The Village Voice OBIE Awards were created soon after the inception of the publication in 1955 to publicly acknowledge and encourage the growing Off Broadway theater movement. The VOICE OBIES were purposely structured with informal categories, to recognize those persons and productions worthy of distinction each theater season. The OBIE Awards are an important part of the VOICE's long history of championing Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions.
The Village Voice put the new downtown theater movement on the map with in-depth coverage and support. The paper was a forum for conflicting viewpoints which helped generate excitement about the new theater.
In 1964, Off-Off Broadway plays were included in the VOICE OBIE Awards for the first time, while Off Broadway became a testing ground for Broadway hits. The influence of Off Broadway on "mainstream" theater cannot be overlooked -- productions such as "Hair," "A Chorus Line," and "Ain't Misbehavin'" evolved from Off Broadway workshops. Yet Off Broadway retained its original identity as a place for adventurous theater and artistic ideas.
The OBIES have become a theatrical tradition, a meaningful way of acknowledging the best of Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway and the list of actors, directors, writers and designers who have been launched by the OBIES is a who's who of theater. The categories for the awards have changed almost annually, but the spirit remains the same. The Village Voice OBIE Awards continue to salute a theatrical movement that's as important -- and as vibrant and dynamic -- as it was in 1955.