Chad Deity, Ethan Hawke, Laurie Metcalf, Thomas Sadoski, Charlayne Woodard Win Obie Awards

By Andrew Gans
16 May 2011

Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place.
Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place.
Photo by Joan Marcus

The 56th Annual Village Voice Obie Awards, considered by many to be Off-Broadway's highest honor, were presented May 16 at Webster Hall in the East Village. Emmy winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Tony winner David Hyde Pierce hosted the evening, which featured a special performance by Obie winner Anthony Rapp.

Informally structured, with no strict categories, The Village Voice Obie Awards honor excellence in every aspect of Off-Broadway theatre. The Obie Awards publish no nominations, and judges may give multiple Obies in any category, or even invent new categories, to reward exceptional artistic merit.

The Obie Awards judges committee was again chaired by the Village Voice's chief theatre critic, Michael Feingold. Voice critic Alexis Soloski joined Feingold on the committee, as did four guest judges: The New Yorker critic Hilton Als, three-time Obie Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, Obie Award-winning director Evan Yionoulis, and Theatermania critic and frequent Voice contributor Andy Propst, who again served as the committee's secretary.

The Best New American Play Obie Award went to The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Pulitzer Prize finalist Kristoffer Diaz's wrestling drama, which was seen at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre in May 2010. Edward Torres — who staged the play's Chicago premiere at Victory Gardens Theater — directed the New York production.



Obie winners for 2011 follow:

Best New American Play
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz
(This award is accompanied by a $1,000 check.)

Lifetime Achievement
Repertorio Espanol and its co-founder and artistic director, René Buch

F. Murray Abraham
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Performance
F. Murray Abraham, sustained excellence of performance
André Braugher, The Whipping Man (Manhattan Theatre Club)
Michael Chernus, In the Wake (Public Theater)
Ethan Hawke, Blood from a Stone (The New Group)
Hamish Linklater, The School for Lies (Classic Stage Company)
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place (Manhattan Class Company)
Thomas Sadoski, Other Desert Cities (Lincoln Center Theater)
Scott Shepherd, Gatz (Elevator Repair Service / Public Theater)
Brenda Wehle, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures (Signature Theatre / Public Theater)
Charlayne Woodard, The Witch of Edmonton (Red Bull Theater)

Playwriting
Samuel D. Hunter, A Bright New Boise (Partial Comfort Productions)
Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Invasion! (The Play Company)

Direction
Austin Pendleton, Three Sisters (Classic Stage Company)
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher (New York Theatre Workshop)
Leigh Silverman, In the Wake (Public Theater) and Go Back to Where You Are (Playwrights Horizons)

Design
Jill BC Du Boff, sustained excellence of sound design
Donyale Werle, sustained excellence of set design

Special Citations
Design and choreography, Sleep No More (Punchdrunk Theatre) Felix Barrett, Livi Vaughan, Beatrice Minns, Maxine Doyle, Stephen Dobbie, Euan Maybank, and David Israel Reynoso
Young Jean Lee, We're Gonna Die (13P / Joe’s Pub)
debbie tucker green and Leah C. Gardiner, Born Bad (Soho Rep)

Obie Grants ($2,500 to each theatre)
Metropolitan Playhouse
Wakka Wakka

The Ross Wetzsteon Award (includes $1,000 check)
Belarus Free Theatre

The awards, founded in 1955 by Voice cultural editor Jerry Tallmer, honor the Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway season. Past recipients include Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, William Hurt, Morgan Freeman, Mos Def, Amy Irving, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Olympia Dukakis, Robert Duvall, Denzel Washington, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Joan Cusack and Harvey Fierstein.

For more information visit obies.villagevoice.com.