And now for the 2010 Matilda Awards!

Last year Greenroom wrote about the Matilda Awards, since 1987 Queensland’s only awards for excellence in theatre production.  That post put a few questions about the nature, scope and range of work under consideration.

This year the award categories have been reduced from 12 to 10.  Best Musical Production has gone, with Best Technical Design and Best Design bundled together into the single category, Best Design – there had been a bit of a kerfuffle post-Matilda last year about this split in the design categories.

Like all smart arts organisations in this day and age, the Matildas now have a social media presence; theirs is on Facebook.  It was good to see some information on this year’s awards posted a week or so ago; FB fans had been asking when the nominations were to be announced.  Soon, it would seem, if the social media tom-toms are to be believed.  By the way, the 2010 Matildas will be held from 6.30pm April 19th at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Art in the Valley, Brisbane.

In case you don’t have or want a Facebook account here is some information from the Matildas’ fan page.  Perhaps it will also encourage a bit more of a conversation and address those questions which remain unanswered:

  • What is a mainstage production, and how is it different from an independent production?
  • For that matter, what is Matilda’s definition of community theatre which is excluded from consideration? (see Voting Procedure below)  Is amateur theatre meant?  Some self-styled community theatre in the regions is pro-am – like a lot of independent theatre elsewhere – and that leads on to
  • Why the Matildas are still called ‘Queensland’ awards, whilst regional professional and independent theatre is excluded?  Why not be proudly Brisbane, and be done with it.

Good on the Matilda judging panel/committee/board/ and the terrific Playlab Press (sponsoring again) for working hard on an event that profiles, supports, and celebrates the work being done in the Brisbane professional and independent theatre community.  PS Did you know that Playlab is Australia’s second-largest publisher of theatre and new work for performance?

Award Categories

There will be ten commendations in the following categories:

• Best Mainstage Production
• Best Independent Production
• Best Direction
• Best Actress In A Lead Role
• Best Actor In A Lead Role
• Best Actress In A Supporting Role
• Best Actor In A Supporting Role
• Best New Australian Work
• Best Emerging Artist
• Best Design (set, lighting, sound or costume)

However, if the judges see something they feel is outstanding but does not fit into any of the above categories, for instance a musical, they will be at liberty to give an award to it. These award winners will receive a framed certificate.

  • Another question: Why doesn’t a musical fit into any of the categories cited above?  Compensation perhaps for dumping the award for Best Musical Production?

As well as the commendations, there will be five Matilda Awards.

These are the premium awards and the winners will receive trophies.

A Matilda is awarded for outstanding work in any area of the theatre industry.  Awards may be given for a body of work, or for a single work.  Receiving a commendation does not disqualify a theatre worker from receiving a Matilda in that same year.

The 2010 judging panel

Voting Procedure

The judges compile a comprehensive list of all the productions that are eligible for that year adhering to the following guidelines:

For an arts worker to be nominated for work on an individual production that production must comply with the following guidelines:

  • the production was either a fully professional or a pro-am production – no community theatre
  • international and national touring productions are not eligible
  • the play must have been seen by at least 50 per cent of the judges.

If there is no category for a show that amazed everyone, then a category should be created to award that show. Further, if half the board saw a show and rated that show the best they had seen, then that should be seen more favourably than a show everyone saw but thought was mediocre.

Guidelines

For each category, committee members should award two points to their first choice and one point to their second.  This ensures that a board members’ second preference also gets counted.

There should be at least four nominations in every category to form a shortlist.

Judges cannot vote in categories where they have a conflict of interest, for instance if they or a family member have been involved in a production in any way.

Queensland’s Matilda Awards 2009: where to now?

Artifical beach at Southbank, in central Brisb...
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Congratulations to all winners at the 2009 Matilda Awards held on March 2 at Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre.
Best Mainstage Production: ANATOMY TITUS FALL OF ROME: Queensland Theatre Company
Best Independent Production: HOODS: Real TV
Best Direction: Michael Futcher; RABBIT HOLE Queensland Theatre Company; THE WISHING WELL La Boite Theatre Company
Best Actress in a Lead Role: Helen Howard: RABBIT HOLE: Queensland Theatre Company
Best Actor in a Lead Role: Jean-Marc Russ: I AM MY OWN WIFE: Queensland Theatre Company
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Kaye Stevenson: SUMMER OF THE SEVENTEENTH DOLL: La Boite Theatre Company
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Andrew Buchanan: FEMALE OF THE SPECIES: Queensland Theatre Company
Best New Australian Work: ATTACK OF THE ATTACKING ATTACKERS: Matthew Ryan: La Boite Theatre Company
Best Emerging Artist: Kathryn Marquet: JANE EYRE, BRONTE, RISK
Best Design: Jonathon Oxlade: ATTACK OF THE ATTACKING ATTACKERS: La Boite Theatre Company
Best Technical Design: David Walters: AUGUST MOON Queensland Theatre Company, RABBIT HOLE Queensland Theatre Company; WISHING WELL La Boite Theatre Company
Best Musical Production: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE: Oscar Theatre Company

Hooray for Queensland’s theatre community, and hoorah for the Matilda Awards which support it. However, given some of the comments in Katharine Lyall-Watson’s recent blog post, I’d reckon the awards are ready for a comprehensive review. Herewith my 2c worth.

As I understand it, the Matildas were originally conceived to celebrate Queensland theatre talent. From the list of this year’s nominees, they are clearly Brisbane-centric. This is a real pity, as there is much great work going on outside the capital city of our state.

As to the categories, these are clearly problematical for some, and I include myself in this. The panel of judges which once comprised reviewer-critics (now as I note no longer solely so) have chosen to copy the Green Room and Critics Circle categorisations, themselves a copy of much larger awards. Do we really have the critical mass yet of Melbourne and Sydney to support all of these categories? IMHO, the fewer the awards, the more prestigious and probably, more affordable.

Instead of the constraints of categories, why not simply recognise outstanding practitioners or groups to reflect any aspect of our profession? I understand this used to happen. Whilst I am sure not all would agree, I have a problem separating out male and female actors for awards as outstanding performers, for example.

And finally, putting on my theatre academic’s hat, where do we and those coming after us go to read all about this thing called the Matildas? I did a Google search and was sent to Wikipedia to get some background for this post.  I found an out of date entry at Wikipedia, and nothing more. So I added an external hotlink to Lyall-Watson’s blog post which contains this year’s nominees and the subsequent discussion on the pros and cons of the awards.

I’d like to see the theatre community pitching in by contributing to this entry on Wikipedia. It shouldn’t be a one-person job and it certainly isn’t difficult to do. Wikipedia is intensely democratic and, like the theatre itself, collaborative. Bloopers, glitches, and the like are quickly erased and replaced by others with the right info. It’s another way of endorsing and supporting the theatre, and getting the word out beyond Queensland.

PS Congratulations to all the nominees and thanks to the panel of judges who have worked long and hard to keep the Matildas going. You’re champions all!

PPS What’s the definition of a ‘Mainstage Production’ please? Curious as to its application as a category – presumably the other side of the coin to ‘Independent Production.’