Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not 20 Minutes Into...

... the Tony awards and I cannot help but grind my teeth once again. Mr. Harris is delightful, engaging one might say, in his piece about Broadway not being just for gays. And that the doors have been opened to heterosexuals is laudable on a number of counts, but as the list ran on it simply underlined the highly commodified nature and NYC-centrism of the Antoinette Perry Awards. After all, one has to keep those out-of-town relatives entertained.

This had me reaching for the April 2011 Issue of American Theatre Magazine and flipping for this article. The question as to whether or not there are too many awards shows for the theatre seems to be a strange one at first glance, yet the thrust of the article is clear: The Obies and the Tonys matter, the rest is chaff, according to Village Voice theatre critic Michael Feingold and article author Eliza Bent.

So what are those of us exiled to the provinces to do? Simply stand outside and refrain from lauding the best in our communities? The question in Ms. Bent's article, in terms of an award's worth, hinges upon the question of it helping a career or, possibly, functioning as a marketing tool. Forget the fact that such traditions and critical assessments are a big part of the glue from which artistic communities are made.

Which brings me back to the Tony Awards. I want to like the Tonys, really I do. They are, evidently, the pinnacle of achievement in my chosen field... and they look like a great deal of fun. But the "molotov cocktail" cited by award winner Ellen Barkin (Featured Actress- Normal Heart) never made it out of the great quadrangle on Manhattan, and those of us who aren't dedicated enough to join the tribe properly are left to watch. Scott Walters, of the C.R.A.D.L.E. and Theatre Ideas Blog makes an excellent point in regards to our system, and can be read here.

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