I love the theatre. However, when you truly love something it is important that you can see the flaws in the object of your affection, and I not only know the flaw but sometimes it really is hard to overlook. I have been a part of many shows, including multiple that have gone to competition. The competition could be for UIL one-act play competition for school, Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards, or for the Tony Awards wannabe award show for a children’s theatre.
As much as I love competition season, there’s something that always eats me up inside: judging and awarding theatre is that it’s entirely subjective. This was made incredibly clear to me during my senior year of high school. I was a part of an amazing show. I had the opportunity to play Charlotte Hay in Moon Over Buffalo for the One Act Play competition. We had a fantastic show, the timing was perfect, the characters were all strong, and the comedy was hilarious. We did very well, making it to bi-district and we even won a couple awards, including best actress which was a huge deal because in 17 years our school only had two other best actors/actresses. However, once we made it to bi-district we got last place despite having one of the best shows there. When we were getting our notes from the judges it was clear that the only reason we did not advance and got such a low ranking was because we were a comedy and they didn’t want that to advance.
As you can possibly imagine my cast and I were furious. But, it taught me something that was very important about theatre. Theatre and other arts are all subjective. What one judge loves can be what another despises, or what one group of people think as groundbreaking others can think of it as predictable.
This became evident to me when I was watching the 2016 Tony Awards, Hamilton dominated the awards winning 11, but I personally believed that many of the awards should have gone to other shows. Back in 2004, Avenue Q took home the coveted Best Musical Tony Award over Wicked, this was seen as a huge upset, but Wicked was winning everything and there was that need for the love to be spread around in order to appreciate the other shows that were just as good but were being hidden behind the Wicked hype. When I was watching the 2016 Tony’s I was hoping for the sane type of upset to occur for Waitress. I knew that it was a slim chance, but I had hope that a show that dealt with abuse and the complexities of life for a woman as she finds her power would do better than a show that has won almost every other award that it was nominated for.
But that’s life and that’s how some things are, and it’s impossible to change people’s opinions. Despite my feelings about judging and awarding theatre, I believe that it is very important to the culture of the community, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be in front of my TV with a bowl of popcorn watching the Tony Awards.