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Thursday, September 8, 2011

2012 Obies Judges Announced

Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway’s Highest Honor Salutes Outstanding Theatrical

New York, NYThe Village Voice, the nation’s first and largest alternative weekly newspaper, has announced the judges for the 57th Annual Village Voice Obie Awards. The Voice’s chief theater critic, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and theater dramaturge Michael Feingold, who has chaired the Obies since the 2006-7 season, will become the first Obies Chairman Emeritus. The 2011-12 Obie Chairman will be Brian Parks. Brian is the Arts and Culture editor of The Village Voice, which includes editing the paper’s theater section. He has previously served as Obies Chairman, from 1999 to 2003.
Joining Feingold and Parks will be Voice critic Alexis Soloski. She also contributes frequently to The New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and BBC Radio. A professor of theater, Alexis is a lecturer in the Core Curriculum at Columbia University.
The four guest judges are: Annie Baker, Best New American Play Obie winner in 2010 for her plays Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens; Anne Kauffman, accomplished director, instructor, and 2007 Obie winner for her direction of The Thugs; José Rivera, two-time Obie Award winner for his plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; and Helen Shaw, a theater critic for Time Out New York and a past Obie judge. Her writing has also appeared in The Village Voice.
Meet the Judges:
Obie Chairman Brian Parks is happy to return to the role, and hopes to maintain the high standards that his predecessor Michael Feingold has set for the awards and recent ceremonies. “It’s been great to dive back into the Obies. New York has such a huge theater scene, and I’m honored to be able to help reward its most talented and creative people,” states Brian.
Michael Feingold says, “I am thrilled that Brian Parks is willing to take over, despite the tremendous weight of his expanded responsibilities as Arts & Culture Editor, and I know from experience that he’ll do a wonderful job. I’m delighted to go back to my traditional role as the committee’s resident objection-raiser. It’ll be like a vacation.” 
One of the most significant changes that Alexis Soloski has witnessed in the non-profit, Off-Broadway scene over the years is geographic. “We’ve seen theaters close throughout the West Village, the East Village, and the Lower East Side,” she says. “But it’s heartening how many new theaters have sprung up, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens, and how successful they’ve been in attracting artists and audiences.”
Asked what winning the Obie for Best New American Play and a check for $1,000 meant to her in 2010, Annie Baker observes, “Winning an Obie meant the world to me.”
For Anne Kauffman, the most important quality a director can possess is “Patience!” That word goes a long way, as evidenced by Anne’s endurance, grace, and serenity.
José Rivera is the first Puerto Rican to be nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for “Best Adapted Screenplay,” for the film The Motorcycle Diaries. When asked how a commercially successful playwright stays true to his or her non-profit theater roots, he laughs. “I’ve never been a commercially successful playwright,” he says. “No play of mine has ever been extended more than a couple of weeks. I’ve never been well-reviewed in The New York Times, never been on Broadway, and except for the Obies, have never won major awards in the theater. So I have no trouble staying true to my non-profit roots!”
Helen Shaw remembers the most profound reaction she ever received from a review. “It was an artist-not-to-be-named who flew at me in the doorway of P.S.122 and called me a terrorist and then banned me from his work. It wasn’t pleasant!”
Founded in 1955 by Voice cultural editor Jerry Tallmer, The Village Voice Obie Awards annually honor the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Unlike most theater awards, the Obies do not publicize nominations or employ rigid categories in which a “Best” is selected. In the conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges select outstanding artists and productions and may even invent new categories to reward artistic merit. Past winners have included such well-known stars as Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, William Hurt, Morgan Freeman, Mos Def, Felicity Huffman, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Olympia Dukakis, Robert Duvall, Denzel Washington, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Joan Cusack, and Harvey Fierstein, to name a few. 
Venue details for the 57th Annual Obie Awards Ceremony, the names of the hosts and presenters, and information about how to purchase tickets will be forthcoming.
About The Village Voice
Founded by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer in October 1955, The Village Voice introduced free-form, high-spirited, and passionate journalism into the public discourse. As the nation's original and largest alternative newsweekly, the Voice maintains the same tradition of no-holds-barred reporting and criticism it first embraced when it began publishing 56 years ago.  The recipient of three Pulitzer prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, among others, the Voice has earned a reputation for its groundbreaking investigations of New York City politics and for its expert coverage of New York's cultural scene. Writing and reporting on local and national politics, with opinionated culture, music, art, dance, film, and theater reviews, daily web dispatches, comprehensive entertainment listings, and unrivaled classifieds, the Voice is the authoritative source on all that is New York.
The Village Voice has also created such celebrated events as the Obie Awards, the 4Knots Music Festival, Choice Eats, Brooklyn Pour, the Web Awards, as well as the most anticipated issues and guides of the year—including the annual Pazz and Jop music poll, the annual Film Critics Poll, Best of NYC, and its Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Preview guides. The Voice is New York's most influential must-read alternative newspaper, both in print and online at, where the site averages 1.5 million unique users each month.
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