As reported in the Sept. 23 Village Voice, judges have been selected for the 1997-98 Village Voice OBIE Awards, which recognize excellence in Off-Broadway theatre. Awards are given each May.
Two critics from the newspaper, Michael Feingold and James Hannaham, will be flanked by Guest Judges Suzan Lori Parks (playwright), Polly Pen (composer, Bed And Sofa), Steven Samuels (of Theatre Communications Group) and Marian Seldes (actress). Charles McNulty will serve as assistant to the committee, which is chaired by senior editor, Ross Wetzsteon.
This 1996-97 judges were Wetzsteon, Feingold, Voice critic Alisa Solomon, actress Karen Evans-Kandel (Peter And Wendy), playwright Craig Lucas (God's Heart), professor Eugene Nesmith, Lincoln Center Library's Rob Marx, and OBIE secretary Charles McNulty.
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 many other awards, the OBIES don't have nominations. OBIE spokesperson Gail Parenteau quoted Wetzsteon as saying the organization doesn't believe in nominations because "they don't like awarding one person at the others' expense." Also unlike other honors, multiple productions or artists can win in a single category -- and the OBIES come with a cash grant. Because the award ceremony is still rather small-scaled, attendance is by invitation only. Also, the past season's awards were not be broadcast on public or cable television (though portions were taped for segments on news and public affairs shows). Asked about the decision not to go with NY-1 (where, for example, the Drama Desk Awards were shown), Parenteau said, "We don't want to be contained to a certain length, like an hour and a half or two hours. Also, this is really for insiders who need to feel free to say things and let their hair down."
For more information, check the OBIES website at http://www.villagevoice.com/obies. Information on dates for this year's OBIES is not yet available.
--By David Lefkowitz