Minnesota Theater Awards launches

New program celebrates area theater practioners

The Twin Cities theater community gathered last night to celebrate the year’s accomplishments and recognize its finest work. The Minnesota Theater Awards has sprung up in the vacuum left when the Ivey Awards folded earlier this year. According to Brant Miller, one of the organizers, Four Humors Theater members had been joking around about another awards show for years, so when the Iveys came to an end, the consensus was, “All right, I guess we have to do it.”

It was an awards show with no winners – or rather all winners. Organizers were faced with a field of nominees so close together that naming a single winner was not only difficult, it seemed pointless.

“It got weird,” said Jason Ballweber, Artistic Director of Four Humors. But once they started calling it a “celebration” instead, it seemed perfectly natural to recognize all the honorees nominated. That was done with a beautiful photo collage of each artist or theater named in the seven categories:

  1. Overall performance
  2. Exceptional performative direction
  3. Exceptional design
  4. Exceptional individual performance
  5. Exceptional new work
  6. Exceptional ensemble performance
  7. Exceptional community engagement

Additionally there was a special “award” for stage management, and there was time allotted to note the contributions of two theaters that recently closed their doors: Red Eye and Patrick’s Cabaret.

The space itself was fraught with special meeting; it was first renovated by Theater de la Jeune Lune. Nathan Keepers offered up a touching tribute to the space and that renowned company.

Ballweber says Four Humors treated the celebration as part of their season. “We’ve done shows with much more complicated scripts, visuals, etc., and Aria [Event Center] is used to doing big events,” he said. Nevertheless, the event has probably already outgrown his company’s ability to produce it alone.

“Everybody loved the social aspect of the Iveys,” Ballweber says, but “this was an industry night. “We wanted to not perform for each other.” There were very few speeches, and they were both casual and brief. Most of the audience was standing, milling about, enjoying a cocktail and greeting old friends. The cheering generally drowned out speakers who announced the honorees, but nobody cared. This was all about being part of the celebration.



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