Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boston Theatre - IRNE Awards

The IRNE awards are handed out every year by the Independent Reviewers of New England.

The celebration was last night at the BCA Cyclorama.

Stagesource has the complete list of winners

Small Company

Large Company

Some highlights:

Best New Play Large Company: Brendan by Ronan Noone

Best New Play Small Company: Surviving the Nian by Melissa Li and Abe Rybeck

The New Rep's Streetcar and the Lyric's Man of LaMancha were big winners also!

Congrats to all.

Scanning over the nominees and the winners, I think it may be time for the IRNE's to think about designating a mid-sized division. Or a fringe division.

As the Lyric, New Rep and Theatre Offensive become more and more developed every year, it starts to seem more and more strange that smaller companies like West End and/or Whistler in the Dark or Way or Zeitgeist are competing with them in the same categories.

Of course, I understand that there will always be upsets, and the IRNE judges are not at all opposed to awarding a performance at the Piano Factory over one at the Arsenal Center Mainstage. And, I guess the idea is to avoid marginalizing smaller theatre. Let them compete, right?!

However, I also completely understand why New Rep and the Lyric shouldn't be made to compete with Broadway in Boston or the massive resources of the Huntington and the ART.


Todd Williams said...

Hi Art,

Can I play devil's advocate?

Maybe there are TOO MANY categories - resulting in a pleasant mutual admiration society with lots of kudos to go around but not much in the way of critical value. It's fun, but how meaningful is it? Does the size of a budget necessarily = great theatre?


Art said...

Hey Todd,

Not only are you the Devil's Advocate, but you are entirely correct! :)

And that's why I am torn as well. As I said, I like the idea of everybody competing together.

I hope you realize that I am very much about the idea that size of budget doesn't equal great theatre.

Now my Devil's Advocation is this:

I can imagine, and maybe I am jumping to conclusions, that the Huntington and the ART would eventually start to take the awards less seriously if say, year after year, the ensembles of Present Laughter at the Huntington, lost out to the Longwood Players' ensemble for The Importance of Being Earnest. Or if say, year after year, the Alexander Dodge went home trophyless while Devanaugh's (sic) was the winner of best set design.

(My evidence is that the ART sent a letter to the IRNE committee a few years ago, basically complaining that they weren't winning enough awards.)

But, Todd, you have the weight of the truth on your side, (or maybe it could be that too few or too many divisions spoil the soup.)

But I'll just say that we also can't pretend that all of these companies operate on the same playing field.

Awards are kind of weird anyway, like the top ten lists at the end of the year. But if you are going to have them, I guess it is necessary to talk about them.

Thomas Garvey said...

For what it's worth, the IRNE critics are far more likely to nominate small theatre companies, and even "community" theatre companies, for awards than the Norton are - indeed, this is almost a kind of a mission for some IRNE critics. Me, I favor a single award for "Best Theatre Thing of the Year" - I mean really, why segregate by gender, or role, price point, or any other criterion? (Think of how mercifully short the ceremony would be!) Failing that, I'd recommend a "Cost/Benefit Award" to the best piece of theatre for the least money.