It’s a big night for the under 99-seat theater crowd. The LA Weekly Theater Awards! If the Ovations are like the Oscars, the Weeklies are like the Independent Spirit Awards. They’re the cooler, kinda quirky awards show. So I’m out of my dramaturgical shell to report in with a running diary.
5:24pm: I peruse the list of nominees before I head out. I saw two nominated shows. That should probably be higher. I am also the director of a nominated show though I take no credit for the nomination. In fact, I was actively trying to dissuade Chris Covics, our production’s nominated lighting designer, from going forward with most of his plans. But Chris is taller than me and he wears a leather jacket and smokes his cigarettes really aggressively so thankfully he won out.
6:11pm: I pass by an L.A. Weekly newspaper box on my drive over. There’s an advertisement for the awards show on the side. I wonder why they feel the need to publicly advertise. Are they hoping non-theater people will come? This seems like a decidedly inclusive event.
6:55pm: I stand on Ethel Merman’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while waiting in line. Seems appropriate.
7:08: On the back of the program for tonight, there’s an ad for “Batman Live: The Crime-Fighting Arena Spectacular,” playing at Staples and the Honda Center. I’m in on that. Early front-runner for 2013 Production of the Year.
7:29: The venue is the Avalon, in the belly of the Hollywood beast. My friend Kyle describes it as a “boom boom boom” kind of place. It definitely feels rather boom boom boom in here. It’s a theater party all right.
7:34: Percentage of the crowd that accepted the invitation to dress in togas and other Ancient Greek type stuff as per tonight’s theme: 60%. I opted for a sort of Don Draper in California look. I feel good about my choice.
7:54: Lost Moon Radio is in the house!
As expected, our hosts slay all night long. Very funny. Very proud of these guys and proud of L.A. theater for adopting them as our darlings. They opened by smearing (fake) lamb’s blood on themselves, a buck-naked guy presented awards at one point, Dionysus encouraged the crowd to suck his dick moments before City Councilman Eric Garcetti was introduced. So also, Lost Moon Radio don’t play around.
7:55: I win my first prop bet of the night when Lost Moon Radio drummer Mikey Wells comes out shirtless.
8:12: They’ve already gotten through three awards. They’re moving at a good clip.
8:19: Chris Covics for the win….No. Boo. I’m sure Derek McDaniel did a great job and congratulations to him but boo.
8:34: John Flynn wins the Career Achievement award. His company, Rogue Machine, is one of the big winners with Small Engine Repair. Also, Re-Animator: The Musical wins a bunch of stuff. These two shows are the stars of the night. I did not see either. I guess I sorta prove the point of all the recent talk about the lack of support in the community.
8:39: Randall Arney comes up and I’m about to make a joke about The Geffen slumming it when he offers up a sincere tribute to Gil Cates and I shut my mouth.
9:05: Ameena Kaplan wins the Queen of the Angels Award and brags about her hot dress. I agree. Ring-a-ding-ding. Ameena Kaplan is killing it tonight.
9:14: Sam Anderson wins something for Blackbird. I don’t care if that guy does Hamlet at the Globe, he will always be the principal on “Growing Pains” to me.
9:45: And we’re out the door.
I gotta say, it was a fun time. I came in really wanting to be smug and snooty and all precious about how awards don’t mean anything but it got tougher and tougher as the night went on. These people deserve to be praised. They all work their asses off for something they believe in and if they want to advertise that on the side of newspaper boxes and dress in bedsheets and go nuts, then by all means.
Good times. Congratulations to all.
About the Author: Dylan Southard is the co-Artistic Director of needtheater and previously served as their resident dramaturg and literary manager. Production dramaturgy credits for needtheater include: Fatboy, Mercury Fur, Scarcity, tempOdyssey, and The Web. He also directed needtheater's world premiere production of Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed. He is the resident dramaturg for The Robey Theatre Company at the Los Angeles Theater Center, where he runs the advanced playwrights lab and helps to oversee new play development. He is also an associate artist with the international, new script development group LoNyLa, and works as a script consultant for theaters, including The Center Theatre Group, The Geffen Playhouse, The Theatre @ Boston Court, and Native Voices at the Autry. He trained for two years under a dramaturgy fellowship at Centerstage in Baltimore and is a graduate of Wesleyan University.