.

Award means:Winning the IT Award for directing came at a significant moment for me personally. I began directing later in my “career,” and starting over at the beginning has at times been disheartening. A few days ago, I was having a serious conversation with myself about whether I had started too late to ever be able to make a career of it. I asked myself, “When is the moment that a person knows it is time to alter dreams for the sake of pragmatism?” Being acknowledged at the IT awards reminded me that the best art comes out of love for the craft, and in that type of love there is no easy pathway; no pragmatics to fall back upon. To be honored by my peers, who all struggle, create, and dream in the same ways, is a touching reminder that though the audience may be small, there are people out their watching who care about innovative work and believe in me.

KIMMY GATEWOOD - Outstanding Original Music
The Apple Sisters

First thought: Holy crap! (then) Ahhhhhh!

First called: My co-winners: My “sisters", Rebekka Johnson & Sarah Lowe, and the boys, Jeff Solomon & Andy Hertz, who are all on the west coast!

Award means: This award was so unexpected. When Rebekka, Sarah & I formed the Apple Sisters, it was out of pure joy and love of the music and sensibility of the 40s. So to be recognized by our peers means so much more. Music and lyrics are the ultimate expression of an emotional moment. The Apple Sisters are the ultimate expression of flying food products and pratt falls. I am so thrilled our tunes moved people, even with pudding smeared on our faces. Thank you NYIT Awards (in 3 part harmony).

NEW YORK NEO-FUTURISTS - Outstanding Ensemble
(Not) Just a Day Like Any Other, Jeffrey Cranor

First thought: Sadly, I couldn’t be at the ceremony, because I was in tech for a new show, but I got a text message from the NY Neo-Futurists who were in attendance. In fact, I got about 6 text messages. But the very first one was from my mother-in-law in Houston. So my first thought was “HTF did she know I won??!” (She was watching the webcast.)

First called: I told my wife, who was with me at tech rehearsal.

Award means: I’ve never received a theater award before. It’s great! It really is. And it’s not just the pride but the sense of recognition & belonging within this amazing community of New York artists. That’s the most exciting thing.

ELYSE MIRTO - Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role
Any Day Now

First thought: First thought when my name was called was that it was an echo. My name was said last when they read the nominees. Next thought "Sh*%! I have nothing prepared to say because I thought Jan Maxwell would win.

First called: Got outside the theatre on the street, called my mom Karen in Las Vegas and we both squealed like little piggys as my date watched and laughed.

Award means: I took a big chance moving to NYC 18 months ago. Leaving agents, a relationship and a life behind because I felt stagnant in LA. I had $60 left over after my headshots last year. I started waitressing and pounding the pavement. This award means more than I can write here but it is validation that my instincts to return to theatre and start over in the Big Apple were right and now Don Buchwald&assoc has signed me for 3 years so I'm staying!

1 comment:

Jenna said...

The Neo-Futurists Kanye'd their own acceptance speech. That was genius.