Martin Denton was kind enough to respond to a quick e-mail I sent him a few months ago, regarding the Innovative Theater Awards. With the recent Nobel Prize awarded to Harold Pinter, it seemed a fair enough time to address the issue, and I appreciate how throughly he responded.
It's no secret that awards are a bit of smoke and mirrors; to even suggest that the Oscars or Emmys are representative of the best television or films of any given year would be hilarious. For years, for example, NBC ran a show called "Homicide: Life on the Street." This was simply one of the best televsion programs ever aired on network television, and featured acting and writing and storytelling, especially in its best middle years, that stands up easily to what the Sopranos or Six Feet Under were able to do on HBO. This show was never even, as far as I know, nominated for Best Drama at the Emmys. "Everybody Loves Raymond" received a Best Comedy Series Emmy, even though I can think of three show right now that are far superior to this drivel.
The Tonys are no exception to this rule, of course. But it's all par for the course. The reason that the Emmys don't award odd shows that are on late Friday night is because no one in their audience has likely seen them. These awards are sporting events for fans; if you don't know who to cheer, you won't watch. Even the most "Independent" of awards ceremonies know their audience and cater to their preferences and to what's on their radar. The Tonys aren't about to become an Award that offers some category that pits the best of the regional theaters against each other: it's unlikely the people who love the Mark Taper Forum saw what was up at the Goodman or Guthrie this year.
I'm sure there is quite a bit more to be said. Leave me a comment if you have any thoughts.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.