Friday, May 29, 2009

metaDRAMA: Independent Theater Blogger Awards

I know, I know--another set of awards being given out to the theater community? And by bloggers, those awful, self-inflated know-nothings who are just only one step above Tweeters? Sure, I've heard that argument--but what you won't hear are any complaints about the shows that were nominated and which ended up winning the first ever Independent Theater Blogger Awards, the result of a Blogger's Night organized by forward-thinking producer Ken Davenport. (You can see the list of most people involved by going to the ITBA site.)

What I appreciated about the Blogger's Night--and therefore, the awards we all created--was being reminded of just how many ways there are to celebrate and enjoy theater. I don't shy away from the fact that I'm just dying to talk about theater--the fact that most of my friends don't go to see shows is part of why I write about them in a public, formal way. I'm looking for comments, debate, discussion--anything to expand the conversation started by the playwright, expressed by the actors, guided by the director, and run off with by me. The same goes for many of the bloggers, even if I did find some of them to be overly focused with self-promotion or the Broadway stage. The fact remains that they all bring different things to this bare-bones, stone-soup discussion that we have online.

Do I think we needed awards? Not necessarily, but as Patrick Lee points out, anything that's able to put Flux Theater and Billy Elliot in the same post is OK by me. And if awards are what it takes to spark a passive theatergoers attention--just as the term "reviewer" somehow lends credibility to something posted on a blog--then that's even better. Your comments are wanted.

As to my ends, I'm hoping that the ITBA will grow exponentially--but moreover, that this aggregate (like a pre-emptive Critic-O-Meter) will be able to identify and track the hottest off-off-Broadway companies (as I try to do with my "What Sounds Cool" monthly feature) and get out to see more of their work. I've got a "Trusted Theater" sidebar on this site--I'd like to fill it. On your end--I'd love for readers to chime in with a list of exceptional companies that they think merit watching. Then we can start to have a truly robust conversation about Off-Off-Broadway awards next year. After all, it's not hard to find a show on Broadway, or even Off-Broadway: most of them get covered. But with the volume and range of Off-Off-Broadway . . . we need more eyes in the field. And some of those eyes, hopefully, will be yours.

Many of the posts on the ITBA are unfortunately reiterations of the press release, but you can check those out at Pataphysical Science, Just Shows To Go You, Me2ism?, Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals, Visible Soul, Off-Stage Right, Theater Aficionado at Large, The Producer's Perspective, Stage Buzz, Stage Rush, Adventures in the Endless Pursuit of Entertainment, One Producer in the City, and Broadway Abridged, as these writers are likely to continue the discussion over the next few weeks.

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