Welcome to our annual bash. We'd call it a holiday gathering, but the party's actually been in progress all year long, in theaters large and small across our region. Everybody brings a camera to these things, it seems—and we're no different. In the categories and lists below you'll find a series of snapshots, candids and motion studies we've taken of an exuberant theater community ever busy in the business of creation. (No selfies. You're welcome.)
Contributors to this story included INDY Week critics Kate Dobbs Ariail, Tom Elrod, Emma Miller, Zack Smith and Chris Vitiello. All winners are listed in alphabetical order.
SPECIAL ASSISTANCE TO THE THEATER
Ellen Hemphill, Derrick Ivey, Tim Scales
We get it: It is hard enough getting your own shows up and running in the first place. That's why it's particularly notable when stage artists are able to contribute something beyond their own work to the larger community of practice as well.
When Duke University gave ELLEN HEMPHILL no room to stage her newest work, she raised the funds, summoned the people power and converted a long-shuttered warehouse on Foster Street to a stately pleasure dome called 539 Muze. There she staged The Narrowing, and in December Little Green Pig produced The Man Who Was Thursday in the same space.
With Manbites Dog Theater just two blocks away and the Shadowbox one block over, what could stop this development from catalyzing a downtown theater district? The bulldozer's blade, perhaps, as the commercial space is rumored for redevelopment. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
Now, a few words about DERRICK IVEY—or, as critic Kate Dobbs Ariail calls him, "He who does it all." It would have been hard to see independent theater in Durham this year without witnessing his work on stage, in moving studies including The Homosexuals, The New Electric Ballroom and The Best of Enemies.
But then he also designed the sets in each of these productions. And did the costumes for Ballroom. And directed the Savoyards summer production of The Pirates of Penzance. And so on, as he has for years.
Ivey's "done such great work with so few resources for so many theater groups for so many years," Ariail says, making "magic work on the stage [in a] quiet, almost self-effacing way."
Here's a Zen arts-management koan: If a tree falls in a forest without an audience, it doesn't matter what kind of sound it makes. After moving here in 2010, TIM SCALES found an independent theater scene brimming with energy and talent—but frequently without much of a clue about how to market and promote its own work. A young professional arts marketer who'd already worked by then with New York's Roundabout Theatre and London's Gate Theatre, Scales saw a niche with a need—and started filling it. Ever since, he's been helping a growing number of companies such as Streetsigns Center, Haymaker, Manbites Dog and Little Green Pig, independent artists including Leah Wilks and Torry Bend, Chapel Hill's Office of Public and Cultural Arts and Carrboro Film Festival all get the word out about the work they do. They have grown because he has. May that work continue.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HUMANITIES
ArtsCenter Stage: Series: Walt, The Whipping Man, A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration
Manbites Dog Theater: The Best of Enemies
ArtsCenter Stage’s Jeri Lynn Schulke took a programming risk, slating a season of theatrical works to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial through three different perspectives. The payoff: a regional premiere in May of a music theater work that poetically placed the life of Walt Whitman on stage in his own words; October’s five-star production of The Whipping Man, in which the remains of a Jewish family—two former slaves and their one-time master—find one another after the fall of Richmond; and Paula Vogel’s panoramic A Civil War Christmas, which opened last week.
It took two years for Mark St. Germain’s stage adaptation of The Best of Enemies to premiere in the city where the events it depicts took place. When it did, it played on opening night to an audience that included surviving members of the original cast: activist Ann Atwater and organizer Bill Riddick, who risked their lives opposing racism on the streets of Durham in the 1970s, and whose struggles were depicted, before them, on stage.
Historians and scholars have speculated for some time on the specific half-life of American racism. Still, one conclusion seems clear: at this date, it remains much longer than the average contemporary attention span.
Depending on the ages and experiences that unite and isolate them, such a work is easily a reminder to the person in one seat—and a revelation to the person next to them. To the latter, we dedicate this citation, with a strictly confidential admission to those who weren’t around in 1974. Actually, it wasn’t that bad.
It was much, much worse. It didn’t end after 105 minutes.
And it still isn’t over.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DESIGN
When all elements of a show’s design work to create a world, an audience moves into it. In these productions, superior design and execution across all design elements earned our highest praise. Jon Haas’ multi-screen video montages and Alex Maness’ audio design reinforced the time capsule that is The Best of Enemies, and Jan Chambers and McKay Coble placed Greek gods and foolish mortals in an aging combination European bathhouse and bibliotech in Metamorphoses. The filigreed and porcelain corruption of Lear was a waking nightmare, and we’re still unpeeling the layers that gracefully unfolded in The Narrowing.
Cabaret, PlayMakers Rep (PRC): David Bova, Heather Fleming (Makeup); Robert Dagit (Sound); Josh Epstein (Lighting); Jennifer Caprio (Costumes); Marion Williams (Set)
Lear, Duke Theater Studies (DTS): Tracey Walters (Makeup); Sonya Drum (Costumes); Roz Fulton (Lighting); Torry Bend (Set)
Metamorphoses, PRC: Michael Meyer, Heather Fleming (Makeup); Robert Dagit (Sound); Marcus Dilliard (Lighting); Jan Chambers, McKay Coble (Costumes, Set)
Ruined, Burning Coal Theatre (BC): Aharon Segal (Sound); Matthew Adelson (Lighting); Katrine Blose (Costumes); Morag Charlton (Set)
The Best Of Enemies, Manbites Dog Theater (MBD): Marissa Erickson (Costumes); Alex Maness (Sound); Jon Haas (Video); Andrew Parks (Lighting); Derrick Ivey (Set)
The Narrowing, Archipelago Theatre (AT): Jan Chambers (Costumes, Set); Adam Lindquist (Sound); Jesse Belsky (Lighting); Jim Haverkamp (Video); Liam O'Neill (Technical Design)
The New Electric Ballroom, MBD: Marc Maximov (Sound); Chuck Catotti (Lighting); Derrick Ivey (Costumes, Set)
The Rite of Spring, Basil Twist / Carolina Performing Arts (CPA): Lynne Buckson (Costumes); Ayumu “Poe” Saegusa (Lighting); Daniel Brodie (Projection); Gregory Meeh (Special Effects); Basil Twist (Puppetry, Set)
BEST DESIGN: MAKEUP
Some folks bring out the beast in us; others just make us old before time. These makeup designers flipped ages, genders—and sometimes species—in their productions.
Revonne Carter, Soulstice!, Sirona von Sirius (SvS)
Chelsea Kurtzman, The Man Who Was Thursday, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern (LGP)
Patti DelSordo, Cats, North Carolina Theatre (NCT)
Michael Meyer, The Tempest, PRC
Em Rossi, Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?, NCSU TheatreFest (NCSU)
BEST DESIGN: SOUND
The first aspect of sound design’s completely utilitarian; getting everyone heard when they should be—and then cutting the mics to keep the back stage chatter backstage. There’s the acrobatic element: riding herd over 20 to 30 separate sound sources in a musical, in real time; surfing the changes that take place over the course of a performance and a production.
But an expert soundscape—the mix of live audio and pre-recorded music, processing and effects—can help define the world of a play as much as the sets, costumes or acting. Robert Dagit’s a master of this in his work at PlayMakers; by now, Chip Rodgers’ sound design all but qualifies as an extra character in his original works. Critic Emma Miller found Shelby Hahn’s sound design for The Chairs “very haunting, accenting the drama and setting the mood without being distracting.” And the design in The Pillowman reinforced the unsettling psychologies present in their worlds.
Eric Alexander Collins, Bryan L. Hunt, Altar Boyz, The Drowsy Chaperone, Urinetown, NCT, Theatre Raleigh/Hot Summer Nights (TR/HSN)
Robert Dagit, The Mountaintop, The Tempest, PRC
Shelby Hahn, Many Moons, The Chairs, Common Wealth Endeavors (CWE), Common Ground Theatre (CGT)
Adam Lindquist, The Wooster Group's 'Diary of Anne Frank,' The Man Who Was Thursday, LGP
Will Mikes, Ira David Wood III, The Pillowman, Theatre in the Park (TIP)
Chip Rodgers, Elektra, Meredith College (MC)
BEST DESIGN: LIGHTING
From a rock show in downtown Raleigh to a bar and brothel in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these designers cast a new light—and ever deepening shadows—on the worlds they illuminated.
John Bartenstein, Altar Boyz, NCT
Jennifer Becker, Into the Woods, William Peace Theatre (WPT)
Marcus Dilliard, The Tempest, PRC
Jennifer Sherrod, Urinetown, TR/HSN
Steve Tell, The Man Who Was Thursday, LGP
BEST DESIGN: COSTUME
These costumiers were tasked with draping actors in believability (or unbelievably, in the case of our last nominees) no matter the era, the culture—or the budget. What they couldn’t find, they had to fabricate. And it all had to fit—even after the cast binged on pasta during show week.
Jade Bettin, Clybourne Park, PRC
Ann M. Bruskiewitz, The Drowsy Chaperone, NCT
Chelsea Kurtzman, Der Klöwnschpankeneffekt, Our Town, The Man Who Was Thursday, Walt, LGP, ArtsCenter Stage (ACS)
John McIlwee, Arcadia, NCSU
Laura J. Parker, Into the Woods, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, WPT
Em Rossi, Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?, NCSU
Denise Schumaker, Urinetown, TR/HSN
David Serxner, Philip B. Smith, Let Them Be Heard, Bare Theatre (BT)
LeGrande Smith, God of Carnage, I Do! I Do!, TR/HSN
Annie Zipper, Jeffrey Moore, Rachel Klem, Ron & Rhonda…Totally Rad!, Wholesome Twins
BEST DESIGN: VIDEO, EFFECTS & OTHER DESIGN
It took years for Francesca Talenti’s design and support team to engineer the region’s first robo-thespian, and Alex Maness made it look like Little Green Pig had gone to an ad agency for his stunning promotional photos for Our Town. Mark Olexik’s atmospheric video work filled entire sequences of The Pillowman. A troika of designers produced a shattering coup de theatre at the end of The Mountaintop. And we had to hand it to Chelsea Kurtzman and company for their gripping take on the long arm of the law in Der Klöwnschpankeneffekt.
Griffen Bernhard, Rebecca Burnett, Paul Davis, Daniel Freeman, Henry Fuchs, Adrian Ilie, Brady Lawrence, Jim Mahaney, Francesca Talenti, The Uncanny Valley, Francesca Talenti
Laura Bilski, Doreen Jakob, Marlyn Wells, The Man Who Was Thursday, LGP
Jan Burger, Donovan Zimmerman, Invisible Earth, Paperhand Puppet Intervention (PPI)
Nicholas Hussong, Xavier Pierce, Robert Dagit, The Mountaintop, PRC
Chelsea Kurtzman, Alex Maness, Stephanie Waaser, Jennifer Evans, Der Klöwnschpankeneffekt, LGP
Alex Maness, Our Town, LGP
John Maruca, Snow White, The Queen's Fair Daughter, RLT
Mark Olexik, The Pillowman, TIP
BEST DESIGN: SET
Chris Bernier’s tortured-but-tasteful stage-wide painting provided the first inkling of what we were in for in God of Carnage, and Haas and Dana Marks made a claustrophobic world of books in Nocturne, before Jeff Storer put us ringside for a different battle of the sexes in Cock. Drum’s detailed—but—discontinuous—environments paralleled the director’s concept for Uncle Vanya, and critic Zack Smith loved the sights—and smells—of Mauney’s Bus Stop set.
Jeff Alguire, Rachel Klem, The Chairs, CGT
Chris Bernier, God of Carnage, TR/HSN
Laura Bilski, Jay O’Berski, The Man Who Was Thursday, LGP
Sonya Drum, Uncle Vanya, DTS
Jon Haas, Dana Marks, Nocturne, Mortall Coile
E.D. Intemann, The Heretic, BC
Thomas Mauney, Bus Stop, RLT
Jeff Storer, Cock, MBD
Robin Vest, A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park, PRC
Among the big-time musicals, Casey Sams kept the Kit Kat Club kinetic, and Casey Hushion and Lauren Kennedy kept themselves and us amused with choreographic in-jokes through The Drowsy Chaperone and Urinetown. At midsummer, the cast generated thoughtful responses to Alzheimer’s Disease in Tangles, and Zimmerman and Burger staged a tribal mystery ritual in the midst of their annual pageant. Critic Emma Miller praised Spamalot’s “satiric big Broadway numbers. Plus men clopping as horses.” And repeated gasps from audience members were the only endorsement really needed for Tony Pender’s horrifying fight choreography in The Pillowman.
Jennifer Avery, Into the Woods, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, WPT
Casey Hushion, The Drowsy Chaperone, NCT
Lauren Kennedy, Urinetown, TR/HSN
Tony Pender, The Pillowman, TIP
Casey Sams, Cabaret, PRC
Summer Sisters, Tangles, CGT
Scott Taylor, Monty Python's Spamalot, NCT
Basil Twist, The Rite of Spring, CPA
Donovan Zimmerman, Jan Burger, Invisible Earth: "The Great Unfolding", PPI
BEST MUSIC DIRECTION
There really is no honorable mention in this kind of enterprise: No one gets an award—or another gig, for that matter—when the band is nearly together or the singers almost in tune. When it comes to musical direction, absolutely all of it has to work. Everybody in the house knows if it doesn’t. Not everyone’s up for a part with that degree of exposure.
A toast, then, to the nervy few who found—and then kept—harmony among vocal and instrumental groups from 5 to 48 this year. While everyone was watching and listening. That ain’t easy.
Julie Bradley, Urinetown, TR/HSN
Julie Florin, Next to Normal, Spring Awakening, Deep Dish Theater (DD), RLT
Mark Hartman, Cabaret, PRC
Eric Forte Leach, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, TR/HSN
Allison Leyton-Brown, The Narrowing, AT
Bart Matthews, The Wooster Group's 'Diary of Anne Frank,' Uncle Vanya, LGP, DTS
Onyx Club Boys, Soulstice!, SvS
Ari Picker, Invisible Earth, PPI
Craig Johnson, The Last Five Years, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (NRACT)
Jason Petty, The Swingin’ Cowboys, Temple Theatre (TT)
Edward G. Robinson, The Drowsy Chaperone, NCT
Michael Santangelo, [title of show], NRACT
Caroline Strange, Triassic Parq, Wagon Wheel Arts
BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC
Matthews' guitar and Curtis Eller's haiku banjo were the perfect complement to the bittersweetness in Ibsen and Martin McDonagh, and Emma Miller praised the human beatboxing and vocal counterpoint that "soulfully conveyed the struggles of life while mirroring themes from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring." When not buttressing Paperhand's summer show with soulful new tunes, Emma Nadeau and Ari Picker were arranging Shakespeare's lyrics and playing up a storm—literally—in The Tempest.
Curtis Eller, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Deep Dish (DD)
Allison Leyton-Brown, The Narrowing, Archipelago (AR)
Bart Matthews, Uncle Vanya, Duke Theater Studies (DTS)
Emma Nadeau, Ari Picker, Invisible Earth, The Tempest, Metamorphoses, Paperhand Puppet Intervention (PPI), PlayMakers (PRC)
UNIVERSES, Spring Training, Universes/ PRC2
Zinc Kings, As You Like It, Bare Theatre (BT)/ Raleigh Little Theatre (RLT)
BEST ORIGINAL SCRIPT OR ADAPTATION
Zack Smith praised the "sheer oddness" of Joe Brack's solo, semiautobiographical guided tour through a favorite childhood film, The Princess Bride, while in the eerie Vogue Men's Fashions, Richard Butner gave a jigsaw man pursued by ghosts a camera—and a fighting chance. We'd venture over terrain as rough as that of The Narrowing's to reach its elegiac conclusions again. And as we went to press, Kate Dobbs Ariail was predicting an upsurge in book sales of G.K. Chesterton on the basis of Neal Bell's adaptation of The Man Who Was Thursday.
Neal Bell, The Man Who Was Thursday, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern (LGP)
Joe Brack, My Princess Bride, City Artistic Partnerships (CAP)
Richard Butner, Vogue Men's Fashions, Urban Garden (UG)
Ellen Hemphill, Nor Hall, The Narrowing, AR
BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCES
The following productions would have been fundamentally incomplete without these actors, working at the top of their craft in supporting roles.
John Allore, Gil Faison, Byron Jennings, Sherida McMullan, Madelynn Poulson, Reanna Roane, Byrd Wilkins, Ruined, Burning Coal (BC)
Jade Arnold, Courtney Balan, Pauline Cobrda, David Hess, Maigan Kennedy, Rachael Moser, Raymond Sage, Urinetown, Theatre Raleigh (TR)/ Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy (HSN)
Jade Arnold, Allen Brown, Coty Cockrell, Ian Finley, Terra Hodge, Alison Lawrence, Connie McCoy Rogers, Mary Kathryn Walston, Ragtime, Justice Theater Project (JTP)
Dee Dee Batteast, Miriam Hyman, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Mikaal Sulaiman, A Raisin in the Sun, PRC
Jamie Bell, Alessandra Gaeta, Jane Holding, Tom Marriott, Michael Oliver, The Narrowing, AR
Jamie Bell, Faye Goodwin, Nick Prey, Uncle Vanya, (DTS)
Jennifer Blocker, Lakeisha Coffey, Thaddaeus Edwards, Kyma Lassiter, Carly Prentis Jones, Our Town, LGP
Brett Bolton, Julie Fishell, Cabaret, PRC
Preston Campbell, Lorelei Mellon, Dale Sanders, Psycho Beach Party, Theatre in the Park (TIP)
T. Philip Caudle, JoAnne Dickinson, Sandi Sullivan, Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?, NCSU
Jeffrey Detwiler, Victoria Facelli, John Jimerson, The Wooster Group's 'Diary of Anne Frank,' LGP
Ray Dooley, Brandon Garegnani, Maren Searle, Caroline Strange, The Tempest, PRC
Marcia Edmundson, Julie Oliver, Kevin Silva, The Cripple of Inishmaan, DD
Paige Faure, Beth Leavel, The Drowsy Chaperone, North Carolina Theatre (NCT)
Mark Filiaci, Rasool Jahan, Page Purgar, Sharlene Thomas, Good People, DD
Faye Goodwin, Jazmine Noble, Madeleine Roberts, Lear, DTS
Adam Grabau, Abigail Raye, Joshua Taylor-Hamilton, Monty Python's Spamalot, NCT
Maigan Kennedy, Into the Woods, William Peace Theatre (WPT)
Katie Lynch, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, TR/HSN
J. Alphonse Nicholson, The Whipping Man, The ArtsCenter (ACS)
Heather Shore, The Hollow Crown, hiSTORY Stage (HS)
BEST LEADING PERFORMANCES
It comes down to this: They convinced us. Through their labor, through their craft, we spent rare hours with people at extremes, and tasted of their dilemmas, their darkness, their desires and their dreams.
Jennifer Avery, Into the Woods, WPT
Aurelia Belfield, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Our Town, LGP
Ryan Brock, David Henderson, A Steady Rain, Honest Pint Theatre (HPT)
Ishai Buchbinder, The Cripple of Inishmaan, DD
Julie Fishell, The Tempest, PRC
Helen Hagan , Good People, DD
Kathryn Hunter-Williams, A Raisin in the Sun, PRC
John Jimerson, Vogue Men's Fashions, UG
Taylor Mac, Cabaret , PRC
Julie Oliver, The Heretic, BC
Jaret Preston, Mary Reilly, The Last Five Years, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theater (NRACT)
Page Purgar, Fuddy Meers, TIP
Mike Raab, Renée Wimberley, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, JTP
Phillip B. Smith, The Whipping Man, ACS
Rozlyn Sorrell, Ruined, BC
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN ENSEMBLE
Traditionally one of our most difficult awards to achieve, this category celebrates when a uniformly inspired cast of actors creates not just a show, but a world, vivid and complete, on stage.
Clybourne Park, PRC, Kelsey Didion, Matt Garner, Rasool Jahan, Nilan Johnson, Constance Macy, Jay O'Berski; Josh Tobin
God of Carnage, TR/HSN, Julie Fishell, Derrick Ivey, Dana Marks, Michael Tourek
Kindertransport, Big Wig/BC2 , Maggie Flaugher, Laura Bess Jernigan, Eric Morales, Marleigh Purgar McDonald, Mary Rowland; Sharlene Thomas, Page Purgar
Many Moons, Common Wealth (CW) Endeavors , J Evarts, Mary Guthrie, G. Scott Heath, David Sweeney
Metamorphoses, PRC, Tania Chelnov, Nathaniel P. Claridad, Jeffrey Blair Cornell, Carey Cox, Greg DeCandia, Brandon Garegnani, Julia Gibson, Nilan Johnson, Patrick McHugh, Maren Searle, Caroline Strange, Arielle Yoder
The Best of Enemies, MBD, Lakeisha Coffey, Elisabeth Lewis Corley, Thaddaeus Edwards, Derrick Ivey
The Homosexuals, MBD, Ryan Brock, Chris Burner, Thaddaeus Edwards, Derrick Ivey, Gregor McElvogue, Jeffrey Moore, Amber Wood
The New Electric Ballroom, MBD, Marcia Edmundson, Lenore Field, Katja Hill, Derrick Ivey
The Pillowman, TIP, Michael Brocki, Emma Kristine Johnson, Tony Pender, Logan Powers, Mike Raab, Scott Renz, Samuel Whisnant, Ira David Wood IV
We celebrate here the ones who first saw so many bright and shadowed worlds. They led a community of likeminded artists to create them, and after that, they let us in.
Jeremy Fiebig, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, JTP
Joseph Haj, Dominique Serrand, Metamorphoses, PRC
Rebecca Holderness, Ruined, BC
Tony Lea, Good People, DD
Tom Marriott, Cripple of Inishmaan, DD
C. Glen Matthews, A Steady Rain, HPT
Gregor McElvogue, Many Moons, Common Wealth
Joseph Megel, The Best Of Enemies, MBD
Raelle Myrick-Hodges, A Raisin in the Sun, PRC
Jay O'Berski, The Wooster Group's 'Diary of Anne Frank,' LGP
Richard Roland, God of Carnage, TR/HSN
Jeff Storer, The Homosexuals, The New Electric Ballroom, MBD
Basil Twist, The Rite of Spring, CPA
Ira David Wood III, The Pillowman, TIP
Brian Yandle, Kindertransport, Big Wig
Tracy Young, Clybourne Park, PRC
This one's what we look like, as a theater, at our best; when we dream large dreams, attempt to realize them—and then succeed.
A Raisin in the Sun, PRC
A Steady Rain, HPT
Clybourne Park, PRC
God of Carnage, TR/HSN
Good People, DD
Many Moons, CWE
The Best of Enemies, MBD
The Homosexuals, MBD
The New Electric Ballroom, MBD
The Pillowman, TIP
The Whipping Man, ACS
Vogue Men's Fashions, UG
Correction: Craig Johnson was the music director for NRACT's production of The Last Five Years, not Daniel Oberst.
This article appeared in print with the headline "The List for 2013."