Craig Lucas's Small Tragedy an exploration of American attitudes about Bosnia as refracted through members of an acting company, was named Best American Play.
Two awards went to a couple influential artistic heads, George C. Wolfe and Mark Russell, both of whom are leaving the institutions they head at the end of the season—The Public Theatre and P.S. 122, respectively. Together, the theatres may be the two most important venues in the downtown theatre scene.
Davis accepted her award with the comment, "I'm just glad to have a job!" Kaufman, meanwhile, was in the bathroom when his name was called for his work on I Am My Own Wife. Kaufman's partner took the podium and stalled until the director dashed up the aisle.
Sarah Jones' acceptance speech was delivered via two of the characters she employs in her solo piece bridge & tunnel.
The evening began with Tonya Pinkins singing sexy versions of the jazz standards, "Blues in the Night" and "Stormy Weather," allowing the actress to break out of the sullen vocal style she uses to nightly play the title character in Caroline, or Change. Swoosie Kurtz of Frozen and Raul Esparza of The Normal Heart hosted the 2004 Obie Awards ceremony.
The Obies (as in "OB," short for Off-Broadway) have been presented since 1956 by the alternative Manhattan weekly The Village Voice, and honor strictly Off-Broadway work. There are no nominations, and the panel of judges may award as many prizes in one discipline as they please, even inventing new categories when it serves the purpose. The organization's motto is expressed as "Creativity is not a contest."
A complete lists of winners follows:
Viola Davis, Intimate Apparel
Lisa Emery, Iron
Jayne Houdyshell, Well
Sarah Jones, Bridge & Tunnel
Jefferson Mays, I Am My Own Wife
Zilah Mendoza, Living Out
Maude Mitchell, Mabou Mines dollHouse
Brian F. O'Byrne, Frozen
Tonya Pinkins, Caroline, or Change
Lili Taylor, Aunt Dan and Lemon
The acting company of Bug (Shannon Cochran, Michael Shannon, Michael Cullen, Amy Landecker, Reed Birney)
The acting company of Small Tragedy (Ana Reeder, Mary Shultz, Rob Campbell, Daniel Eric Gold, Lee Pace, Rosemarie DeWitt)
Lee Breuer, Mabou Mines dollHouse
Moisés Kaufman, I Am My Own Wife
Best American Play
Craig Lucas, Small Tragedy
The design team of Bug -- Lauren Helpern (sets), Tyler Micoleau (lights), Brian Ronan (sound), Kim Gill (costumes), Faye Armon (props)
Derek McLane, Set design (I Am My Own Wife, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Intimate Apparel)
Robert Een, Hiroshima Maiden
Pieter-Dirk Uys, Foreign AIDS
Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, Caroline, or Change
Soho Rep, Molly's Dream
The Builders Association and motiroti, Alladeen
Kyle Jarrow, and Alex Timbers, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant
George C. Wolfe, For his stewardship of the Public Theater
Martin Moran, The Tricky Part
Terry Nemeth, Play Publishing, TCG
THAW (Theaters Against War)
The Ross Wetzsteon Award
St. Ann's Warehouse (Susan Feldman, artistic director)