My fellow columnist Richard Burnett already weighed in on the upcoming MECCA awards in Montreal and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do the same, mostly because while I agree there was a misfire in the nominations, I disagree with him on how. Richard’s misfire was the absence of The Lion King from the category of Best Visiting Production; but I simply can’t agree that Segal’s production of Lies My Father Told Me wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Theodore Bikel. Mr. Bikel essentially rehashed the same role he’s played two thousand times before – Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. He did it well, but then after two thousand times, that’s hardly a surprise. Why reward him for something he perfected years ago?
...in all the years since the the start of the MECCAs, Geordie has generally been snubbed on an annual basis.
But the true scandal is the near-complete absence of the family-orientated Geordie Productions from the list of nominees. This isn’t surprising either: in all the years since the the start of the MECCAs, Geordie has generally been snubbed on an annual basis. Attention was paid in 2005 when they gave outgoing AD Elsa Bolam an honorary award, but aside from that they have only received less than a handful of nominations, always in the category of design (this year’s nomination for Best Set represents their third design nomination since 2007). In all the years since the MECCAs began, Geordie has only won once.
This year, the absence of Mocshplat is particularly sad, since it’s one of the best shows I saw in 2011. But even if you disagree with me about this or any of the shows in the 2010 -11 season, there’s simply no excuse for the way our critics continue to snub Geordie Productions. Directing, writing and acting awards routinely pass them by, even though the company continually produces quality shows filled with dazzling new texts and superb performances from local artists. The sort of skills required for theatre for all ages are not to be found in the average actor – more often than not, actors are called upon to play a dizzying array of characters, some of whom aren’t even human. To repeatedly ignore the talent required to produce this sort of work is simply another example of genre bias, that old enemy that repeatedly keeps people from taking family-orientated theatre seriously.
I’m hoping Medea will sweep every category they’re in and that John C. Dining will win a (well-deserved) nod for recreating Schwartz’s delicatessen inside Centaur Theatre.
Geordie isn’t the only company being ignored. Black Theatre Workshop’s Youthworks productions are also usually forgotten, as are the shows that appear at Centaur Theatre’s Children’s Morning Series. There’s enough family orientated theatre happening in Montreal that the MECCAs could include another category, though I’m not sure that this is the solution in Geordie’s case. Under the leadership of Dean Fleming, Geordie has been fighting to shed its YPT label – for him, Geordie is “theatre for all ages” and it would be ideal if Montreal critics shed their prejudce and started giving Geordie’s shows the attention they deserve.
Having said that, there remains a lot of well-deserved praise in the nominations – the folks at Scapegoat Carnivale know how much I loved Medea, especially since I tend to remind them each time we meet. I’m hoping Medea will sweep every category they’re in and that John C. Dining will win a (well-deserved) nod for recreating Schwartz’s delicatessen inside Centaur Theatre.
...the MECCAs are exactly what an awards ceremony is supposed to be: an opportunity for artists to dress up, stroke each other’s egos and try to sleep with each other.
And on the MECCA’s fourteenth anniversary, let me take a moment to congratulate them for ensuring that the MECCAs are exactly what an awards ceremony is supposed to be: an opportunity for artists to dress up, stroke each other’s egos and try to sleep with each other. In an industry filled with criticism and rejection, it’s important for artists to find time to lend each other moral support. We all know the awards themselves don’t really matter. What’s really important is the camaraderie, support and inspiration that is engendered whenever a group of artists sit in the same room. To all the nominees: break lots of legs!