Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Q & A

Just a quick thanks to all of the people who have been so positive in their response to the announcement of the Critics Circle Awards. On behalf of the other RTCC members, I can say the support is appreciated. At least one commenter zeroed in on the word “celebrate” and that is indeed what we hope these awards will be about: celebrating the hard work done by everyone in the community (whether nominated or not) and gathering to celebrate the awesomeness of some of the theater that was created in this past year. I hope and expect Oct. 19th to be a pretty fabulous party!

Here are some quick responses to a few of the questions / concerns that have been posed:

“What constitutes the "Richmond area" -- it appears that Petersburg is included -- what about Fredericksburg?”

For this, we used membership in the Richmond Alliance of Professional Theatres as a guide. Members include Sycamore Rouge in Petersburg, Swift Creek Mill in Colonial Heights and Barksdale at Hanover Tavern in Hanover.

“Is there some sort of commitment from the critics association that a majority of members will see [a show that falls into the universe of consideration]?”

One of the most significant challenges we found as we approached the process of starting these awards was the fact that none of us had seen all of the productions that could be considered for recognition. However, as we have researched other critics associations, we have found that this is a common problem (and, apparently, a problem for major awards shows like the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, etc.) and we are looking to them for guidance on how to deal with it. Some form of scoring system that takes into account the number of shows an individual critic has seen is often employed. Some associations spell out their elaborate systems, some state the processes more vaguely, for instance, that winners are arrived at "by consensus.”

Obviously, as this is our first year, we will have to figure out what works best for us. It is unlikely that a majority of critics (all of us who are freelance writers) will ever see all or even most of the shows that open in the Richmond-area, mostly because of the vigor of the local scene. This year’s “universe of consideration” included 14 musicals, 40 plays and 8 productions we have categorized as interactive. That’s at least 62 productions to see in a year – seeing all of them would be a Herculean effort even for a full-time critic. However, I know that the establishment of these awards has raised my commitment to see more shows and, while I can’t speak for any other critic, I believe it has had the same effect on my compatriots.

“I beg of all of you not to fall into the trap of last seen, first awarded.”

I understand this concern but am happy to see that one of the most nominated productions this year is “Urinetown,” which opened almost a year ago. Going forward, I believe all of us critics will be watching shows with an eye toward which performances and productions are worthy of consideration at the end of the theater year.

“What about a special award for Outstanding Achievement by a Youth Actor?”

This is a good idea. We’ll keep it in mind for next year.

“With any awards some will feel there are omissions…” “I didn't see any Chamberlayne nominations.”

One of the most tortuous aspects of coming up with nominations for these awards was knocking productions or performances off the list. In some of the categories, as many as nine different nominees were offered for consideration. Productions and performances from all companies were considered but the final nominees reflect our determination of the best of the best. As with any situation of this kind – whether it be in sports or academics or the arts – recognizing some nominees as exceptional (in our collective opinion) is not meant to demean any other performance or production as unworthy or substandard.

More info to come!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the further clarifications. And I appreciate that nobody could see ALL the shows up for consideration each year. But in order to say that you are awarding the "best of the best" rather than the "best of what we saw" -- I would think that even a "consensus" would require that some substantial percentage of the organization had actually seen each of the shows. Perhaps for the coming year, there could be communication on the committee to ensure that each show has an adequate number of the committee attending.

Also, wondered if your "universe" language could use some tweaking. What constitutes a "published season" -- does posting on the internet an addition to a season count? How about a last minute switch because the rights to the scheduled show were pulled? What about a first rate production from an upstart company without a regular season? It would seem that none of these could be considered -- but maybe they should be?

And "locally produced, professional theater" would seem to include, for example, Swift Creek's children's series, Murder Mystery shows, ComedySportz shows, the Patrick Henry reenactment, etc. It seems clear at least certain of these weren't considered, because they were in a separate "other" category.

Just food for thought, I guess.

Geez. Can you tell I'm a lawyer? Sheesh.

Amy Berlin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking on the questions and answering forthrightly. As this is a voluntary endeavor, you could have just said "that's the way it is." That you didn't says a lot.

Anonymous said...

I thought Comedy Sports performers didn't get paid.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

These are great!

I don't know if there are enough, but maybe it at least merits consideration to have a Special Events category (Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, Bea Arthur Between Friends, Dame Edna, etc. etc. or other...).