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ATAC President defends the Globe Awards

In advance of Current theater critic Tom Jenkins’s critique of the Alamo Theatre Arts Council’s annual Globe Awards, I spoke with ATAC Board President Tom Masinter, a composer, music director, and charming man who agrees that the number of awards had started to get out of hand in the past few years. So they’ve attempted to address the problem, he says, by strictly limiting the awards, which are for “excellence,” to performers and crewmembers who make the designated score cutoff — say 9 out of 10. You might have six recipients in a given category, or you might have one.

“It doesn’t mean those were the only ones who were excellent,” Masinter says. “It just means we can’t give awards to everybody. ... It dilutes the notion of excellence.”

As critics of the awards process have noted, the judges’ panel (38 members for the 2008-09 season) is heavily stocked with members of theater-producing community.

But Masinter sees this as an advantage, ensuring that performances are judged by individuals who are intimately familiar with blocking, design, acting, etc., as well as theater fans.  

“We have judges who are actually actors, directors, or producers, tempered with civilians — theater-lovers, members of the community,” Masinter explains. (You’ll find a list at the end of our post with some notations; we’re still sorting out all of the relationships, so please clue us in. Please keep in mind that this is not a criticism of the judges’ talent, dedication, or integrity, but of the system.)

A minimum of five judges must see a show in order for it to be eligible for the awards, and perhaps to facilitate this, judges don’t have to recuse themselves if, say, their significant other is the lead — they just can’t score that individual’s performance. Regular troupe members can still review plays produced by their theater or collective, as long as they’re not on the board, or running or managing the company.

Masinter says they weed out biased reviews by hewing to median scores. If a show is getting consistent 7, 8, and 9 rankings, and a 3 suddenly pops up, he says, that can be an indicator of a “rogue judge” — someone nursing a grudge, or put off by nudity.

And Masinter says they caution judges: “If you don’t think you can be fair one way or another ... including ‘you don’t like the subject matter’” recuse yourself.

Critics of the awards wonder whether the second part of that clause is the reason some more controversial productions get passed over — as an example of such a potential situation, Masinter mentioned AtticRep’s production of Albee’s The Goat, which features man-animal love and isn’t receiving a Globe Award this year despite a universally acclaimed performance by Gloria Sanchez.

“I haven’t seen any kind of favoritism in recent years,” Masinter maintains. “You’re always amazed at what wins and what doesn’t. Theater is an art, not a sport. ... [the judges are] supposed to judge a show on its own merits and not compare it to another production another theater did three years ago.”

Masinter says that critics of the awards are few and personally motivated: “You generally only hear from the people who aren’t winning. It’s like being the principal of a high school; you only hear from the sour grapes.”

“At the end of the day,” he adds, “you say at least we had some awards for excellence, that were deserving.”



2008-09 ATAC Globe Award Judges
Ray Baird (actor, singer); Emily Boehm; Sidney Burnette (actor); Rose Cohen-Brown (senior secretary in classical studies, Trinity University); Anne Collins (actor); Beth Delcampo (actor, singer, currently starring in Evita at the San Pedro Playhouse); Mary Denman (actor, patron); David Ferguson; Laurie Fitzpatrick (actor); Don Frame (actor); Lilly Gardner; Vincent Hardy (actor, instructor and director at St. Philip’s College); Tim Hedgepeth (director, founding member of AtticRep); Jean Karren, Harold Karren; Marty Kushner (instructor and director at Trinity University); Bruce Liesman (VP, Classic Theatre board of directors, husband of actor and singer Anna Gangai); Diane Malone (director, designer, Classic Theatre co-founder); Rick Malone (Classic Theatre co-founder and technical director); Jim Mammarella (actor, director, instructor); David Mangelsdorff (patron); Tom Masinter (composer and arranger); BJ Naegelin (instructor, San Antonio College); Josephine Neesvig; Donna Peacock (author, first Director of Creative Writing at the North East School of the Arts); Karl Price; Melva Price; Margaret Priesmeyer-Masinter (attorney); Barbara Richmond, Lew Richmond (member of the Beth-El Players); Terri Peña Ross (actor), Allan Ross (director, instructor); Pete Sanchez (actor, father of Gloria Sanchez); Rick Sanchez (actor, singer); Joe Smith; Bettye Jo Shryock (member of UIW’s Extended Run Players), Edith Speert (patron); William J. Stewart (lighting designer)

2009-10 ATAC Globe Award Judges
Ray Baird (actor, singer); Rene Paul Barilleaux (McNay museum chief curator, partner of Tim Hedgepeth); Diana Begley; Angela Bennett (actor, director); Emily Boehm; Sidney Burnette (actor); Anne Collins (actor); Beth Delcampo (actor, singer, currently starring in Evita at the San Pedro Playhouse); Mary Denman (actor, patron); David Ferguson; Don Frame (actor); Rick Frederick (actor and member of AtticRep troupe); Lilly Gardner; Vincent Hardy (actor, instructor and director at St. Philip’s College); Tim Hedgepeth (director, founding member of AtticRep); Jean & Harold Karren; Marty Kushner (instructor and director at Trinity University); Twyla Lamont (choreographer); Diane Malone (director, designer, Classic Theatre co-founder); Rick Malone (Classic Theatre co-founder and technical director); Jim Mammarella (actor, director, instructor); David Mangelsdorff (patron); Tom Masinter (composer and arranger); Josie Molina; Josephine Neesvig; Kevin Parman (composer and arranger); Donna Peacock (author, first Director of Creative Writing at the North East School of the Arts); Karl & Melva Price; Margaret Priesmeyer-Masinter (attorney); Barbara & Lew Richmond (member of the Beth-El Players); Chris Rodriguez (choreographer); Terri Peña Ross (actor); Allan Ross (director, instructor); Gloria Sanchez (actor, daughter of Pete); Pete Sanchez (actor, father of Gloria); Rick Sanchez (actor, singer); Joe Smith; Edith Speert

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 10/14/2009 6:33:42 PM
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