EMACT (Easter Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres) is a great organization dedicated to assisting its member theater groups in various ways. One of which is through an awards program. The DASH (Distinguished Awards and Special Honors) awards are essentially the Eastern MA equivalent of the Tony Awards. I don’t know if other areas of the country have organizations dedicated to recognizing local theater and talent but if not, they should. It’s amazing- here’s why.
So Long, Farewell
You have 8-10 weeks with these folks, this show and that’s it. Many people move from one show to the next, sometimes overlapping shows so there’s little downtime and even less time to see friends after the show ends. While not everyone may be able to attend the awards show it’s a chance to reconnect with those theater friends from that production and possibly others. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about other area theaters and see what they’ve been up to over the last year.
You’re the Top
Some community productions and actors I’ve seen rival those from NYC or a touring production. They have the chance to be recognized for their talent why shouldn’t community theaters and performers? It’s like the line about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, “She did everything Fred did, but backwards and in high heels.” We’re doing everything professional theater companies do, maybe more and all while holding down day jobs, going to school full/part-time and sometimes a little of both. The talented among us should be recognized for their hard work and dedication.
Around Tony time a fellow On Stage blogger asked why there wasn’t a category for Best Ensemble performance. It’s truly a shame there isn’t because for many productions your ensemble can make or break the show. They are in virtually every scene, singing every song, dancing every dance and when done right pulls the audience in to the overall theme and message of the show. Here in my neck of the woods there is just such an award. You hear that Antoinette Perry committee folks?
Put On Your Sunday Clothes
Life has become so casual these days (see a previous post of mine lamenting the lack of dressing for the theater) that there’s precious few reasons to put on your Sunday best anymore. Attending an awards show or something similar is a wonderful reason to purchase a new dress, spend a few extra moments fixing your hair, and insist that your significant other wears his good tie. It’s a chance to step out of your everyday life and into a glamorous life. Even if it’s only for a few hours it’s still a thrill.
Don’t Rain on My Parade
If you’re fortunate to be in an area with an organization similar to EMACT and your preferred theater group isn’t a member, or shows you performed with weren’t nominated don’t downplay the importance this opportunity. Maybe you don’t need an award to tell you the hours you’ve diverted from family, friends and other activities was for the best but some might need the additional reassurance. Perhaps the idea of sitting through 3 hours of speeches, performances and forced interactions is your idea of hell but that’s not the case for all. It could be a dream come true for the person reading your snarky FB comment or trying to ignore your eye rolling when they tell you what their weekend plans involved.
In short more areas need programs like this. They help raise the bar, foster new talent, encourage and support area theater groups and the individuals performing there.