Emmys who? Houston's thespian community was out in full form last night for the Houston Press' annual Houston Theater Awards. The awards presentation, hosted at the MKT Bar at Phoenicia's, featured an array of persons from H-town's theater world; representation came from big theaters such as The Alley and Theatre Under the Stars to the smaller, indies such as Mildred's Umbrella and Obsidian Art Space - all partying under one roof.
The awards, which had previously been announced in this week's printed version of the Press, were distributed by writers and editors from the paper who make it a part of their mission to view as much theater as possible throughout the year. Handing out the honors were Editor Margaret Downing, Night and Day Editor and writer Olivia Flores Alvarez and writers D.L. Groover and Jim J. Tommaney.
Winner for Best Actress, Qamara Black, who starred in the highly reviewed Obsidian Art Space production of Ruined, was ecstatic. Black says that upon first reading the play she really hated her character, Mama Nadi, a "madam," if you will, in the Congo.
"Even after reading the play the third time," Black went on to explain, "I still hated her; but I understood her."
Black is a mother and a survivor in her own right and found that if she could look at the character from that perspective, she could find the empathy and then relay that to the audience.
Tom Stell, the director of Ruined and Artisitc Director of Obsidian Art Space gushed over the actress' win, stating that putting on the production was "a dream."
Another big winner(s) was Stark Naked Theatre Company, which took home the prize for Best Artistic Directors for Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin and Best Trooper for Philip Lehl. Lehl's win is due to the fact that he jumped in to take over the lead role in the company's production of The Winter's Tale at the very last minute.
"I didn't even know it was a category!" Lehl joked.
Tobin credits the company's success with the fact that there are two of them and they both have such varied backgrounds in the theater arts.
"We've been fortunate to have a huge amount of experience to draw from to create our eclectic seasons," Tobin said.
In addition to the excitement of winning, sometimes (I know so cliché) just being nominated is truly honor. John Johnson, Artistic Director of the Classical Theater Company, was nominated for several awards including Best Artistic Director and Best Play/Production, said that the event was really an excellent excuse to socialize.
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"We (the theater community) rarely have a chance to all get together," Johnson said, "and it's nice to be able to do this once a year."
Newcomer to Houston Hailey Hussey, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Theater LaB's production of Cock, was blown away by the entire idea of the event as well as the community at large, stating that she has been continually impressed by the support of Houston's theater community.
"This event is awesome," she added.
For a complete list of the finalists and winners, see this week's printed version also available online.