Much hoopla was made over the 2016 TATE award ceremony this last June, and the powers that be have heard. On a hot summer Wednesday night, said powers gathered representatives from the local community to have a powwow. And to get to the point, the former TATE committee was "disbanded" and a new committee will be remade in its place. This committee will be comprised of members drawn from the local community, representatives from all the theaters actively participating in the TATE's, including Theatre North, who did not have a nominee this year, but has in past years. The spirit of the meeting was very much of a "fresh start", a time to let the past be the past and to look forward to the future. More importantly, it laid the groundwork for our community to start being a more cohesive unit, with the end goal of making Theatre a viable entertainment option in Tulsa. This is the goal of the Kaiser foundation and they are willing to take the steps necessary to do that. It was refreshing in my opinion. If successful, this new initiative can create a stronger coalition, and mend some burned bridges, and close some gaps in our community. But I, personally, believe that to be successful everybody should be able to have a voice. I would like for the community to share this post, and comment with their own opinions below (click on “Comments” if the box doesn’t automatically come up). Let’s address our concerns and move forward. We’ve made a beginning; now your constructive comments can be a guiding force for a foundation for the future. I will do my best to read and take note, and I'm sure others will do the same. Let us all build a bigger, better community together.
SL918’s suggestions for fixing the TATE’s, straight, no chaser.
First, the Distinguished Artist award: This needs to go away, at least for awhile. Way too much money and attention is being paid to the celebrity, and it makes honoring and/or rewarding the local theatre community an afterthought, a PostScript. It's disrespectful in the extreme to the very people the event is supposed to be celebrating. If we have to have a celebrity--and we don't, but I'm not paying for the event—let them host and give out the awards. Gary Busey handing an award to, oh, let's say Whit Hanna, would at least have the advantage of putting the focus where it belonged, on the Tulsa guy rather than the Hollywood guy. Though Barry Friedman is funnier than anybody they would bring in.
The awards structure: I’m not sure if the current structure shouldn’t be scrapped entirely, but I’m going with suggestions that make the least changes to what currently exists, i.e. all the money is tied to awards for the best shows. If that’s the case then: 1) The cash needs to be spread more evenly across the awards. The difference between 3rd and 1st is $7500. That may be chump change to the ballet, but it's huge for a community theatre, and that difference can come down to a coin flip as one judge decides, ‘yeah, I liked that one a little more.’ 2) More awards. The difference between 4th and 1st is 10K. Same argument. The easiest way to fix this is that the top five shows each receive the same amount. That would be better than what we have now. Best Comedy, Best Drama, and 2 runner ups in each category, would be even better. Runner ups are both ranked the same and receive the same cash, e.g. 6K for winner and 4K for each runner up.
Even if that’s how the money is given out, there should be more categories, maybe with no money involved but still giving away the funny little statuettes. Categories would at least include:
Judging: First of all, the criteria need an overhaul. Each of the above categories needs to be on there so those particular awards can be given out. After that, it depends, but if the award is going to be called Outstanding Production then it should be based on how outstanding the production is. It shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, just the opposite. Something like this. (I stole it off the internet).
PRODUCTION: Set design, costume design, 15
lighting design, make-up and overall stage management
DIRECTION: Interpretation of script, blocking 30
(i.e. the movement of characters on stage), tempo,
quality of ensemble playing ( i.e. how characters
interact with each other in pursuance of overall interpretation)
ACTING: Quality of characterization, 45
vocal skills, movement etc., ensemble playing.
INNOVATION: Effective, attentive and 10
new approach to drama
Totals up to 100. Acting is worth almost half, directing almost a third, technical elements 15%, and Innovation (which can also be called creativity) 10%. Because that’s roughly how the art of theatre breaks down. Those are the things that make a show entertaining, or powerful, or meaningful. I’d add a few details under Acting and Directing, because this doesn’t really get to the meat of what makes for great acting/directing, but an experienced judge probably knows those things already. I’d also add an additional category worth 5-10% for courage and creativity in picking the particular play.
Judges: If it’s true that all judges were white, male, and over 55, then there’s got to be some diversity added to the judging panel. That should be obvious.
If the issue is there aren’t enough qualified judges who aren’t already working in theatre in town, and so there aren’t enough impartial, qualified judges, then there’s an alternate way of doing this. Appoint 50 to 100 judges. Everybody who’s been active in community theatre for at least 5 years (some criteria could easily be devised). If you’ve worked for a local theatre in the last year, you can’t vote for any of the plays that theatre produces this year. You also can’t vote for any plays you personally work on this year. You have to see a certain number of nominated shows, though not necessarily all. Or alternately, there are no nominations, and you just have to see 12 or 15 shows. Basically, the community votes on itself. Similar to the Academy Awards and others. Doesn’t that make sense?
Michael Wright has mentioned Austin's B. Iden Paine Awards as a model that's possibly being looked at. I don't know much about them, except there's tons more awards than what I've proposed here, and those include music, youth, and more. Sounds great. I'm not familiar with who and how the judges work, but the more awards the better. And the money . . . well, that's a whole 'noher topic, isn't it.
Just giving money to a a very view groups based on their work on a single show doesn't really sound like the best way to achieve what I take to be the goals of the TATE's. But that's a topic for another post. Maybe more to come on that next time.
So, loyal readers, you may have noticed that SL918 has been on sabbatical for a while now. To be honest, my heart is broken. I sweat and slave over a hot keyboard for hours on end, and do you ever write, do you ever call? Am I just something you do for entertainment? I thought we had something special, and you treat me as if I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and you were Bernie Sanders. It’s almost as if you’d crawled into bed with ANOTHER WOMAN and committed some disgusting electoral perversion. Oral endorsement, or backdoor negotiations. I feel dirty just thinking about it.
Well, I can’t just leave you. Not without at least saying goodbye. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, you dicks. But I can’t keep writing this way. I have too much self-respect to keep prostrating my talent when you don’t respect me. Well, at least until I see a great show and I can’t help myself.
Sigh. I’m such a slut.
Read me, baby. Read me hard.
Sooooo, anyway. Now that the dust has settled, time to poke my stick around a bit and see what I can stir up. The TATE’s, wow. That was interesting. Regardless of how you felt about the evening itself, you have to admit that the aftermath was . . . noteworthy. Mr. Hanna’s guest post in this space was read well over a thousand times, about 4 times more than any post ever written by yours truly (you dicks). Though I think that Whit may have been responsible for reading it about 300 times, so I'm taking that into account. Still, you/we made our voices heard. And, rumor is there are steps being taken to make some adjustments, and maybe avoid a repetition of this year’s disaster. I don’t have the details, so there’s no actual news on this at the moment. And besides, sometimes things get done more efficiently and with better outcomes when they’re NOT being broadcast live to the general public, considering that 35% of the general public is composed of trolls and troglodytes. Sorry folks, that’s just the reality.
(Though we're still waiting for the transcripts of the clandestine meeting, held in Hitler’s underground bunker, where Hillary Clinton played Monopoly with her Wall Street overlords. Rumor has it that Bank of Oklahoma ended up with Boardwalk, while Goldman Sachs got Los Angeles. JP Morgan got India.)
I haven't posted about the TATE's since then, because honestly, Whit did a pretty excellent job of analyzing the problem (the dick). I didn't have much to add, except for noting that Busey's 5 year old son had a hard time with the buffet because it didn't have a gluten free option. (This factoid comes directly from a conversation he had with my wife at the buffet. I'd be tempted to be a little bit snarky about the whole cultural phenomenon of believing that ‘bread kills’ except that my church did communion that very morning, and for the first time ever there was a gluten free option on the body of Christ. I am not making any of this up.) (Presumably in the liturgical churches where the priest places the wafer directly on the tongue of the communicant, he will ask, “Bread of life or rice cake of life?”)
OK, now making a heroic effort to get my adult ADD under control, I'm going to recommend some solutions to the problems that Whit pointed out, along with some of the things I said prior to the event. However, since I want my suggestions to be taken seriously, and since I’ve already said “dicks” a couple of times so far, not to mention offending most of my Bernie-supporting readers and approximately 2 billion Christians worldwide (including my wife), I’m going to put my suggestions into a separate post. Tune in tomorrow, or maybe the next day, for a non-humorous, completely boring proposal to transform the TATE’s, revitalize the Tulsa theatre community, save America from itself, and find a way to salvage a church that has stood for love and mercy, imperfectly, for centuries, but now risks plunging into an abyss of nihilism and hate by supporting for President someone of whom it would be a kindness to suggest that perhaps the problem is that he’s simply suffering from Alzheimer’s. Wait, that’s probably a little much for one post, we’ll keep it to just the TATE’s next time. See ya’.
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