Shanley, Hughes, Culkin, Marvel, O'Connell Among 2005 Obie Winners

By Robert Simonson
16 May 2005

John Patrick Shanley at the 2005 Obie Awards
John Patrick Shanley at the 2005 Obie Awards
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The winners of 50th Annual Obie Awards were revealed May 16 at downtown Manhattan's Webster Hall, and the names announced included several artists associated with the critical hit Doubt, New York Theatre Workshop's avant garde revival of Hedda Gabler and Theatre for New Audience's rare staging of W.S. Gilbert's Engaged.

Engaged, mounted back in April 2004, took home the most prizes. Honored were actor Jeremy Shamos, set designer John Lee Beatty, lighting designer Rui Rita, sound designer Guy Sherman, and costume designer Catherine Zuber.

Also honored was Engaged director Doug Hughes, who took home an Obie for "sustained excellence of direction." Hughes also directed Doubt, which collected Obies for playwriting (John Patrick Shanley) and acting (Cherry Jones). Another directing Obie went to Ivo van Hove for his stripped-down, stylistically unusual Hedda Gabler. Other Hedda artists crowned were actors Elizabeth Marvel and Jason Butler Harner and set designer Jan Versweyveld.

An award for sustained achievement went to playwright John Guare and The Ross Wetzsteon Memorial Award was presented to New Dramatists, the organization that nurtures new theatre writers.



The 2005 Village Voice Obie Winners run as follows:

Performance
Jeremy Shamos, Engaged
Elizabeth Marvel, Hedda Gabler
Jason Butler Harner, Hedda Gabler
Rosemary Allen, Good Samaritans
Cherry Jones, Doubt
Larry Bryggman, Romance
Kieran Culkin, After Ashley
Mercedes Ruehl, Woman Before a Glass
LaChanze, Dessa Rose
Deidre O'Connell for sustained excellence of performance
Vivienne Benesch, Going to St. Ives
L. Scott Caldwell, Going to St. Ives

Direction
Dan Wackerman, Counsellor-At-Law
Ivo van Hove, Hedda Gabler
Doug Hughes for sustained excellence of direction

Playwriting
Christopher Shinn, Where Do We Live
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
Caryl Churchill, A Number
Lynn Nottage, Fabulation

Design
John Lee Beatty, set design, Engaged
Rui Rita, lighting design, Engaged
Guy Sherman, sound design, Engaged
Catherine Zuber, costume design, Engaged
Thomas Lynch, set design, Woman Before a Glass
Phil Monat, lighting design, Woman Before a Glass
David Van Tieghem, sound design, Woman Before a Glass
Willa Kim, costume design, Woman Before a Glass
Jan Versweyveld, set design, Hedda Gabler

Special Citations
The Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas
Hell Meets Henry Halfway
Sin: A Cardinal Deposed

The Ross Wetzsteon Memorial Award
New Dramatists

Sustained Achievement
John Guare

Grants
13P ($3000)
Epic Theatre Company ($3000)
Little Theater at Tonic ($3000)
Gina Gionfriddo for Distinguished Emerging Playwright ($1000)
Margo Skinner Memorial Acting Scholarship ($1000)

The 2004-2005 Obie committee includes Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, who is currently being celebrated by the Signature Theatre; three-time Obie Award winner Kathleen Chalfant, recently in Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom; two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, who was most recently on Broadway in Prymate; Obie-winning actor and playwright David Greenspan, now in Faust in Love; recent Anna in the Tropics Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega; 20th century American theatre scholar David Savran; Village Voice theatre critics Michael Feingold and Alexis Soloski; and Village Voice theatre editor and chairman of the Obie Awards committee, Charles McNulty.

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."