Dunedin Theatre Awards / PLanD Creative Director Patrick Davies has asked Theatreview to publish the following correspondence, due to appear on the Otago Daily Times. “More than likely I imagine my response will be edited,” notes Patrick, “but I like the idea that the full commentary comes out.”
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the recently held Dunedin Theatre Awards, which have again been given out only to theatre productions from the Fortune and Globe Theatres. Once again these awards seem more divisive and exclusive rather than inclusive and a celebration of all the theatre organisations in Dunedin.
I went to the Taieri musical production of My Fair Lady in June and the Gilbert and Sullivan production of Utopia, in September. Both productions were outstanding and enjoyed critical acclaim playing to capacity audiences. It appears that the panel of judges did not see these productions, which is why they did not make the nomination list.
I would suggest that all societies be given the opportunity to put forward their theatrical productions planned for the respective year and the ‘panel' of judges in turn must commit to see all these productions. How could they truly judge what was best if they haven't seen them all? Imagine the best picture award at the Oscars being decided by a panel that haven't seen all the movies up for nomination.
Last year, I read a number of letters to the editor complaining about the exclusion of musical theatre/opera/operetta and it appears no lessons have been learnt from last year despite assurances changes would be made. These awards seem very biased in favour of the Fortune and Globe Theatres and they ignore everyone else. This is a most unsatisfactory and unfair situation and I hope real change can occur before next year's event.
Here is the response (requested by the ODT Editorial Department) from Patrick Davies:
All 29 theatre providers in Dunedin were contacted and asked to provide information about all of the people involved in all of their shows. This was a change from last year where musical theatre, children's theatre, student theatre and mixed ability theatre were not eligible. Some groups forwarded all of their personnel and a few groups decided to forward only some. ALL of these people were considered by the panel – not just some, or just some theatre groups – all.
I'm glad you are psychic and know what shows the panel went to. In particular both the Taieri Musical Society's production of My Fair Lady and the production of Utopia (Limited) by The Really Authentic Gilbert & Sullivan Performance Trust missed out on nominations by a hair's breadth. Perhaps you know what I am thinking now. I saw My Fair Lady and it was one of my favourites in the year.
The Panel is aware of the difficulties in seeing every show and we are investigating ways to level the playing field. This group works voluntarily and diligently to see and assess as much as possible.
How many of the 64 shows of 2011 did you see? How did you support theatre in 2011? There are those who create and there are those armchair critics who bitch. To state that we ignore productions or groups is insulting, naive and stupid.
Please send any realistic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And thank you for gaining us press! Well done.
Dunedin Theatre Awards / PLanD