The annual Tulsa Awards for Theater Excellence, which awards a total of $20,000 to honor outstanding productions by local theater companies, will take place Sunday, Aug. 2.
The awards will be announced beginning at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the TATE Facebook page.
This is the 12th year for the awards, which are underwritten by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
However, this year’s event will be much different from previous ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the city-mandated shutdown of public events went into effect in March, several local theater companies had yet to present shows they would have submitted for consideration for the awards.
“We originally decided to extend the deadline to August, in the hopes that things would get back to normal and people could resume putting on shows,” said Jeremy Stevens, community engagement and development coordinator with the Tulsa PAC who has overseen the TATEs for the past few years. “And, obviously, that did not happen.”
Stevens said the TATE committee decided to go ahead with the awards, as a total of 11 shows had been submitted for consideration before the shutdown.
“Unfortunately, that meant that American Theatre Company and teleTulsa (a company specializing in Latinx theater) ended up being shut out, as their eligible shows were scheduled for the end of March or later,” Stevens said.
The Tulsa Awards for Theater Excellence awards cash prizes for Outstanding Production of a play, as well as for Outstanding Youth Production, which could be for either a musical or nonmusical production that is performed by actors no older than 18.
The winner for Outstanding Production receives a $10,000 cash prize, with awards of $5,000 and $2,500 presented to the first and second runners-up, respectively. The Outstanding Youth Production receives a $2,500 cash prize.
The shows that are up for consideration for the 2020 TATEs are:
• “The Face of Emmett Till,” presented by Theatre North, about the brutal murder of a young Black man that became a flashpoint of the Civil Rights Movement.
• “August: Osage County,” presented by Theatre Tulsa, Tulsa native Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play about an Oklahoma family dealing with a houseful of dark secrets.
• “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda,” presented by World Stage Theatre, about a refugee trying to gain some kind of justice for her murdered family and the diffident counselor assigned to help her.
• “The Nostalgia Will Eat Itself,” presented by the Midwestern Theater Troupe and Heller Theatre Company. An original play by John Fisher, it is the story of a Tinder date that evolves into a full-blown horror story.
• “The Deaths of Sybil Bolton,” presented by Heller Theatre Company. David Blakely’s adaptation of Dennis McAuliffe’s book tells a highly personal story about the “Osage Reign of Terror” in the 1920s.
• “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” presented by Theatre Tulsa. Steve Martin’s surreal comedy on life, art and science imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in a Paris bistro.
• “The Wolves,” presented by Clark Conservatory, about the members of a girl’s high school soccer team as they deal with the big questions and tiny battles of everyday life.
• “The Secret in the Wings,” presented by Clark Conservatory, in which the obscure fairy tales a baby sitter tells to a young girl come disturbingly to life.
• “Fairy Tale Misfits,” presented by Spotlight Children’s Theatre, about a young woman who encounters all the odd characters left out of familiar fairy tales.
The Clark and Spotlight shows are up for Outstanding Production as they featured adult, as well as youth, performers.
Two shows are under consideration for Outstanding Youth Production: Clark Youth Theatre’s production of “The Lion King Jr.,” which was part of the company’s Penguin Project that gives youngsters with various challenges the chance to work and perform with Clark regulars; and Spotlight Children’s Theatre’s “Peter and the Wolf.”
In addition to the cash awards, the ceremony will also present a number of certificate awards for outstanding ensemble, direction, set design, lighting design, sound design, props, and costumes, hair and makeup design.
Certificate awards will also be given to outstanding original play and outstanding lead or supporting performance by an actor or actress.
This year will mark the debut of a new award, the Tyrone Wilkerson Award for Social Justice & Awareness, named for the late actor and director to recognize productions that deal with social issues.
Also part of the TATE ceremony is the presentation of the Mary Kay Place Legacy Award, given to an individual who has helped set the standard for work ethic, leadership, creativity and inspiring others through his or her work in local theater.
This year’s recipient will be John Cruncleton III, whose career as an actor, writer, director, designer and teacher spans a quarter of a century. Cruncleton was one of the co-founders of the Midwestern Theater Troupe, which used its base of the Nightingale Theater to present cutting-edge theater, from imaginative stagings of classical works to performances of Cruncleton’s original, often epic, plays.
Cruncleton has been a staff member of Clark Youth Theatre since 2011, and has worked as an actor and designer with several local companies. Four of the shows up for TATEs this year feature Cruncleton as a performer or set and lighting designer.
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