Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2007 Bay Area Critics Circle Awards

Thanks to Ray Renati for posting this list of the 2007 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards.

Foothill's production of Pippin gets some respect, as do a couple of 42nd St. Moon productions. But generally it's a lot of the same old suspects. I'd be depressed if I did theatre in San Jose, though. San Jose theatre got no respect.

So, I'm hardly qualified to judge whether the Critics did a good job or no? Anyone want to start a controversy?


I'll refrain from being highly controversial, but I will be totally self-serving.

Foothill's Carousel got the shaft. Only four members of the BATCC came to see the show, and six members have to see it in order to get any nominations. (For the shows in smaller theaters, like Pippin, only two members have to see it.)

This rule may make perfect sense, but it bothers me that Foothill doesn't get the same level of critic respect/attendance that, say, Broadway by the Bay gets.

And yes, as I said, this is entirely self-serving as I was in Carousel and eligible for an award myself. So take it with however many grains of salt you like. But I think I would be saying these things even if I hadn't been in the show.
Foothill gets more exposure in these awards year after year than probably any other company. The only theatres that have rivaled Foothill in the number of nominations historicall has been Theatreworks, A.C.T., The Willows and Berkeley Rep. I won't comment specifically on "Carousel" but I think that these mysterious "critics" that make these decisions always have Foothill on the brain.

These awards always seem to be to be highly biased year after year. I don't no why we as a theatre community even care about them.

Over the years here are some of the things I've noticed about these awards which render them meaningless:

1. The critics tend to give an unrealistic number of nominations to a handful of people or companies each year. For instance Berkeley Rep received 25 nominations this year, and their next door neighbor, The Aurora, received 14 nominations. One wonders if maybe the critics just couldn't get it in themselves to venture past the 2000 block of Addison Street.

2. Rarely does any company further south than Los Altos get any attention. For instance San Jose Rep. itself received 5 nominations as compared to 21 for A.C.T. And almost never do you see companies like Bus Barn, Palo Alto Players, Saratoga Drama Group, or City Lights on there.

3. The category of 99 and under houses has also become a farce now. The "crtics" seemed to have anointed SF Playhouse this year as the winner take all company. They received 21 nominations.

4. No one ever is given visibility into how the nominees are picked. Why should we as a theatre community put any credence in these awards when it's obvious that there are no guidelines or openness about the selection criteria?
All good points. In particular I noticed that the 99 and under category (at least for plays) doesn't venture far outside of SF or Berkeley. There's good work being done at places like Dragon and Pear Avenue that deserves recognition.

San Jose Stage and City Lights are other companies that get zero respect from the BATCC, and yet they consistently do very good work.

I know other groups have it much worse than Foothill, which does get recognized. And I admitted my response was totally self-serving. I was just a bit shocked to see Carousel totally excluded, simply because I expected it to receive a few nominations - because the Foothill summer show always does. But yes, there are A LOT of theater companies in the area (especially the South Bay) that have much more legitimate complaints.

If the awards are going to be remotely meaningful, perhaps the critics circle should be expanded. The Bay Area is very large, and there's a ton of theater going on. No critic can possibly see all of it. Perhaps the circle should have equal representation of critics from the Peninsula, SF proper, East Bay, and South Bay.
I'm pretty shocked that Carousel didin't get any nominations at all. Really shocked. Atleast for costumes or music. Oh well...

I saw My Fair Lady and LOVED it at the new Lohman theatre!!! You need to put up a blog about Foothill's new era of music theatre and its fantastic show!!!!
No need to be depressed,congrats for qualifying.
Wide Circles
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