Thursday, August 22, 2013

They suck except when they don’t

I’ve already expounded in kind of a statistical way about this year’s RTCC nominees at TVJerry’s Sifter site. Of course, every year the nominees bring up all sorts of very non-statistical, sometimes very emotional feelings. A lot of them are positive: over the years, I’ve received a number of amazing and heartfelt expressions of appreciation from people seemingly overwhelmed at having their talents recognized in such a public way.

But, as you might expect, I’ve received many more expressions of dismay, anger, frustration or exasperation that a specific production or a specific performance was not listed among the nominations. First of all, while I am often the recipient of sentiments both pro and con, I am only one cog in the wheel that is the RTCC. So while I try to respond as best as I can to what people send, I don’t respond to “Why do YOU hate X company or Y actor?” questions/accusations because there are a whole crew of other people working with me to get this list together. And if you think there is some conspiracy among all of the RTCC members to hype something or diminish something else, you’re dabbling in crazy talk.

Second of all, I’m sorry we can’t/don’t recognize everything of merit in a season. But that’s not what we do. We get together and, as best as we can, develop something resembling consensus about what really dazzled us on stage this past season, sometimes from a very technical standpoint, sometimes from a strictly emotional point of view. Every year, I end up disappointed that certain individuals whose work I particularly enjoyed did not end up on the list. I think everyone in the circle feels that way. So those of you who feel certain that you or one of your friends should have been nominated, rest assured that at least one other person within the critical community probably felt the same way, too.

I have been very happy to see several well-balanced Facebook posts that say variations of “Congrats to the nominees! And to those who weren’t nominated, come out and celebrate with us anyway, because we’re a pretty kick-ass community.” That is certainly the spirit behind the awards: to celebrate the quality of Richmond-area theater as a whole, not just to pick favorites. And, by the way, to raise a little bit of money to help folks in the community who vitally need assistance.

Finally, there was a question of a more functional nature posted on TVJerry’s site. I answered it there but I’ll do so again here just so you can debate and decry it here if you want to. The question was asked why we continue (in our “amateurish” way) to lump designers of musicals and plays together when clearly those who work on musicals are going to win “90%” of the time.

Here are the specifics: in 2008, we only included three design categories, adding sound in 2009. Below is a list of non-musical productions that won for their design elements. It’s never been a 90% rate for musicals and last year 75% of the design winners were from non-musical productions.

2008: As you like it (costumes) — 1/3
2009: Eurydice (Sound) — 1/4
2010: A servant of two masters (costumes), is he dead? (set) — 2/4
2011: Legacy of Light (lighting, costumes) — 2/4
2012: The 39 Steps (lighting), August: Osage County (set), It’s a Wonderful Life (sound) — 3/4

Also, at least 50 % of the recipients of design awards this year will be from non-musicals because 100% of the nominees for set and sound are from non-musicals. So there’s that too.

Having said that, we have given serious consideration to splitting the design categories for musical and non-musical. However, doing so adds 4 more categories of awards to give out and our focus this year was bringing the run-time of the ceremony to a manageable level. If we can get our running time under control this year, I expect the topic of splitting design consideration will be discussed again and very well may be the procedure we take next year.

Fire away if you have more questions, concerns, declarations of acclaim, or cries of outrage. Reserve your tickets now and let’s keep building the anticipation for the awards ceremony on October 20th.

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