Long Wharf Theatre Associate Director Eric Ting who directed the theater’s current production of Clybourne Park as well as the world premiere of Laura Jacqmin’s January Joiner in Long Wharf Stage II back in January, has won an Obie Award for one of his non-Long Wharf projects, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s drama We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.
The play was done at Soho Rep in New York City last November. Ting (shown above walking his dog Henry in downtown New Haven) also directed We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… in the spring of 2012 at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.
Other 2013 Obie winners which might resonate with New Haven audiences included Ruben Santiago-Hudson (whose autobiographical one-man show Lackawanna Blues was at Long Wharf in 2002) for his revival of Yale Rep icon August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson; David Byrne, who’ll be playing New Haven’s Shubert in June, for his musical with Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love), Lois Smith (who starred in Lil’s 90th by Darci Picoult at Long Wharf Stage II in 2010); and John Rando (who has the distinct honor of having been announced as director of two regional theater shows in Connecticut that never happened: David Ives’ Polish Joke, which fell off the Long Wharf Theatre schedule in 2002, and Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy at Westport Country Playhouse, which ended up being directed by David Kennedy instead) for Ives’ All in the Timing.
The other Obie winners: David Levine and Marsha Ginsberg, Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Ayad Akhtar,Annie Baker, Eisa Davis, Brandon J. Dirden, Shuler Hensley, Matthew Maher, Paul Thureen, Fulcrum Theater, Half Straddle, David Byrne & Fatboy Slim, Clubbed Thumb, Lois Smith, Frances Sternhagen, Lear deBessonet, Laura Jellinek, Clint Ramos and the plays Detroit and Grimly Handsome.
The Obie Awards (the title is from “O.B.” for Off Broadway) began in the 1950s to honor the new breed of theater happening in New York City beyond the commercial confines of Broadway. The awards were created by the Village Voice, which helped further the Off Broadway movement by reviewing shows which critics for the major New York daily newspapers weren’t at. The
On May 17, the Village Voice let go several of its longtime staffers, including Michael Feingold, the Yale School of Drama grad and long-ago Yale Rep literary manager who had been writing about theater for the paper since 1970. Feingold chaired the committee which presented the Obies, and was apparently the center of attention at the awards ceremony Monday due his unceremonious dismissal from the Voice last week.
The New York reported today that Feingold’s contract with the Voice expires Tuesday, and that he “is now talking to the Voice about writing freelance reviews and continuing as chairman of the committee of judges for the Obies.”
The Voice’s coverage of Off Broadway has already shrunken alarmingly over the years. Not that others haven’t picked up the slack; the Times and other dailies have covered Off Broadway pretty handily for decades now, and thanks to the internet the days are now long gone when a story or ad in the Voice were the only way non-New Yorkers could find out about a hot new small theater. But out-of-the-way theater reviews was one of the major alternative elements which distinguished the Voice when it first began in 1955.
The Voice’s coverage of its own 2013 Obie Awards is underwhelming. There are 63 uncaptioned photos of attendees (Eric Ting’s in number 21 of the “Photo Booth Fun” shots) and a couple of other slideshows illustrating the ceremony, but the only real analysis of the awards is the the pre-ceremony announcement piece filed by Feingold. I don’t like it when the Times covers Voice things better than the Voice does.
The Obies will never be the same. Thank goodness Eric Ting got his now.