By Marcina Zaccaria
On Monday, September 22nd,, the 2014 Innovative Theater Awards honored some of Off-Off Broadway theater’s finest.
The Awards began 10 years ago, and they recognize the writers, actors, directors, choreographers, and designers working in Off-Off Broadway theaters. The Awards are produced by the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation. The NYIT Foundation honors “artistic heritage,” providing “a meeting ground for this extensive and richly varied community.”
This year’s awards were held at Mason Hall in the Baruch Performing Arts Center, located at 17 Lexington Avenue. The host of the show was Jason Kravits, who starred as ADA Richard Bay on the Emmy Award winning show, The Practice. In his opening monologue, he mentioned the popular Off-Off Broadway venues where the work was performed, including La MaMa ETC, Ars Nova, HERE Arts Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and The Brick Theater.
The evening began with performing artists in bright bustiers and colorful jumpsuits dancing to the song, “Downtown,” choreographed by Rachel Stern, director of Around the World in 80 Days. The show continued with heartfelt speeches from indie theater artists. Presenters for the evening included Mariah MacCarthy, Craig Lucas, Andre De Shields, Andy Lang, and Jim Rado were among some of the artists who presented awards. Some of the presenters have been involved in the Off-Off Broadway scene for more than 50 years.
Among the winners announced in advance were Kevin R. Free, who won the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. Free said that he was taught to write by the NeoFuturists, and he considers danger and safety in writing. The Artistic Achievement Award Recipient went to RadioTheatre’s Dan Bianchi, who is celebrating his 10 years with the company. A video presentation showed Bianchi’s work.
The Ellen Stewart Award went to Woodie King, Jr., who founded the New Federal Theatre. King, Jr. has been creating theater for over 45 years. The Caffé Cino Fellowship Award went to Blessed Unrest, a theater company known to produce “dynamic, disciplined, and exuberant new works for the stage.”
Other winners announced at the event include:
Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role
Jenny Seastone, The Gin Baby, Mermaid Sands Productions and Kid Brooklyn Productions
Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role
Noel Joseph Allain, Luft Gangster, Nylon Fusion Theatre Company
Outstanding Original Music
Scott Munson, Sawbones & the Diamond Eater, Days of the Giants LLC
Outstanding Solo Performance
Sandy Moore, The Simple Stories, WorkShop Theater Company
Outstanding Original Short Script
Lenore Wolf, April March, Fragments from an Unintegrated Life from East Side Stories: Movers, Metropolitan Playhouse
Outstanding Original Full-length Script
David Stallings, Dark Water, MTWorks
Outstanding Innovative Design
Nicole Hill For Puppet Design, Mute, New York Neo-Futurists
Outstanding Costume Design Presented by TDF Costume Collection
Gail Cooper-Hecht, The Importance of Being Earnest, Take Wing and Soar Productions, Inc.
Outstanding Set Design
Travis McHale, Rubber Ducks and Sunsets, Ground Up Productions
Outstanding Lighting Design
Kia Rogers, Jane the Plain, Flux Theatre Ensemble
Outstanding Sound Design
Christian Frederickson, The Awake, kef theatrical productions
Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role
Jason O’Connell, Don Juan in Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble
Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role
Heather E. Cunningham, An Appeal to the Woman of the House, Retro Production
At First Sight (and Other Stories),Broken Box Mime Theater
Outstanding Choreography/ Movement
Carlos Neto, Gymnos: A Geek’s Tragedy, Ticket 2 Eternity Productions
DeLisa M. White
Lights Narrow, Teatro Oscuro
Outstanding Performance Art Production
The God Projekt, La MaMa in association with Lone Wolf Tribe
Outstanding Production of a Musical
Allegro, Astoria Performing Arts Center
Outstanding Revival of a Play
Don Juan in Hell, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble
Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play
Pirira, Theatre 16
Each year, The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation recognizes “the unique and essential role it plays in contributing to American and global culture. They believe that publicly recognizing excellence in Off-Off-Broadway will expand audience awareness and foster greater appreciation of the New York theatre experience.”
To learn more about the IT Awards, please feel free to visit their website at www.nyitawards.com.