Michael Feingold will return to chair the 2014 Village Voice Obie Awards — Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway’s highest honor — to be presented Monday, May 19, at Webster Hall.
Tom Finkel, the Voice‘s editor-in-chief, welcomed Feingold, saying, “I’m thrilled to have Michael Feingold back in our midst. To me, the Obie Awards have always embodied the Voice‘s passion for the arts and for downtown theater in particular, and as far as I’m concerned, Michael is the embodiment of the Obies.”
Among Feingold’s tasks as chairman will be to contribute, as in previous years, an essay to our paper’s Obie Awards issue, conveying his thoughts on the theater season.
Says Feingold, “I am so pleased to be involved with the Obies yet again. Nothing makes me happier than another chance to honor some of the dedicated theater artists whose work does so much to enhance our life here in New York.”
Feingold began contributing to the Voice in 1971 and served as its chief theater critic from 1983 until May 2013, during which time he was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and a recipient of the coveted George Jean Nathan Award for excellence in theater criticism.
A frequent Obie committee member, he served as Obie chairman from 2006 to 2011, returning to the role in 2012 and ’13. He is also a produced playwright and translator, whose new version of Eugene Ionesco’s The Killer will be produced in May by Theater for a New Audience, directed by Darko Tresnjak, with Michael Shannon in the lead role.
The Voice‘s drama critic, Alexis Soloski, will again serve as secretary to the committee. Her essays, articles, and book and performance reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Yorker, Modern Drama, Theater Journal, and Theater. She is a frequent guest on BBC radio. She earned her doctorate in theater at Columbia University, where she recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the humanities
The following guest judges will join Feingold and Soloski on the Obie committee:
Kirsten Childs is a musical-theater writer whose show The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin won her, in addition to the Obie, the Kleban, Larson, Richard Rodgers, Audelco, and Gilman/Gonzalez-Falla awards, as well as Lortel and Drama Desk nominations. She is working with Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman on the musical Fly, with Charlayne Woodard on the musical Grace, and is developing her own show at Playwrights Horizons exploring the African-American experience in the Wild West. Among her other works, Miracle Brothers was produced at the Vineyard Theater, while Funked Up Fairy Tales was recently staged at the Depot Theater in Westport. She has also written for Disney Theatricals, the American Songbook series at Lincoln Center, the New Electric Company, Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum, and City Center Encores! She is a professor at NYU’s graduate musical theater writing program, a member of both the Dramatists Guild Council and the Dramatists Guild Fund, and especially proud to be a mentor in TDF’s Open Doors program.
Nicky Paraiso is director of programming for The Club at La MaMa, and curator for the annual La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival. He has been an actor, musician, and solo performance artist in New York’s downtown theater for over three decades, involved most notably in the work of Meredith Monk and Jeff Weiss, among others. He has served on various theater and dance panels and selection committees, currently including the New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies.
Tonya Pinkins is a Tony and Obie Award-winning actress who has appeared in television and film, but whose first love is the theater.
Michael Sommers currently covers the New York theater scene for New Jersey Newsroom. He is a freelance reviewer of regional theater for the New York Times and was recently named executive editor for the annual Best Plays series. A former president of the New York Drama Critics Circle, he has written for various publications for more than 30 years, and previously served as a guest judge for the 1995 Obies.
Rick Sordelet is the most prolific fight director in the U.S., with 60 Broadway productions and 54 first-class productions on five continents to his credit. He has staged fights for hundreds of Off-Broadway and regional theater shows, as well as over 1,200 episodes of daytime television and several first-class films. A board member for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, he has won the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, and a Jeff Award for Best Fight Direction for Romeo and Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare.
Founded in 1955 by Voice cultural editor Jerry Tallmer, the Village Voice Obie Awards annually honor the best of Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. Unlike most theater awards, the Obies do not publicize nominations or employ rigid categories.
In the conviction that creativity is not competitive, the judges select outstanding artists and productions and may even invent new categories to reward artistic merit. Past winners have included such well-known stars as Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, William Hurt, Morgan Freeman, Mos Def, Felicity Huffman, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane, Olympia Dukakis, Denzel Washington, Glenn Close, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones, Viola Davis, and Harvey Fierstein, to name a few.
The index of all the past Obie winners is at villagevoice.com/obies
Rosemary R. Jorda, event director for the Village Voice Obie Awards, is managing the full Obie Awards program. Longtime publicist for the Obies (since 1994) Gail Parenteau is responsible for booking the co-hosts and presenters.
For press information or to suggest a presenter or host for the 59th Annual Obie Awards ceremony, contact Gail Parenteau at Parenteau Guidance, 212-532-3934, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For sponsorship, contact Rosemary Jorda, 212-475-7446, email@example.com.
To invite the 2014 Obie judges to see your show, contact ObieJudges2014@gmail.com.