To Award or not to Award?

That is, and will always be, the question.

Check out, if you haven’t already, Augusta Supple’s blog at augustasupple.com because she is a talented, insightful, emotive writer and reviewer after my own heart, telling it as it is. Most recently, Augusta has blogged about boycotting the Sydney Theatre Awards, which is no small protest from somebody who is a respected authority on Sydney theatre and theatre-making generally. Put it this way: Gus knows her stuff. If she is of the opinion that vital work was overlooked, I’m prepared to take her word for it.

The same week, I received my print copy of Stage Whispers

(I’m a bit old school when it comes to subscriptions)

I noted, with interest, that in his editorial, Neil Litchfield bemoans the fact that Sydney community theatre has no special social event for its theatre-makers – no awards, no dinner, no party it seems – as the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria does in its celebrated Bruce Awards.

“I can only wish we had a similar community musical theatre night-of-nights, not so much for the awards, as for the fabulous performing showcase, and the immense sense of the performing community coming together in the foyer before and after the packed house ceremony. I felt a great nostalgia for Sydney’s lost tradition of Combined Musical Society Balls.” Neil Litchfield

Here here!

On the Sunshine Coast we have been missing, for a long time, as well as our unbiased reviewer, a number of those other elements that bring together a theatrical community: combined company productions, Saturday mornings spent at whichever theatre has a set requiring painting, fittings at Nancy’s house, living room play readings, piano parties and that strange affair known as the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance STAR Awards. Well, some of us have not missed the STAR Awards at all but instead, since its demise some years ago, have decided to replace the entire event with a SOIREE, without the pressure, mess and aftermath of an awards system that left most dissatisfied (and too many falsely confident in their abilities), rather than simply delighted to have had the opportunity to catch up with like-minded friends in a swanky setting over a few fancy drinks.

I attended what must have been one of the last ever STAR Awards evenings. I was pregnant. I was not drinking. I was bemused and dismayed that very little mingling and networking happened and instead, a lot of gossip happened, prior to the event, during the night and well and truly after the evening had finished! Those who had been recognised and given awards tended to grin and gloat and those who were overlooked were needlessly devastated. Of course I’m over-generalising (I’m sure there have been some who have themselves wondered at the award they’ve received!) after all, let’s not forget that I was sober! I’m sure it was all good originally,

Way back in the days when the grass was still green

and the pond was still wet

and the clouds were still clean,

and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…

Suffice to say, towards the end, the awards night was just not achieving one of its main goals: to bring together in celebration, the theatrical community on the Sunshine Coast. (The STA’s major goal has always been to promote live theatre across the Sunshine Coast and this is something that is done superbly, via some terrific print and radio media partners, social media and livetheatre.com.au).

This year, the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance, with Sam Coward at its helm, has decided to celebrate our involvement in local theatre without the awards. The evening, in February, is an opportunity to celebrate freely, without the competitive element. Sam says, “Take away the competition and we are left with a fun, friendly night of celebration and an opportunity to launch every theatre company’s 2012 season.” Sounds good to me. Thanks to the work of the committee members, we will enjoy drinks, canapes, media, mingling, networking, catching up with friends and performances from some of the theatre companies. Next year, we hope to see performances from ALL of the theatre companies. this will be a major milestone in itself. Previously, only not-for-profit theatrical companies have been granted STA membership and thus, their support. In terms of advertising alone, to allow ALL companies now to join the Alliance is a complete turnaround and a big step forward for the Sunshine Coast theatre community. It was something that had always baffled me: why would those over-achieving multi-taskers among us choose NOT to make money from our art? I know. I hear you guffawing. But we try, don’t we? And for those of us who make the effort to capitalise on what we’re doing, there is now a little bit more support locally than there was before.

Now. What to wear? The dress code is Dress to Impress and the ONLY award of the night is for Best Dressed!

Ironic much?

Obviously then, when reporting back to you, I shall have a fabulous photo gallery rather than a boring list of the theatre-makers-somebody-thought-did-the-best-job-all-year-even-though-the-criteria-was-thrown-into-question-and-they-didn’t-see-everybody-else’s-efforts-and-played-favourites-anyway.

That may not be true. I can’t back that up. I’ll just post the pics of everybody looking fab, shall I?

What are your thoughts on arts’ awards?

Do you prefer a people’s choice award? If so, The Groundlings can be found at actorsgreenroom.net. Do you like your critics to deem what’s “best”? If so, you can appreciate those Sydney Theatre Award results and look forward to the Matildas. Or do you really just enjoy a genuine celebration without the competitive edge? If so, come join us at the Soiree! Only 60 tickets left! Book online here.

2 Responses to “To Award or not to Award?”

  1. January 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Why not both celebration party-style and the opportunity to applaud the excellence of work by colleagues. PS Thanks for the link love to Greenroom and the Groundling Awards, where nominations are pouring in. 😉 PPS Have a ball!

    • January 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Kate! We love your Groundling Awards and consider that you’ve got them just about spot on! I’m glad the noms are pouring in and I’m keen to see what the people consider to be the best of Brisbane theatre. I like the celebratory party-style awards model the most and I hope it’s something the Coast will work towards holding again sometime (I think the STAR awards started out that way and, going by what Neil has observed, it’s the way the Bruce Awards continue to function) but the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance agreed that politics had begun to play too big a part here and hence, for this year, to get the ball rolling again, we have a party! 😀

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