The Second Time Around

The Kevin Kline Awards: Looking back, looking ahead.

Finlayson: When I lived in Chicago in the 1970s and '80s, people expected the Goodman to do well. It was the most heavily endowed theater. It had been there forever. But I remember the year a very small company called Famous Door took the top award for best play, and it reminded everybody that it didn't have to be the Goodman every year. We ultimately just see how it shakes out. Would you want it any other way?

Townsend: I think there may be some further disappointment this year because there are more plays. The number of nominations has not increased, but productions have.

Sitzer: Some of that disappointment might come from the fact that some of the newer companies have risen to the bar of eligibility in the PTAC, but they might not yet have risen to the bar production-wise. So you might have a lot of new entries in the field and yet still have many of the same people from last year being nominated. It's just possible that disappointment of that nature could lead to some attrition in the PTAC in the future.

On with the shows: Steve Isom (left), Doug Finlayson 
(center), Rob Townsend (right) and Kathleen Sitzer (seated).
On with the shows: Steve Isom (left), Doug Finlayson (center), Rob Townsend (right) and Kathleen Sitzer (seated).


Nominees for the second annual Kevin Kline Awards will be announced at 11 a.m. on January 19, 2007, on KWMU (90.7 FM)'s Cityscape. The awards ceremony is scheduled for March 26, 2007, at the Roberts Orpheum Theater. For information, consult www.kevinklineawa

Isom: Here's a concrete example. Last year we couldn't fill the category of "New Play or Musical." We only had three nominees. This year in that same category a dozen shows will be competing to fill five slots. That might lead to disappointment, but how great for the community.

Townsend: It's about the community. I've been a proponent of that from the beginning. That's why this is a good program. But if you think about me as a producer for a minute, the Shakespeare Festival only does one mainstage play, so now that one production stands against many more than it used to. That's life. What are you going to do? An increased number of productions is good for the audience, certainly, and it's good for the practitioners because there's more work. That's what we want: growth.

Beyond the awards, what else has been accomplished this year?

Isom: We're starting to do more advertising for the theater community as a whole. Our education program is underway; we're now offering free tickets to high school students. Our theater roundtables are part of our philosophy that getting everyone together will create things. We want to keep the dialogue open. We feel that we're in a partnership with the theaters and we want their input.

Finlayson: In Chicago the theaters were very aware of each other's work. There was a connectivity that I think St. Louis is moving towards. I think that's the most important thing here. The awards and the celebration are the most visible part. But when I go into a theater lobby and see people reading the Kevin Kline poster, there's a heightened awareness that all these theaters are part of a community. And developing this increased sense of community is the main strength behind what's happening.

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