Just in case you’ve been taking last week’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards too seriously, consider this: in terms of trophies, one of the best shows of this or any other season was shut out.
Tetsuro Shigematsu’s Empire of the Sonwent into the evening with seven nominations—including outstanding production and direction in the small-theatre stream—and could legitimately have won in any of those categories. But it didn’t triumph in any of them.
This is an excellent reminder, I think, the the real honour is in the nominations. Even the nominating process is weirdly subjective, of course, but at least that process accommodates a wider range of tastes. When it comes down to voting for a single winner, that acknowledgement of variety and difference goes out the window and the particular biases of the juries that determine the awards come into play.
I’m not dissing the jury members, who work diligently. Let me say that again: I am not dissing the juries. Unbiased voting is impossible: we all have our tastes. I’m just saying that the process of choosing one piece of art as the “best” is fraught with problems.
Thanks to presenter Dawn Petten for repeatedly reminding us of this throughout the ceremony.
And let me add my voice by saying to all of the nominees: Relish your nominations; in my opinion, that’s where the most meaningful honour lies.