While Broadway mavens have circled June 3 on their calendars as Tony night, downtown denizens will likely have their eyes on Monday, May 21. That's the date for the 2001 OBIE awards, sponsored by The Village Voice weekly newspaper to recognize excellence in Off- and Off-Off- Broadway theatre. Spokesperson Gail Parenteau confirmed (Feb. 26) that the event venue will be the same as last year, Webster Hall. Further details will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
The OBIE Awards were created soon after the inception of the Village Voice in 1955 "to publicly acknowledge and encourage the growing Off- Broadway theatre movement."
Unlike other award ceremonies, the OBIEs have no nominations, and multiple productions or artists can win in a single category. Because the award ceremony is still rather small-scaled, attendance is by invitation only.
Last season, a hundred-year-old play written by an Englishman dead for over fifty years was cited for playwriting honors at the 2000 OBIE Awards, given out at Webster Hall May 15. The play was Waste and the playwright, Harley Granville Barker. The production’s star, Byron Jennings, also won an OBIE, for performance. Mary Testa and Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde) co-hosted the event. (Testa stepped in for an ailing Patrick Stewart.)
Other big winners included the Builders Association and Diller + Scofidio production of Jet Lag, a multi-media meditation on travel and consciousness, which won for overall production and for one of its actors, Dominique Dibbell.
Among the other performers who collected prizes were Charlayne Woodard, for In the Blood; Debra Monk, for The Time of the Cuckoo; Eileen Heckart for The Waverly Gallery; Lynne Thigpen, for Jar the Floor; and Elizabeth Marvel and Christopher Evan Welch, for A Streetcar Named Desire at New York Theatre Workshop.
Director and theatre artist Ping Chong, a Downtown staple at La MaMa for 30 years, claimed a certificate for sustained achievement, as did performance artist Deb Margolin.
A complete list of 2000 OBIE honorees follows:
Colm Meaney, The Cider House Rules
Lynne Thigpen, Jar the Floor
Elizabeth Marvel, A Streetcar Named Desire
Christopher Evan Welch, A Streetcar Named Desire
Charlayne Woodard, In the Blood
Lola Pashalinski, Gertrude and Alice
Dominque Dibbell, Jet Lag
Cynthia Hopkins, Another Telepathic Thing
Debra Monk, The Time of the Cuckoo
Eddie Korbich, Taking a Chance on Love
Byron Jennings, Waste
Eileen Heckart, The Waverly Gallery
Marion McClinton, Jitney
Jan Hartley, Sustained Excellence, Projection Design
Mark Dendy, Choreography, The Wild Party
Christopher Akerlind, Sustained Excellence, Lighting Design
David Gallo, Sustained Excellence, Set Design
Susan Hilferty, Sustained Excellence, Costume Design
Harley Granville Barker, Waste
Best production, The Carbon Copy Building
Morning Song, Jan Lauwers/Needcompany
Sarah E. Johnson, Lava Love
Joe Mantello and Marc Wolf, Another American: Asking and Telling
The Builders Association and Diller + Scofidio, Jet Lag
Jesusa Rodriguez and Liliana Felipe, Las Horas de Belen -- A Book of Hours
Bill Talen, Reverend Billy
Maria Irene Fornes, for her writing and direction of Letters From Cuba
Deb Margolin, Sustained Excellence, Performance
Ross Wetzsteon Award, The Foundry Theatre
Big Dance Theater
— By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson