Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Shakespeare Reach-Around

The Shakespeare Theatre (now: Company) has been bestowing their annual Will Award since 1988, and the Gala Awards Ceremony is a big money-maker for the Free For All at Carter Barron. It's a worthy cause, so the occasional eye-roller (Mel Gibson?) can be overlooked. From Joe Papp to Christopher Plummer, from Patrick Stewart to Maggie Smith, the recipients list reads like a who's who (or who used to be who) of high-profile classical theatre. Of course, because the event during which the award is bestowed is a fund-raiser, all the recipients are substantial stars. We are not likely to see the Will Award bestowed on Simon Russell Beale or Antony Sher until they star in a hit movie or TV series.

Until now. This year, The Shakespeare Theatre Company will be bestowing the Will Award upon...themselves.

Emery Battis, Floyd King, Ted van Griethuysen, David Sabin, and Ed Gero are all actors who helped ignite excitement in the classics through their performances over the years. Helen Carey, Andrew Long, Tana Hicken, and Philip Goodwin have all lent their talents to the company many, many times. But I wonder about a few of the other recipients. Avery Brooks? Patrick Page? Geraint Wyn Davies? These fine gents have appeared a few times at The Shakes, and apparently are now considered actors who have substantially influenced the success of the theatre.

Good for them and the theatre, I suppose.

But if Mr. Page is considered a member of the company after a grand total of two roles, and Mr. Wyn Davies after three, then where are Kelly McGillis, Pat Carroll, Caitlin O'Connell and Craig Wallace? How was this list of "company members" compiled?

Wally Acton and Fran Dorn have not been seen in these parts in many moons (the Twelfth Night reading at KenCen notwithstanding), but congratulations on your lasting influence on the company.

There is even confusion about how many actors are actually receiving the award. The Shakespeare Theatre website announces 13 honorees, though Michael Kahn is excited about only 11 of them. Apparently, the press release announcing the recipients lists 15 actors scheduled to get the award, including Nancy Robinette, who is not mentioned elsewhere.

So maybe the Awards list continues to grow. Better snag your ticket to the ceremony; you might be winning one.