What is the definition of "professional theater" in St. Louis?
Isom: That was the first big issue we had to deal with. We decided to be inclusive, to include any theater that makes the effort to compensate its actors, designers and directors, and then stages at least six performances. Our goal is not to exclude, but to grow theater in St. Louis. If we get 1 percent of the Muny audience to go to some of these smaller companies, they're made.
Nominees for the first annual Kevin Kline Awards
will be announced at 11 a.m. on
January 19, 2006, on KWMU (90.7 FM)ís St. Louis
on the Air. The awards ceremony is scheduled
for March 20, 2006, at the Roberts Orpheum
Theatre. For information, consult
Finlayson: I've been asking myself, what is the downside of the Kevin Kline Awards? And I don't see a downside. A small company gets on the poster, and that's enough. Maybe they don't get any nominations, but the idea of being considered as part of a larger community is such a positive, just as having the Rep be acknowledged as part of that larger community is valuable to the Rep as well.
Townsend: I do have one disappointment, which is that the Black Rep wasn't considered. They do strong work. They're a force to be reckoned with. Everyone should be clear that this was their choice. But their decision to exclude themselves makes the theater community weaker.
Sitzer: At New Jewish I'm producing culturally specific theater. The Black Rep's mission is very similar to ours, just a different cultural group. Their exclusion makes me sad, because I think they are missing a great opportunity.
Isom:I have great respect for the Black Rep, and for [producing director] Ron Himes. Of course we want them to be part of the process. We went to Ron very early. He was one of the first people we wanted to get involved. We do respect their right to not participate. It's their decision, and they made that decision. But on our side the door is open. Call me tomorrow and you're part of the process.
Between now and the awards ceremony on March 20, what is the worst-case scenario for the Kevin Kline Awards?
Isom: The worst-case scenario would be if the nominations came out and a lot of the theater owners were disgruntled and felt it hadn't been fair. I know everybody's not going to be happy; someone will feel they didn't get a fair shake. I just hope the fact that we tried so hard to make it a fair and credible process will ease us through that period. I of course would like all the nominees to be spread out over the theaters. But if it ends up going heavily with one or two theaters, that's just the way it is. We set up the system to be as fair as possible, and if that's the way it shakes out, it's fine.