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J. Peter Bergman congratulates Darnell Abraham, winner of the award for outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical at the second annual Berkshire Theatre Awards in 2017. Photo: Stephen Sorokoff

Berkshire Theatre Critics Association defines categories for third season

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By Sunday, Jun 24, 2018 Arts & Entertainment 1

Pittsfield — Looking ahead at the third year of awarding theaters and theater personnel for their achievements, the board of directors of the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association has been working on definitions for various categories and determining eligibility requirements for both voting membership in the BTCA and for consideration for an award. The months between the second annual Berkshire Theatre Awards last November and the start of the busy theater season have been devoted to these issues. The following are the new criteria to which critics must adhere:

  1. A new play is one that has never been produced before, anywhere, in a full production.
  2. An ensemble play refers to a company in which all characters, by design, have equal importance with an approach to acting that aims for a unified effect achieved by all members of the cast working together on behalf of the play rather than emphasizing individual performances.
  3. A solo performance is a play with only one person in the cast.
  4. A play or musical must run for at least six performances after the critics’ opening night (which, in many cases, is not the first performance). However, if the first performance is open to the critics and the play runs for six total performances, it qualifies to be considered for an award.
  5. Critics, to qualify as voting members, must review the majority (50 percent or better) of the works presented by the five principal theater companies in Berkshire County: Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Group, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company and WAM Theatre. The BTCA urges critics to also review other theater companies on the BTCA list (named below) in order to provide a fair and impartial vote.
  6. At the end of the season (October 1 each year), all voting members will be sent a list of qualifying shows from which they may select their nominees and provide final votes. Shows that open after that date will be considered for the following year. All nominees will be notified, with certificates, by their theaters.
  7. The object of the selection of winners is not to single out the “best” in any category, but to reward the outstanding elements of the season, the work that is not possible to forget, that stands out, that exemplifies excellence—this applies to performances, direction, design, choreography and writing.

Theater critics Robert Bruyr, Sally Sugarman, Robert Sugarman, Ed Sedarbaum, Gloria Miller, Macey Lavin and J. Peter Bergman at the second annual Berkshire Theatre Awards in 2017. Photo: Stephen Sorokoff

The BTCA fully acknowledges that different people may focus on different things but, when there is a consensus in the voting, a clear winner (or perhaps a tie) will occur. This past season brought many surprises to the board of BTCA when companies with only a few Actors’ Equity Association member actors won awards for acting and won in other categories as well, but it seems only fair that all companies be treated equally under the standard of “outstanding work.” The professional companies may produce a weak production from time to time while the nonprofessional may present something truly wonderful. Therein lies the joy of live theater: the surprise of talent proven or evolving. Knowing that some professional companies have budgets that allow for more elaborate production values, the board feels strongly that it is the overall effect of a piece of theater rather then the money involved that makes for memorable experiences and that points the audience to something outstanding.

WAM Theatre executive director Kristen van Ginhoven at the second annual Berkshire Theatre Awards in 2017. Photo: Stephen Sorokoff

Theaters whose work will be considered this season include the five Berkshire County professional theaters mentioned above as well as Albany Civic Theater, Albany, New York; Ancram Opera House, Ancram, New York; Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Bridge Street Theatre, Catskill, New York; Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany, New York; Chester Theatre Company, Chester, Massachusetts; Circle Theatre Players at Sand Lake Center for the Arts, Averill Park, New York; Dorset Theatre Festival, Dorset, Vermont; Ghent Playhouse, Ghent, New York; GhostLit Repertory Theatre Company, South Egremont, Massachusetts; Hartford Stage, Hartford, Connecticut; Hubbard Hall, Cambridge, New York; Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, New York; Mixed Company, Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Oldcastle Theatre Company, Bennington, Vermont; Schenectady Civic Players, Schenectady, New York; Schenectady Light Opera Company, Schenectady, New York; Sharon Playhouse, Sharon, Connecticut; Taconic Stage Company, Craryville, New York; the Theater Barn, New Lebanon, New York; the Dorset Players, Dorset, Vermont; Living Room Theatre, North Bennington, Vermont; Town Players of Pittsfield, Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Walking the dog Theater, Hudson, New York; and any others that may be approved in time.

The BTCA is not required to give an award in any individual category and may designate a specific category for consideration under certain conditions when a theatrical element is in question (i.e. new play, musical or play with music, etc.).

The third annual awards ceremony will be held Monday, Nov. 12, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at a location to be announced. It will not take place in a theater whose work would be under consideration.

BTCA was founded by a committee inspired and headed by critic Larry Murray. A special award is given in his memory to a theater or theater individual when the work done is of benefit to the community in some specific way. It is a prize that will be determined by the BTCA board and not by full vote of the critics/members.

Categories currently* considered for the 2018 Berkshire Theatre Awards:

  • Outstanding Production of a Musical

    Mac-Haydn Theatre artistic director John Saunders and ‘Hello, Dolly!’ associate producer Monica Wemitt accept the award for Outstanding Production of a Musical at the second annual Berkshire Theatre Awards in 2017 as Berkshire Theatre Critics Association members Robert Bruyr, Sally Sugarman and Bob Sugarman look on. Photo: Stephen Sorokoff

  • Outstanding Production of a Play
  • Outstanding Ensemble Performance
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical
  • Outstanding Solo Performance
  • Outstanding Direction of a Musical
  • Outstanding Choreography
  • Outstanding Direction of a Play
  • Outstanding Costume Design of a Play or Musical
  • Outstanding Sound Design of a Play or Musical
  • Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play or Musical
  • Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play or Musical

* Other categories, including Outstanding New Play or Musical, may be included and will be determined in October.

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One Comment   Add Comment

  1. Jerry says:

    It is always a welcome sight to see some competition brought into the arts.

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