Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Wicked Stage hands out Dodecahedra

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:44 PM

dodecahedron2jpg

So I’ve been asked by two different parties for my thoughts concerning the ATAC Globe Awards’ list of potential winners for excellence in theater. (The awards ceremony is this Sunday.) The requests startled me. In the past, the only reason I’ve ever had any thoughts concerning potential winners was because of egregious critical lapses in the judging process—such as for the productions of The Goat and Electricidad—and inadequate ethical guidelines. (Indeed, the AtticRep has withdrawn itself from Globe Award consideration since the fiasco of two years ago.)

But this year, like most years, the list of potential Globe winners is, by design, the opposite of thought-provoking. Indeed, it confounds thought. One scans the catalogue (available here) for possible indications of which productions featured excellent acting, or excellent direction, or excellent design—but one ultimately fails to glean anything since only productions are listed, never categories. So a single production, like Extremities, could win eight awards, or one award, for something; a single company could win three awards this season or forty. Who knows?

This vagueness is, of course, on purpose. A nominee-and-winner process, like Austin’s, that singles out a smaller slate of individual artists for their art, would also generate controversy. The greater San Antonio community might actually get into a conversation—even an argument—over which theaters and productions are actually excellent, and which are just good. Or terrible. So we’re essentially given a guest list—practically an Evite—to the Globe Awards ceremony, where things may, or may not, get sorted out. Here’s hoping.

A few years ago, in the spirit of satire, we inaugurated the Current’s competing Dodecahedron Awards, which attempted to recognize productions and artists that deserved special mention. (There are typically so many Globe Awards tossed out every year, it’s easy for truly memorable experiences to get lost in the blizzard.) I hasten to add that, unlike the ATAC Globe Awards—which really do cover most everything—our own coverage is rather more hit-and-miss. And, since my own personal day job is at Trinity University—where the AtticRep is in residence—my first choice for a Dodecahedron is completely open to charges of bias.

But that just means I need to mount a particularly sturdy defense. And without further ado, the Dodecahedron for Best Ensemble goes to the AtticRep’s The Irish Curse, one of the few times in my San Antonio experience when I felt that the quality of the acting far outstripped the quality of the play. As a script, the Irish Curse is, like its protagonists, only modestly-endowed; Martin Casella’s one-act follows the travails of five men in a support group for those with small penises. The structure is more-than-predictable—it’s five monologues, essentially, with some connecting material—and the evening has no scene changes, narrative leaps, or other dramatic flourishes. The focus, then, is entirely on the acting—and the AtticRep’s ensemble (Rodman Bolek, Rick Frederick, Rusty Thurman, Lawrence Coop, Tyler Keyes) knocked it out of the ballpark, with nary a weak link. The AtticRep’s small and awkward space was here made a virtue: the actors had no place to hide, and, fortunately, didn’t need to.

In the individual acting category, it’s a Dodecahedron for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Jillian Cox, for her operatic take on a frustrated sister-in-law in San Pedro Playhouse’s The Light in the Piazza. As a quasi-operetta, Piazza isn’t to everyone’s taste; but it’d be hard to fault Cox’s perfect comic timing on her big Act I solo “The Joy You Feel.” (Alas, San Antonio is apparently losing Cox to the bright lights and siren call of New York City. Break a leg, Ms. Cox.)

And lastly, since Dodecahedra can be awarded for practically anything—including, say, delicious artisanal sandwiches—it’s a special Dodecahedron to the Overtime for Best Graphic Design. While many other troupes struggle to maintain an updated, interesting, and informative online presence, the Overtime delivers intriguing designs that comment on the play in ways that are both helpful and eye-catching. (Runner-up is the late Chuck Ramirez’ wonderful design for the AtticRep’s Smudge—but the Overtime gets the nod for consistency.)

As for the Globe Awards this Sunday, good luck to all potential winners. For once, we at the Wicked Stage are completely sincere.

--Thomas "Damn, These Dodecahedra Are Awkward  to Grasp" Jenkins, Current theater critic.

 

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