Monday, August 15, 2011

And the nominees are…

This year, the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle has 8 members, our most ever. We had more complete coverage of this past season than any other so far. I can say this with a good deal of confidence because there has been frequent communication between Circle members where we have encouraged each other to see certain productions and take note of specific performances. Our awareness of the process we will be going through at summer’s end is now fairly persistent throughout the season.

Even so – and as I’ve said every year – our process is not perfect and we freely acknowledge that. However, we are diligent in our efforts and we do not take any of this lightly. I would challenge any other group of 8 individuals with widely different perspectives to come together with as much conscientious attention to their work as the members of this Circle.

There are many interesting nominations this year and, as always, a few situations that might have people scratching their heads at least or crying out in outrage at most. Let me state vehemently that it is not a list that denigrates anybody via exclusion. There were several categories where we started out with more than a dozen possibilities, each of which was as worthy of consideration as the final selections.

In my opinion, it was a very good season, one where Richmond theater audiences were the real winners. As a result, there are many categories where it is a true toss-up in terms of who ultimately will receive the award.

So enough preamble…The complete list of nominations is now posted on the RTCC website. Let the fun begin!

By the way, tickets to the event will be available for $15 by calling the Theatre IV box office (282-2620) starting at 10am today (Monday). If you are a nominee and you would like to sit in the area of the house set aside for nominees, please let the box office personnel know. (And a big fat thank you to the Theatre IV box office for its invaluable assistance.)

And be sure to check back here for details about the event as we get closer to the big date (Sunday, October 16th, 7pm – mark those calendars!)


Jennifer Frank said...

Congratulations to all the nominees and to the RTCC for making this wonderful event happen. Although I am going to mention actors by name in the following, please understand I appreciate all the work and believe all the nominations are well deserved and sincerely deliberated by the critics.

However, I have a few questions/comments.

One - Dave - do you have any statistics for how many shows you personally have seen or did not see relative to how many nominations or wins they have had? I know you can't see everything, and I'm not being a hound about it, but some stats might clarify how much influence you yourself have over these proceedings. I don't know either way, I'm just curious, and I think it's a fair question, over the four years of the event.

Two - Raintree, Reider, and Solomon were all very good in King Lear. Congratulations to well deserved nominations. However - if there is that much discussion in the room - does it not handicap one of these fine actors from actually winning the award? And although it speaks to the strength in the RTCC's hive mind of their strong positive opinion of "King Lear" - does it not leave out different styles, equally well performed?

I also sincerely congratulate Mr. Brown and Ms. Steinberg for their "Last Days" nominations in supporting roles, but wonder about their relatively small percentage of stage time in an ensemble piece with other stand out performances with similar percentages of stage time.

Who do I think was left out of the supporting actor categories? Ms. Wepplo and Mr. Clevenger for "A Thousand Clowns" and Ms. Arthur for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

Again, thanks for organizing the event, RTCC, and congratulations to all the nominees. And gosh I'm sorry if I spelled any names wrong.

Susie said...

Congratulations to all! It was indeed a wonderful season for Richmond theater!

Dave T said...

I’ll try to answer your queries, though I don’t think there are clear answers to all of them.

1. I’m happy to talk about what shows I saw or didn’t see but I don’t think this correlates to influence. Of the shows that had nominations, I saw most of them. However, I only made a point to see some shows because other critics said I really should. “King Lear,” “Jitney,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” were all shows that I was not necessarily going to have a chance to see but I made a point to do so because of recommendations from others. So the prominence of these shows on the nomination list actually points to the influence of others, not to mine.

As I think I mentioned in this space a while back, I saw 33 mainstage professional shows produced by Richmond-area companies last season. According to my count, there were 53 productions in total this past season, meaning I saw a bit more than 3/5ths of them. I honestly don’t know if any other critic in town keeps these kinds of stats on themselves. I did not see “The Winter’s Tale,” “Wait Until Dark,” or “Oleanna,” all of which had nominations. I will also say that all the influence I have, such as it is, couldn’t get a nomination for Nick Aliff who I thought was phenomenal in “Love Kills.”

2. The prominence of “Lear’s” performers in the supporting actor – play category may seem to point to preference for a certain style. I don’t think there is actually such a preference among the Circle members as a whole. Each of us make individual choices about what performances made the biggest impression or showed the greatest skill. With “Lear,” I believe there were so many good performances that different critics were impressed by different actors but all of us were impressed by someone. So someone from “Lear” was on each of our final lists. I can tell you that there were similar situations regarding “Jitney” and “Last Days.” Several performances from each of those shows were in consideration for the final list.

3. As for the stage time question, that’s always a tough one, something the Oscars always have to deal with as well. You may remember the infamous Judi Dench controversy, winning best supporting for less than 8 minutes of screen time. However, even more telling I think is Anthony Hopkins’s win for Best Actor in “Silence of the Lambs.” He was on screen for just over 15 minutes. And yet, in my memory at least, he WAS that film. I think there is a similar situation with some of the RTCC Best Supporting performances this year. Stage time is not nearly as important as impact.

I hope that answers your questions to some extent, Ms. Frank. And I hope to see you and your lovely husband on the 16th!

Susie said...

Just for the record, I saw 45 of the 53 shows. The ones I missed were "Langston Is My Man," "The Bluest Eye," "Oleanna," "Bloody Murder," "The Odyssey," "Honk!," "The Little Red Hen," and Theatre IV's "The Velveteen Rabbit".

Beyond that, I don't think that any of us RTCC members believes that our awards process is a perfect one, and we're always trying to improve it, so suggestions are welcome--friend me on Facebook, if you like, or email me at if you want to share comments with me.

philcrosby said...

Another side note: of the 10 plays and musicals nominated as the Best, six were entries in the Acts of Faith festival. Interesting how that event is inspiring us -- and our audiences -- on a continual basis.

Anonymous said...

Why was the category of Best Locally Produced/Developed Work left off this year? Several really great locally grown works popped up this year which deserve recognition. Seems silly to only have an award for one year just to recognize Full Plate Collection and not bring it back the next year.

Andrew Hamm said...


I noticed the same thing. It's time to start thinking bigger with Acts of Faith. There's no reason it couldn't be Richmond's equivalent of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or Piccolo Spoleto.

Dave T said...

Anonymous: a couple of months back when we began this process, I believe we determined there weren't enough new and notable locally developed shows to have a whole category. Did we miss some? I'd be curious which productions you are referring to.

Anonymous said...

I've looked at your website and I still have no idea what shows were eligible for awards (are paid actors required? is there a minimum run required? what are the dates of the season? is children's theatre included? are improvisational scripts (like murder mystery shows) included? are independent productions included? are revivals of previously considered shows included?). I'm thinking there are actual guidelines because you have mentioned "53 mainstage professional shows by Richmond-area companies," but I'm not entirely sure which shows are included. Would you consider posting the 53 considered shows?

I would also love to see a list of the "eligible" shows that fewer than half the critics saw because either these shows were technically eligible but didn't stand much of a chance due in no part to their quality or (if such shows actually garner nominations) the nominations are more a result of a passionate few than a consensus. It would also be interesting to see if these lightly attended shows are randomly spread throughout the various theatre companies or concentrated on a few.

Thank you, Susan and Dave, for being upfront about the shows you did not see, and therefore could not champion, regardless of how wonderful they were.

And thank you to the RTCC for putting together this event and for striving to constantly improve it. It's always a lovely party!

Anonymous said...

It's in every industry:

Susie said...

I can answer some of those questions: paid actors are required; the season runs September through August; improvisational shows are excluded; revivals are included; independent productions are included when we know about them. I'll leave it to Dave to post the list of eligible shows if he wishes (it's not a secret). A lightly attended show may have a tougher road to nomination, but we do communicate within the group to let one another know when a noteworthy show is happening, and we've improved our record each year in getting more critics to more shows, even when they are not reviewing.

Dave T said...

Thanks Susie for picking up the ball on this one; I've been out of town and then recovering from being out of town.

I will post a complete list of eligible shows next week in association with some details on the People's Choice award.

The only thing I'd add to Susie's answer is that all nominations are indeed the result of consensus. We meet, we vote, we discuss and then we come to consensus. Sometimes a nomination is spearheaded by a passionate critic or two but, as has been mentioned, we are getting better every year at being proactive. Those with a passionate opinion about a show communicate while the production is still running, giving everyone the opportunity to have an informed opinion.