Guess I’m giving a party on May 20th. I hadn’t been thinking about this year’s Obie Awards. I was too busy getting depressed about the state of the theater. (It’s a known fact that critics always get depressed about the state of the theater.) So the theater, that tricky place, decided to cheer me up, by letting me know about some people who’ll be coming to my party. And suddenly, my life is about to be filled with all these wonderful people I love–the kind of people who make the theater a joy to write about, and rescue critics from depression.
Jessica Hecht, Jeremy Shamos, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Grace, Judith Light, Aasif Mandvi, Krysta Rodriguez, Duncan Sheik, Courtney B. Vance: That’s a list of names that could cure anybody’s depression. The best part is, they’re the hosts and presenters for the awards ceremony, so they’re the ones who do all the talking. I don’t even have to worry about getting tongue-tied in their presence–which I usually do in the presence of fabulous artists. Oh–and did I mention Meryl Streep? Well, I’m one of the few who doesn’t get tongue-tied in the presence of Meryl Streep. She and I go back a long way–back to when she was a tiny child at the Yale School of Drama and I was already, as all critics always are, a very, very world-weary old man. I once directed a children’s show in which she–but I think I’ll save that story, in case I actually have to speak at the ceremony itself.
Meryl will be presenting the Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement, and she’ll be presenting it to two artists who’ve spent their lifetimes helping me and the rest of the critical corps stave off our collective depression about the theater: Lois Smith and Frances Sternhagen. It makes me happy just typing those names–and seeing them onstage makes me even happier. They’re both much younger than I, of course.
So I plan to spend the next seven weeks looking forward to a wonderful party: the 58th Annual Village Voice Obie Awards. Now that you know who’s going to be there, you’ll probably want to buy yourself a ticket too. As chairman of the awards committee, I get a comp, of course–but that’s why people become theater critics, isn’t it?